Born in Ensenada, Guánica, Puerto Rico as the son of an amateur guitarist, Yomo Toro grew to have a five-decade career as one of New York City's best respected Latin musicians. Toro's instrument of choice was the cuatro, which is a Puerto Rican ten-string guitar-like instrument descended from the Spanish vilhuela. After first landing in New York in 1953 with his band, Los 4 Aces, he embarked on a series of tours of the Caribbean, finally settling for good in the Tremont section of the Bronx in 1956. He played with Trio Los Panchos in the early '60s and recorded four albums with them, including one featuring Eydie Gorme. Soon after that he began recording with the legendary Fania label, eventually joining their world-famous house band, the Fania All-Stars. During the late '60s and early '70s he hosted The Yomo Toro Show on New York television channel 41. The show, which featured interviews with and entertainment from a host of Latin personalities, was on for seven years. The year 1969 was especially fruitful for Toro, when he recorded Tribute to Arsenio Rodriguez with the Larry Harlow Orchestra -- an incredibly influential salsa album. He also hooked up with some legends in 1970 when he recorded the classic Asalto Navideño with Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe, combining the new sounds of New York salsa with traditional Puerto Rican Christmas music. The album was one of Fania's best-selling of all time.
From the '70s onward into the 21st century, Toro's career continued nonstop. He appeared on over 150 albums, recording over 20 solo albums for Fania, Island, Rounder, and Green Linnet Records. He broke back into television and film, playing in commercials for several major international companies and working on the soundtracks for several films, including Crossover Dreams with Rubén Blades and Woody Allen's Bananas. He broke out into many different genres, recording with Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, and David Byrne. In 1994, however, he returned his focus to a single band, playing in the Latin Legends with Larry Harlow and Aldaberto Santiago. Yomo Toro died of kidney failure in the Bronx on June 30, 2012; he was 78 years old. ~ Stacia Proefrock
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