In the early 70’s, the trumpet player of La Sonora Ponceña, José “Joe” Rodríguez, decided to leave the orchestra led by Papo and Quique Lucca.
Joe had been part of “La Más Sureña” since almost the foundation of the orchestra and was even the lead trumpet player in the successful productions “Hacheros Pa’ Un Palo” (1968), “Fuego En El 23” (1969), “Algo de Locura” (1971), “Desde Puerto Rico a Nueva York” (1972) and “Sonora Ponceña” (1972) with which the orchestra achieved great international recognition; however, this time, the trumpet player had decided to execute an idea that had been in his head for some time.
He was also joined by percussionist Mickey Ortiz and, incredibly, the lead voice of La Sonora Ponceña, Tito Gómez.
Soon, Joe Rodríguez, with the collaboration of the resigning members and his first cousin, bongos player Francisco “Chalina” Alvarado, who curiously had also been part of La Sonora Ponceña in the past, organized his own orchestra which he called “La Terrífica” and began to travel all over Puerto Rico performing at festivals and patron saint festivals.
Sometime later they signed a contract with the powerful Fania Records label to record with its subsidiary, Internacional Records, their first album under the production of Larry Harlow, titled “Terrífica” (1974), which featured Adalberto Santiago on backing vocals, Héctor Lavoe and Yayo ‘El Indio’, which included the song ‘Hachero Mayor’ written by Francisco Alvarado and vocalized by Tito Gómez as a protest to one of the most popular Sonora Ponceña songs on the island: ‘Hacheros Pa’ Un Palo’ authored by Arsenio Rodríguez.
“Yo traigo el hacha mayor, De aquella 72 Arsenio me la dejó la, con doble filo la traigo yo.
I come to chop down a stick, which they call ‘palo mayor’ because I’m the brave one here, I’m the axeman, I bring the axe, from that 72 Arsenio left it to me, I bring it with a double edge.
I come from the mountains and I bring a lot of firewood,
Gentlemen, I come waving, I am the main axeman.
Seventy-two axes for one stick, with my two-edged axe,
Now I cut it.
I bring the biggest axe, with a double edge I bring it.
Gentlemen, I went to the mountain and I come very tasty, to distribute to the whole world, I’m the biggest axe man.
Double-edged, double-edged gentleman.
With double edge I bring it.
Careful, jump out of the way, gentlemen, so that they will know, I’m coming with “La Terrífica”.
If you don’t get out of the way, I’ll run over you with my truck.
I’ll bring it with a double edge”.
The new orchestra was doing well, they enjoyed the public’s acceptance.
The contracts began to arrive by themselves and they had a good future, however, Tito Gómez would surprise everyone when he announced that he was resigning from “La Terrífica” because he had received an interesting proposal from New York to join the powerful band of conguero Ray Barretto who, after the sudden departure of his singer Tito Allen, was looking for a new vocalist to accompany the young Panamanian Rubén Blades at the front of his orchestra.
The following year, La Sonora Ponceña records in “Tiene Pimienta” (1975), its next production, the song “Hachero Sin Hacha” in the voice of Miguelito Ortiz (who arrives to the orchestra replacing Tito Gómez to accompany Luigui Texidor), written by Papo Lucca himself, in which he responds harshly about the alleged awarding of the axe to “La Terrífica” and even makes fun of the resignation of Tito Gómez with the pregón “una gallina que no pone porque ya no tiene gallo” (a hen that doesn’t lay because she no longer has a rooster).
“Where is that great hatchet man who advertises himself out therethe one who remembered Arsenio for a triumph to get.
You are nothing more than a parrot a head without brains a hen that does not lay because it no longer has a rooster.
That axe that you have looked for cardboard teeth that was that the great Arsenio, a joke played on you.
Search well in your memory the year sixty-nine when in your presence Arsenio with Lucia sent me an axe as a reward the sign of the woodcutter.
Axemen without an axe, they are.
Your axe does not break skulls, your axe is made of cardboard.
Arsenio mistook you, Arsenio misled you, your time is long gone Ay, I’m telling you, where is that great axeman?
Maybe he died, maybe he died, you have to put your head in it, you have to put inspiration in it”.
Incredibly, when a strong response was expected from “La Terrífica”, its director Joe Rodríguez decided to concentrate his energy on finding a replacement for Tito Gómez and to reinforce his orchestra. Thus, Yolandita Rivera from New York and a 16-year-old teenager named Héctor “Pichie” Pérez joined the group and recorded “Sabor A Pueblo” (1976), their next LP under the production of pianist Jorge Millet.
The differences between both orchestras seemed to vanish as if by magic after a supposed private meeting between the founders of both groups, a situation that allowed them to have a peaceful party.
This fact would be verified later with the recording of two songs by La Terrífica: “Humo En La Cabeza” and ‘”Vida Se Llama Mujer” both authored by Luigui Texidor, the vocalist of La Sonora Ponceña; and the linking to Quique Lucca’s orchestra of vocalist Yolanda Rivera (the main voice of La Terrífica), who, besides other hits, recorded the merengue “Si No Me Meto” composed by Francisco Alvarado, co-founder and bongos player of La Terrífica in the album “El Gigante Del Sur” (1977).
The result of this determination gave great and good results for all, to the extent that Tito Gómez returned to La Sonora Ponceña to record several songs written by Francisco Alvarado, among them “Moreno Soy” included in the album “Explorando” (1978) and eventually Joe Rodríguez participated with Quique Lucca’s orchestra as a guest trumpet player for some trips.
From this moment on, “La Terrífica” would act as a kind of quarry of vocalists and musicians that would provide La Sonora Ponceña with salsa talents, this is the case of Manuel ‘Mannix’ Martínez, Héctor ‘Pichie’ Pérez, Yolanda Rivera, Luisito Carrión, Wito Colón, Luis ‘Cuchy’ Castro (trumpet), Efraín ‘Frao’ Hernández (bass), Freddie Del Valle (trumpet), Japhet Rodríguez (timbal), Jorge Miranda (bongo), among many others.
La Terrífica, from its creation until 1992, recorded ten incredible productions, saying goodbye to the Salsa market with the hit “Corazón Fracturado”.
For his part, Joe Rodriguez, the founder of La Terrifica, has been retired from music for quite some time and devoted to his religion; while Francisco “Chalina” Alvarado founded El Conjunto La Perla and is still immersed in the world of salsa.
Facebook: Orquesta “La Terrífica”
Source: Frank Manuel Orellana
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