Biography of Oscar D ‘Leon
Óscar Emilio León Simosa, was born in the populous Antimano parish in Caracas -Venezuela, on July 11, 1943, known in the artistic world Óscar d ‘León, son of Carmen Dionisia Simoza and Florentino Padrón. However, he did not recognize him at the time of birth, so the marriage of Carmen Simoza and Justo León decided to take care of the child.
From an early age, little Oscar enjoyed the popular parties that were held in Antímano and listened to the music of great orchestras such as La Sonora Matancera, the Billo’s Caracas Boys Orchestra, the Matamoros Trio, and two of his greatest musical inspirations, Celia Cruz. and Benny Moré.
He began his musical career relatively late, at 28 years of age, after having carried out two jobs totally unrelated to music, such as taxi driver and mechanic; He was educated academically as a surveyor, but never practiced that profession.
Oscar learned to play bass empirically, his innate talent for music was so extraordinary that it allowed him to earn a position in one of the orchestras that played in a renowned nightclub in the city of Caracas. There Oscar also did the choirs, but he did not interpret any song as a soloist.
His life changed when the lead singer of the orchestra was absent from one of the presentations and Oscar proposed to fill that vacancy and he did it in a great way, so much so that he received the approval of all those present.
In 1972, the owner of “La Distinción” told him that he would dispense with his services, since he would require an orchestra of higher quality and experience. Oscar offered his group to the owner of the premises, although he did not have it. It was here that D ’León went, together with the trombonist César Monges, from door to door looking for some musicians with whom he considered he could put together a group with which the venue could get out of trouble. It is there where they meet the percussionists Elio Pacheco and José Rodríguez, the trombonist José Antonio Rojas (Rojita) and the pianist Enrique “Culebra” Iriarte (who would later be replaced by Jesús Narváez). At this moment the project to create the Latin Dimension is accelerating.
They premiered on March 15, 1972, in a rehearsal at the home of “Culebra” Iriarte in La Guaira and debuted in “La Distinción”. In that same 1972 the orchestra recorded their first full-length album and obtained their first hit, the song “Pensando en ti”. This first success led them to be hired to participate in the Maracaibo carnival festivities. We must emphasize that Víctor Mendoza was the one who suggested using his stage name as “Oscar D´León”. There were many songs that Oscar hit with the Latin Dimension, “Llorarás”, “Taboga”, “El Frutero”, “Mi Tierra”, among many more.
In 1976, at the highest point of popularity, Oscar D’León confronted differences with the rest of the members of the group, for which he separated from the Latin Dimension and formed his own orchestra; “La Salsa Mayor” recording his first LP titled “Con Bajo y Todo”.
After some legal problems that momentarily led him to remain briefly detained and deprived of liberty and to be questioned in the media, he decided to change his image and presence, dispensing with the qualifier “El Diablo de la salsa” that had been given to him in Panama.
In 1986 he relapsed into acting, this time in the Venezuelan film “Hell is sure.” Later, he began his international leap, taking his music to countries such as Japan and to stages such as Madison Square Garden in New York, the Poliedro de Caracas and the Teresa Carreño Theater. At this stage, he alternates and records with those who had been his youth idols: Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente.
He also presented himself as the companion for singers of the new salsa generation who was part, like him, of the label belonging to Ralph Mercado “RMM”: La India with whom he would record the song “Hazme el amor” or José Alberto “El Canario” with who would record “The flavor arrived.”
Oscar D´León has received numerous awards and honors. In 1996, with the album “Sonero del Mundo” in collaboration with the Cuban musician Willy Chirino makes him obtain the nomination for the Grammy.
On March 15, 1998, the city of New York honored him by naming that date as Oscar D’León Day.
On December 20, 2009, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a Caracas clinic after suffering a heart attack in Martinique, from which he recovered after undergoing catheterization.
On November 21, 2013 he received the Latin Grammy Award for Excellence for his musical career, thus recognizing the impact of his performance in the world, also that same year he would receive the Grammy Award.
Today, Oscar continues to delight us with his wonderful musical talent …