On August 9, 1998, Salsa lost one of its greatest singers, Frankie Ruiz, to liver failure, which according to various resources, resulted from complications of the AIDS virus. One of the first to perform in the Salsa Sensual style, Ruiz had played a major role in the resurgence of salsa's popularity in the '70s. A native of Patterson, NJ, Ruiz began singing at a very young age. He was still a child when he made his recording debut with Charlie Lopez y Su Orquesta. Moving, with his mother, to Puerto Rico in 1965, he became enamored by the music of a popular salsa band, La Solucion. Attending as many of the group's performances as possible, he quickly learned the band's repertoire. Although his mother implored on music director Roberto Rivera to audition him, Ruiz was not taken seriously until the band's lead singer failed to show for a night club engagement. Asked to fill in for the evening, Ruiz impressed the band so much that he was invited to become a full-time member. He remained with the group for three years. Leaving La Solucion in the early '70s, Ruiz accepted an invitation to join Tommy Olivencia's orchestra. During the three years that he spent with the group, he scored a major hit, "La Duda." Ruiz launched his solo career in the mid-'80s. Despite his obvious talents as a vocalist, Ruiz was plagued by drug and alcohol dependency and a thirst for hard living. ~ Craig Harris
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