Roberto Roena was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico on January 16, 1940. This gentleman born under the astrological sign of Capricorn has a long and distinguished career en el mundo de Salsa. In addition to his musical abilities he is recognized for his talent as a dancer.
His path to music began while a teenager and was later launched with the great Raphael Cortijo who took him under his wing and helped him develop into a great percussionist. His specialty of course is that of abongocero and campanero (bongo and cowbell player).

He later moved to the orchestra of Mario Ortiz. After several months with Mario the occasion arose when Roberto was asked to become part of El Gran Combo. He seized the opportunity. Incidentally several of the musicians in El Gran Combo were those he had played with in Rafael Cortijo’s group.

Roberto Roena, an innovator, experimenter, and music lover participated in numerous jam sessions with various musicians. He formed a new band with some of these musicians and named it the Apollo Sound, in tribute to the space mission to the moon. His bent toward the innovative called for him to use Latin and American music forms to create his own sound. Many predicted his failure would be sure and swift. They could not have been more mistaken.

Roberto Roena and the Apollo Sound soon became one of the best and most popular bands to come out of Puerto Rico. Roberto soon became a hot property and was made a member of the legendary Fania All-stars with whom he delighted audiences with his musicianship and dancing skills.


Many newly converted fans of Salsa may not be familiar with his bands’ song titles. However they would do well to take the time to listen. Two albums are suggested starting points:

Roberto Roena Y Su Apollo Sound 6

  • El Que Se Fue
  • Tracion
  • Cucarachita Cucarachon
  • Parece Mentira
  • En Mis Rosales
  • Que Se Sepa
  • Ese Soy Yo
  • Es Que Estas Enamorada
  • Herencia Rumbera
Roberto Roena Lucky 7

  • Que Me Castigue Dios
  • A Bailar Mi Bomba
  • Te Voy A Tratar
  • Estas Equivocada
  • Fea
  • Mi Desengano
  • La Hija De La Vecina
  • Hoy Mi Dia Triste
  • La Mala Mana
  • Me Le Fuege La Candela