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EDDIE "GUA GUA" RIVERA

 

EDDIE "GUA GUA" RIVERA
By Linda Novit

Eddie "Gua Gua" Rivera radiates love and spirituallity. "When I came to Miami I found Christ". He plays Gospel in Church every Sunday. But let's go back to the beginning.

Eddie Rivera was born of Puerto Rican parents in New York in 1948 (he's even older than me).He grew up in New York city. As a budding teenager he joined the Junior High School band playing trombone and baritone horn. Also the All City Orchestra. But that wasn't enough. So on the side he formed the Caribbean Combo which included many young talented musicians such as ERNIE AGUSTO who went on to form LA CONSPIRACION, NICKY MARRERO who later joined FANIA ALL STARS and PABLITO ROSARIO who then went on to play with among others CHARLIE PALMIERI.

Eddie then joined WILLIE COLON. By this time he had made his transition to becoming a bass player. He made his first recording, "EL MALO" in 1966. At 17 he joined the CHARLIE PALMIERI BAND. Playing with Charlie was to become the best school he had ever had. "Charlie taught me how to read, how to play
and how to be a man. He's also the one who g ave me the name "GUA GUA". We were in the Catskills and as he was my guardian we split a hotel room. I was coming out of a steamy shower when he stared at me (I was a fat kid) and said "You look like a bus coming out of the London fog! That's it, your Gua Gua, Eddie Gua Gua!" And it stuck.

Eddie stayed with CHARLIE PALMIERI until he was drafted in 1968. He was a gunner. One day while fooling around on his bass he was heard by a recruiter for the army band. He was told he would have to audition on a marching instrument. Luckily Eddie still played the baritone horn. He became a member of the handpicked elite 84th army band, the only member who had been drafted. Instead of being sent to Vietnam he toured all of Europe playing for the officers. This lasted 2 years.

When Eddie came home he worked with Pete Bonet and the late Louis Ramirez in New York. Then Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria with whom he toured worldwide and got his jazz chops. Then he stayed in New York for a while playing with LARRY HALOW, JOHNNY PACHECO and EDDIE PALMIERI. All this before his mid 20's!

Eddie decided he wanted to try some rock and roll and joined the RASCALS (remember "GROOVIN'") touring with them.

Back in New York and on the Latin scene he played on many Fania recordings, then traveled with GATO BARBIERI for 3 years. One of their stops was Miami and Eddie met his wife to be (she still is).

In 1980 he moved to Puerto Rico to form the band BATACUMBELE. He discovered GIOVANNI HIDALGO, CACHETE MALDONADO and ERIC FIGUEROA. They were together for 4 successful years. Very Avant Garde!

In 1984 he settled in Miami. He was soul searching. He worked locally with Nestor Torres and Hansel and Raul. Giovanni Hidalgo called him for recordings and to film an instructional video. Larry Halow and the Latin Legends call him for world tours.

3 years ago tragedy struck. While undergoing exploratory surgery he had complications. He was given tainted blood during transfusions and put on life support. He has had to endure chemotherapy. But today EDDIE GUA GUA is glowing! (I hope it's not the radiation) He is now musical minister of the FAITH CHRISTIAN CENTER, a Pentacostal Church "full of the holy ghost".

In 1996 he formed THE LATIN JAZZ CREW along with musicians JORGE LUIS SOSA, FERNANDO DIEZ, EDWIN BONILLA and LUDWIG ALFONSO. The band is currently very successful and has 2 CDs on the SUNSET label, "AUTHENTICITY" and "BRIDGES CROSS". Miami's proud to have him. We love you EDDIE GUA GUA!

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