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Julio César Rojas López, known as Tito Rojas (June 14, 1955 – December 26, 2020) or better know as "El Gallo Salsero" was a salsa singer and songwritter from Puerto Rico. / Photo: José Rodríguez
Julio César Rojas López, known as Tito Rojas, or better know as 'El Gallo Salsero,' was a salsa singer and songwriter from Puerto Rico. Photo: José Rodríguez 

Gallo Salsero dies: A warm goodbye to Tito Rojas

Tito Rojas died on Saturday, Dec. 26 at age 65 of a heart attack, when he returned to Humacao after celebrating with friends and family.

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The famous Puerto Rican salsa tenor singer Tito Rojas, known as 'Gallo Salsero,' died of an apparent heart attack last Saturday, Dec. 26. The tragedy took place in Humacao, the city where he was born and grew up, after celebrating the holidays with family and friends in the Tejas neighborhood, as reported by the director of the Criminal Investigation Corps.

Julio César Rojas (1955) was the real name of the 'Gallo Salsero,' widely known by Latin American listeners and dancers, and reached his greatest international success in the 90s with songs like "Esperarte," "Señora de madrugada" and "Por mujeres como tú."

His popularity once hit a point to where he became the commercial image of Puerto Rican salsa.

At the time, he achieved a double-platinum album and extended his affection to the world from Humacao with a long discography that included a Christmas album and a list of collaborations with other legends, such as Tito Gómez and Gilberto Santa Rosa to name a few.

This tenacity earned him a Grammy nomination in 2003 with Perseverancia, among the best salsa albums of all time.

Regarding his character, everything that can be said about him, lives in reality through his music. He exuded a radical closeness and familiarity that turned his albums into intimate and sensual shows.

A family man, friend of his friends, and with a great sense of humor, he feels seems to enjoy his life and has an enormous sense of humor in numerous recordings. Also important was his faithfulness and great affection for Puerto Rico, a land for which he was always grateful.

There is something profoundly magical about music, and sometimes it even works as a bittersweet goodbye letter, as was the case for David Bowie. On Christmas Day, Rojas published a special on his Youtube channel where he interpreted the already legendary Christmas album (Canta Gallo, Canta en Navidad), which has been playing in the homes of many salsa lovers for more than 20 years, and sang that "tonight, when it's 12 o'clock, and the old year is gone, I'm going to give thanks for having called on a night like this…”

The intense recording, a memory the present, works in retrospect as the warmest of farewells: intense, full of humor and a wink to all his loved ones. It was a salsa show for the whole family that immortalized the tenor voice of Rojas, fulfilling the magic trick of songs that allows for preservation and posterity much more than the sound.

His daughter Jessica confirmed his death the next day on the Sal Soul radio station and messages of affection on the internet to his family and friends followed, as well as recognition from the world of art. Ruben Blades regretted what had happened, remembering the great sense of humor of 'El Gallo.'

Tributes also came from Elvis Crespo and Don Omar, among many others.

The governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez, also expressed her condolences, and the mayor of Humacao, Luis Raúl Sánchez Hernández, decreed five days of mourning in the city, emphasizing the commitment that Rojas maintained throughout his life with the Humacao community.

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