Johnny ortiz

Johnny Ortiz

What Little I Know About Johnny Ortiz…
 by Arq. Luis A. Méndez

How can I summarize this great personality of our land?

“… Puerto Rican essayist, poet, and Latin music author/composer of many salsa songs. Known especially for his musical poetry and meaningful lyrics, Johnny's compositions is an extension of his character that often reflects his love for life and culture.”

Juan Ramón Ortiz González (Johnny Ortiz) was born in Isabela, Puerto Rico. He is considered by many in the music industry as one of the greatest and most prolific composers of Latin Music ever. To many in town, he is still one of ours, no labels or statutes. Little do I know about his life, but what I have gathered and read, and the little I have shared with him discloses a life of accomplishments, so unique, that it is surprising it has escaped notice to many in town for so long. Well there goes the saying: “No one can be a priest in his hometown” (Nadie es cura en su pueblo)

Johnny is 8 years my elder; I was about 10 years old when I came across Johnny, jumping off a widow from the pool hall across the street. Yep! There was a gambling raid, common on those times. Although he was not involved in any illicit gambling, he was there, and on those times to the eyes of law enforcement “everybody was guilty until proven innocent”. I remembered him as he is now, as a jovial and outgoing person, always the ‘king of the crowd’, and the “guy everybody wanted to hang out with”. Since I resided nearby, I observed he spent a lot of his time in the pool hall across the street, playing ‘9” ball and performing tricks and jokes with Juanito “Africa”, the manager. He was a master on the pool table! And always with his beat, composing stories, singing songs and making up ballads before he had someone defeated on the pool table.

In the early sixties, Johnny traveled to New York City, where he studied accounting. But his love was Music… and so it was. Unwittingly, I followed his career, for I always tended to read the back of my records then and that of the CD’s now. And there he was, the composer of many songs such as "Catalina La O" and "Ritmo del Corazon". He was, and still is a natural. From Celia Cruz to Ray Barreto, to FANIA Records to Victor Manuelle, Johnny has always been in the musical high times.

Today, whenever he can, he spends time in his hometown of Isabela, Puerto Rico, sharing and participating in musical and other activities. Finally, he has been honored and recognized by many local institutions, including the municipal government, for his accomplishments. I have shared with him personally in a few occasions, and what I remember from him is still there, unchanged. That is why I want to honor and recognize him in a manner fit to the greatness of his accomplishments, through exposure to the world community and by gradually compiling and disseminating information on this great composer.

 Visit this Great Composers website