Héctor Rivera, (b 26 Jan. '33 in Manhattan, NYC, d 8 Jan. '06, NYC) was a talented and highly respected Latin pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and producer.
Started pro career with rumba band of José Rodríguez; studied at NYC's Lecompte Academy of Music, as well as under pianist Luis Varona and Eddie Forestier '48; latter hired him to fill the piano chair with his band. Joined Elmo García's orchestra '51; departed '52 to organise his own band Los Tubos del Mambo, which debuted at Hunts Point Palace in the Bronx on same bill as Orlando Marín's recently formed group including pianist Eddie Palmieri. Drafted into the US Army '53-5, did a tour of duty in Korea; after his discharge he studied arranging and composing with Gil Fuller, played with bands of Alfredito Levy (a six month stint) and Moncho Leña.
During the cha cha chá era, Rivera secured a recording date from Fuller (in his capacity as A&R man) earmarked for an aggrieved García, whose other arranger had let him down; the outcome was Rivera's LP debut Let's Cha Cha Chá '57 on Mercury; he composed and arranged the entire album accompanied by Machito's band minus saxes. After this he led a quintet, did a one-year stint with Arsenio Rodríguez and replaced Palmieri in the Vicentico Valdés orchestra '58-64.
While still with Valdés, he made two classic early '60s LPs for Epic: Charanga & Pachanga!, including Manny Oquendo on bongo and Santos Colón, Rudy Calzado and Valdés contributing vocals, and Viva Rivera! '61. Following Valdés, he played and recorded with Johnny Pacheco's band Nuevo Tumbao '64-6. Contributed his talents to a number of Joe Cuba's key '60s albums. Had top 40 hit with the boogaloo / Latin soul single "At The Party" '67, included on the Latin soul set At The Party With Héctor Rivera '67.
Sadly, Rivera was among those bandleaders "locked-out" from NYC's monopolistically controlled salsa gig circuit during the '70s, and eventually retired from the frontline salsa scene.
In Feb. 2000, The Point Community Development Corporation, a Latino run organisation located in the Hunts Point Section of the Bronx, awarded Héctor and nine other individuals for their contributions to Latin music.
Hector contracted Parkinson's disease and reportedly died of pneumonia. (Info edited from The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music )