(born 1926), is a Salsa musician
and the founder of the highly successful orchestra El Gran Combo
. Ithier was born in Río Piedras
, now a part of greater San Juan
Ithier was born in the Puerta de Tierra
sector of San Juan. Raised in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
, he showed a passion for music at a very young age. His father, Nicolas Ithier, played music together with Rafael Hernandez Marin
, another of Puerto Rico
's music legends.
Ithier became an expert guitarist in the bolero
genre, and he was a member of the Tito Henriquez
His sister Esperanza later inspired him to learn how to play the piano.
Ithier and his namesake, Rafael Cortijo
, knew each other and formed a friendship at an early age; rumors of animosity would later surface but they both denied it, saying they considered themselves to be "like brothers." Ithier joined Cortijo's orchestra, "Cortijo y su Combo", during the 1950s. Before that, he was in a New York group named the "Borinqueneers Mambo
In 1977 Ithier worked as a music arranger on the debut album for the Puerto Rican ensemble band "Puerto Rico All Stars
El Gran Combo
In 1962, Ithier formed "El Gran Combo", becoming the orchestra's leader. He has held that position for over forty years, and he continues to tour with the group, as of 2010.
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