Joe Bataan was born Bataan Nitollano and grew up in the 103rd St. and Lexington Ave. part of East Harlem where he briefly led the Dragons, a local Puerto Rican street gang, before being sent to the Coxsackie Correctional Facility to serve time for a stolen car charge. His father was Filipino and his mother was African American
Upon his release in 1965, he turned his attention to music and formed his first band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers. Bataan was influenced by two musical styles: the Latin boogaloo and African American doo-wop. Though Bataan was neither the first nor only artist to combine doo-wop-style singing with Latin rhythms, his talent for it drew the attention of Fania Records. After signing with them in 1966, Bataan released "Gypsy Woman," in 1967. (The title track is a Latin dance cover of "Gypsy Woman" by The Impressions.) He would, in full, release eight original titles for Fania which included the gold-selling "Riot!". These Fania albums often mixed energetic Latin dance songs, sung in Spanish, with slower, English-language soul ballads sung by Bataan himself. As a vocalist, Bataan's fame in the Latin music scene at the time was only rivaled by Ralfi Pagan.
Latin Strut [instrumental] was composed by Joe Bataan.
The thoughts raised are biographical.
The kid from the streets, gang-leader to jailbird to free man to musician & band leader.
From the school of very hard knocks & the oft-times seething forge of Spanish Harlem.
To a man who believes Love is the answer. And proves it by the heart of his art & the arc of his life.
from the album "Salsoul"