TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- Fruko's First Album
In 1968, Julio Ernesto Estrada, Fruko, toured New York as the percussionist for the Corraleros de Majagual. He was already curious about Salsa music, and his intrest became cemented here as he met and performed next to the big names of the new genre: Tito Puente, Richie Ray, Bobbie Cruz, Willie Colón, Hector Lavoe, and the Ray Barreto Band.
As Fruko reminisced during his interview with La W Radio Station in Medellín, it was during one of these trips to New York that on one occasion a television hostess asked him on camera, if he and his band were bringing "la hierbita" from Colombia. This was a deliberate pun. The Corraleros had a hit song called "La Hierbita" or Yierbita (grass, lawn). But "yierbita" was also a euphemism for a less innocuous, yet very popular plant smoked during the sixties. The song was a catchy clean tune. I guess "quiero sentarme contigo en la hierbita, en la hierbita, en la hierbita. . . ." (I want to sit with you on the grass. . . .) can be construed in a number of ways. Colombia was already developing a reputation, and not only as a country with great music.
Perhaps it should not be a surprise then that after creating his own band, Fruko y Sus Tesos (Fruko and His Tough Guys) and releasing their first Salsa album in 1970, Tesura (Toughness) he decided to pose for the cover looking like a thug with a gun hanging from his neck. This is how Colombia met Salsa music. Tesura only sold about 400 copies, but Fruko's new sound still managed to generate great interest. The tough guy look was also keeping in style with what Willie Colón had been doing in New York.
Here are two samples: The infamous La Hierbita by Los Corraleros de Majagual
and from the album Tesura, Improvisando by Fruko y Sus Tesos