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Vinicio Antonio Franco Rodríguez (1933 - 2020), better known as Vinicio “Mambo” Franco, was one of the most important and iconic merengue singers from the Dominican Republic. Franco began his professional singing career in 1952, and his first recordings were made in 1957, accompanying Antonio Morel’s orchestra. After scoring a number of hits with Morel, including the merengue classic “Apágame La Vela,” he became the lead singer of Super Orquesta San José and performed regularly on La Voz Dominicana (Dominican television). From there, Vinicio traveled to Puerto Rico, where he joined a re-formed Cortijo Y Su Combo for a brief stint in 1965. Then, Johnny Ventura came calling in the late 1960s to hire him as a co-lead singer in his Combo Show band, helping Johnny earn a gold record for the LP Ah..! Yo No Se…No. Always looking for new opportunities, Vinicio accepted Rafael Solano’s invitation to join his orchestra, where he remained for several years with great success, touring South America, the Caribbean, and performing in New York and Miami as well.

-Pablo Yglesias

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