Joe Bataan

May 10, 2019

Latin soul legend Joe Bataan was born Bataan Nitollano in 1942 to African-American/Filipino parents. Growing up in Spanish Harlem he inevitably fell into gang culture.  Having briefly led a local Puerto Rican street gang named the Dragons, he fell foul of the law and was eventually incarcerated in the Coxsackie Correctional Facility. It’s here that he transformed his fortunes. He spent his 5 years inside learning piano and music theory.

On his release he burst onto the New York scene becoming the flagship act for the newly formed Fania records.  Here he learned record label management and in the 1970s he founded his own label, SalSoul records.  During the 80/90s/00s he became a social worker working with kids from his own humble and vulnerable beginnings, serving as a role model to inspire them away from the darker side of life.

Joe returned to recording in 2005 and continues to perform.

You can hear his interview with Ady here:


Why not browse the many other interviews on this site and get to know the back stories to the artists you know and love


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