Enrique José Martín Morales, 24 December 1971, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Formerly a member of the perennially youthful boy band, Menudo, Ricky Martin established himself as one of the leading Latin pop stars of the 90s. By the end of the decade he had also enjoyed crossover success on the back of the chart-topping English language single, Livin La Vida Loca.
Martin first began acting and singing in grade school, and when he was 10 gained an audition with Latin teen-idols Menudo. Martin eventually joined Menudo in 1984, and continued to record and tour with them until the late 80s (to ensure the bands youthful image, members were required to leave when they reached the age of 16). Martin spent a short period in New York before moving to Mexico, where he gained a regular slot in the Mexican soap opera Alcanzar Una Estrella II. His recording career also took off when 1991s self-titled debut album and the 1993 follow-up Me Amaras achieved gold status in several countries. Martin moved to Los Angeles in 1994, and broke into the North American television market playing singing bartender Miguel Morez in the long-running soap opera General Hospital. His third Spanish-language album, 1995s A Medio Vivir (produced by fellow Menudo veteran Robi Rosa), broadened his fanbase by introducing rock stylings into the Latin mix, and generated the international hit single, Maria. Martin also performed No Importa La Distancia for the Spanish language version of Walt Disneys Hercules, and landed the role of Marius in the Broadway production of Les Misérables. Vuelve was released in February 1998, and debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Latin chart. The title track topped the Latin singles chart for four weeks, while La Copa De La Vida, the official song of the soccer World Cup, was also highly successful when released as a single, reaching number 1 in several countries.
Martin won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance, and his sensational performance at Februarys ceremony caused a dramatic surge in sales of Vuelve. All of a sudden Martins media-friendly face was everywhere, and he was hyped as the leading figure in a new wave of Latin pop stars including Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, and Luis Miguel. Exploiting the hype to the full Martin released the lively Livin La Vida Loca, which reached number 1 in the US Hot 100 in May 1999, and stayed at the top for five weeks. In the process, it became Columbia Records biggest-selling number 1 single of all time. His self-titled English language debut, produced by Rosa and Desmond Child, entered the US album chart at number 1 at the end of the month, although it was soon knocked off the top by the Backstreet Boys Millennium. In July, Livin La Vida Loca entered the UK singles chart at number 1. Martins crucial follow-up single, Shes All I Ever Had, climbed to US number 2 in September. Another sparkling transatlantic hit single, She Bangs, served as an effective launch pad for his first release of the new millennium, Sound Loaded.
After a lengthy time out of the media spotlight Martin returned, a little older and a little wiser, with Las Almas Del Silencio in 2003. In his time away from the music scene he had thrown himself into charity work, setting up the People For Children project to highlight the sexual exploitation of children. Martin returned to the upper regions of the US charts in late 2005 with his new English language release, Life.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.