Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

Pablo Alfaro

More than a year after rocketing to international stardom with "Livin' la Vida Loca," crossover Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin will finally tour Japan. As this article went to press, tickets were still available for his four Tokyo dates.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1971, Ricky Martin became one of the most successful teen idols in Latin America as lead singer for the group Menudo. After leaving the band in 1989, he returned to Puerto Rico to complete high school.

Upon graduation, Martin relocated to New York, where he released his self-titled debut album, co-written with former Menudo mate Robi Rosa, a frequent collaborator over the years. That album, along with Me Amaras in 1993, vaulted the hunky singer to superstar status in Latin America.

Meanwhile, Martin was laying the groundwork for future crossover success by appearing on American soap opera General Hospital. He acquainted himself with a non-Latin audience by playing the role of Miguel Morez, a bartender who sings on the weekend. The role lead to a stint playing Marlo in Les Miserables, with which he toured for nearly a year.

Two more Spanish albums, A Medio Vivir in 1995 and Vuelve in 1998, cemented Martin's position atop the charts in Latin America. His English-language debut, also titled Ricky Martin, appeared in 1999 with the assistance of Madonna and producers Emilio Estafan Jr and William Orbit among other luminaries. The rest, as they say, is history.

While Ricky Martin inspires oohs and aahs among legions, a quick surf on the Web shows that he has also inspired a good number of detractors. Two websites opposed to Ricky Martin, "Ricky Martin Sucks" and "Ricky Martin Will Burn In Rock and Roll Hell," decry Martin"s role in popularizing the "formulated, marketed, prefabricated" music typified by acts like the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, which seized the world's imagination in the late '90s.

Ricky Martin plays Yoyogi Kyogijo Number 1 Gymnasium on 9/30 & 10/1, and Nihon Budokan on 10/4-5 See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana