Part One

Pages 24 through 27 and bottom of 28 through 29.

         When Frankie performed at night clubs, the audiences never

danced while he was singing. They would gather around the stage

and watch and listen with rapt attention. Not that it was considered

disrespectful to other singers when their audiences danced while

they were singing; after all, salsa music is dance music and if the

music and singing is that good, people are going to dance to the

music. And so dancing while the band is playing is perfectly alright

and even complimentary. But Frankie, who filled concert halls and

stadiums, turned a night club audience into a concert audience.

They would come to see Frankie, listen and watch him perform.

Such was his charisma and impact on the audience.

        These two performances that took place in November 1997

were just a warm-up, a beginning to what lay ahead and they took

place before November 30, the day of his repentance and deliverance

from santeria and his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now Frankie had a new and exciting focus, Jehovah God and the

kingdom to come. Of course he still wanted to sing but he had

peace with God now. He didn't feel so driven to sing all the time, to

accept any and every job that came along. He would be more selective

now. He would take the assignments he really wanted to do.

Now that Jehovah gave him the new abundant life eternal through

the gift of the Holy Spirit, his faith in Jesus God was now the main

purpose of his living. Frankie's sight had changed. He had new eyes

and he was seeing everything differently. He began to enjoy the simple

things in life, something he didn't appreciate all the years before

when he was in the darkness and was only into himself. Frankie

was now into Jesus and Jesus was in Frankie.

        A source of great comfort, encouragement and help to Frankie

during his recovery period and since his return to New Jersey in

1993 was Rosemary's mother, Rosario. He addressed her as "Ma"

and she treated him like a son. In retrospect, looking back on this

whole episode involving Frankie, Rosemary and Rosemary's mother,

Rosario and her family in Union City, it was destiny, God's plan.

Growing up in and around Union City, Frankie was friends with Joe,

one of Rosemary's older brothers. He used to go over to Joe's house

so he knew Mrs. Salvador as a little boy. Unbeknownst to young

Frankie, when he was ten or eleven years old, the baby girl in the

Salvador household would one day be his fiance.

        Rosemary remembers being taken by her parents to a talent

show when she was about ten years old to see her brother Joe perform

with his salsa band called Orquesta Nueva. Joe was the bass

player. Rosemary has no recollection nor was it of any significance

at the time that the lead singer of Orquesta Nueva was Frankie Ruiz.

Their lives were intertwined. Rosemary was there with Frankie at

the beginning of his career and was with him at his side at the end

of his life. It must've been deja vu for Frankie that at the end of his

life, he returned to the place of his childhood. Frankie had gone full

circle. He had returned to the place where it all began, New Jersey,

having grown up in the cities of Patterson and Union City.

        It was in August 1993 that after many years away from New

Jersey, Frankie returned to the New York-New Jersey area and

was performing at a festival in Weehawken, New Jersey at the

Hudson River's edge down the cliffs of Boulevard East with the

New York City skyline as a backdrop. As fate would have it,

Rosemary was working at an ice cream booth at the festival but

too preoccupied with her work to be concerned about who would

be appearing at the music show. However, her brother Joe was at

the festival and attended Frankie's performance afterwards meeting

up with Frankie and subsequently reestablishing their relationship,

for it had been about twenty years since the early days

of Orquesta Nueva. Their reuniting went so well that Frankie

offered Joe a position with his troupe as a road manager which

Joe gladly accepted. Ironically, the date of this appearance by

Frankie at this festival in 1993 and subsequent meeting with Joe,

Rosemary's brother, was August 9, the very date that Frankie

would pass away five years later.

        This meeting of Joe and Frankie eventually led to Joe bringing

Frankie to visit his mother. At this time, the Salvador family was in

mourning. Rosario's husband and father of her children, Peter, Joe

and Rosemary had passed away just a week earlier. Nevertheless,

Rosario greeted Frankie with the warmest of welcomes, not letting

her grief prevent her from extending a cordial homecoming to

Frankie. There had been many years and much success for Frankie

since the last time he had been at Joe's parent's house. This was

surely a homecoming of sorts. In October of that year, the realization

that twenty years away from home is a long time, strongly impacted

Frankie when he visited Joe's parent's home and was introduced to

Rosemary. The last time Frankie had seen Rosemary she was about

ten years old. Frankie was apparently a bit taken aback by this very

attractive young woman standing before him because he said to her:

"Gee! You're all grown up!" Then he asked her, "Have you come to

any of my performances?" Rosemary replied with no intention to

offend, "I'm not interested in salsa music." Considering who Frankie

was in the music world, this was a shaky start in their first meeting.

What a thing to tell "The Father of Salsa" but it didn't offend Frankie.

He quickly invited Rosemary and her mother to attend an upcoming

performance at Fox's night club in Jersey City. They graciously

accepted Frankie's invitation and proceeded to have an enjoyable

evening, nothing occurring that would indicate a lifelong relationship

in bloom, but it was interesting and friendly. It must have been

very interesting for Rosemary's mother to see her children and

Frankie together again as grownups, having seen them together just

a few decades ago as children.

        To the people who were around Frankie when he was a boy, it

was very obvious to them that Frankie was going to be a singer in

life because he was always singing. Rosario can recall in the late

60s when Frankie was about seven, eight years of age, how he

would go around singing the popular songs he would hear on the

radio or at home on the record player. At this early age, he was

showing his ability to memorize not only the words of the songs,

but the melodies as well. Even then he was performing, acting out

what he was saying in the song. He was already showing his interpretive

and improvisational talents. Rosemary's father was a member

of the El Deportivo*, a softball team sponsored by the bar of the

same name, which was located on 26th Street and Central Avenue in

Union City. Being part of a softball league required the teams to

play some of their games on the road and visit the neighboring

towns. The team would charter a couple of buses and they would

make a family outing out of the day; team members bringing their

families and food for the picnic. Frankie would seize the opportunity

having a captive audience on the bus and would happily entertain

all, singing away, standing up in the aisle for long periods of time.

The performance didn't stop when he was tired either cause his

younger brother Viti would take over center stage and he would

join in singing. Sometimes his other brother Junito would also join

in making it a trio. One could imagine what it must've been like on

a four-hour bus ride with the singing salsa brothers performing with

the dynamic energy of children. It must've been something. In

telling me this story Rosario seemed to imply that some of the tired

adults were happy when the boys got tired and went to sleep.

        Frankie's very close cousin Becky Cintron, who throughout

Frankie's life was more like a sister, recalled that during a period

of their early years when they were living with their grandmother

in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, at times Frankie would declare with the

utmost certainty, "I'm going to be a famous singer! I'm going to be

a famous singer!" When Becky mocked him teasingly expressing

her doubt that he would ever be famous, he would get annoyed

and start beating on pots and pans with a spoon creating the

rhythm section to accompany his even louder singing which

would cause his grandmother to demand that Frankie stop making

all the noise and be quiet. Frankie would respond defiantly

with more pot and pan percussions and louder singing declaring,

"No, I won't be quiet! I'm going to be a famous singer! I'm going to

be a famous singer!" At seven years of age, Frankie knew that he

was going to be a famous singer.


        Christmas Eve 1997 at Peter and Nancy's home, the place for

the family's traditional Christmas Eve celebration, Frankie came

with a special Christmas gift for Rosemary, a diamond ring. Before

all present he formally announced their engagement and his love

for Rosemary down on one knee, and while holding her hand,

placed the ring on her finger. There were toasts and then some

dancing and Frankie was in the center of the floor dancing to the

music of one of his own CDs that someone very graciously placed

in the player. There was plenty of good food and lively conversation

and at midnight gifts were exchanged. A good time was had by all.

In addition to the acknowledgement of the birth of Christ the Lord

God, praise His holy name, Jesus! the other celebration that was

taking place was Frankie's deliverance and salvation and new birth

in Christ Jesus. Frankie was now born again having repented and

now following God Jesus Christ. Frankie's life was new and he was

starting over again, as he was later to record in May of '98 in his last

recording and hit song, "Vuelvo a Nacer."* He was at this time

beginning to live his new holy Christian righteous life. Frankie was

looking his best. He had a healthy, wholesome righteous look about

him. He looked new, at times even illuminated. This look was evident

in photos taken during this time. He never looked better. He

was now engaged to be married. He was in the midst of a career

comeback rehearsing for two big New Year's Eve performances. He

was convinced now that he could sing again and was happy about

that. This was a concern he had after his hospitalization in '96 in

Florida due to his weakening liver and other complications which

caused him to go into a coma. As a result of his doctors placing him

on a respirator and placing a ventilator hose down his throat, his

vocal chords were scraped and injured. Coming out of that coma

days later and finding a big hose stuck down his throat was a shock.

His worst fear was that his singing voice was damaged. He knew

immediately his singing career was in jeopardy. He couldn't speak

- let alone sing. His first thought was an expression of shock and

dismay that he lost his voice. But here he was a year later singing

praises to Jehovah God and singing songs again. Frankie was thanking

the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation, his health, his voice

restored and for being in the process of making his comeback after

a year layoff. Yes, Christmas 1997, things were definitely looking

promising for Frankie and we were all rejoicing and hopeful with

him, looking forward to great things to come in the New Year.


Part Two

Pages 43 through 46.

        December 31, 1997 Rosemary and Frankie spent a quiet day

together relaxing and getting prepared for the midnight club date at

Albert's, and then the 3 a.m. date at the Latin Quarter. On such days

it was hard to relax for Frankie because of the intensity building up

in him as he planned for and anticipated his work for the night.

        But their time in prayer and worship in the early part of the day

gave Frankie and Rosemary the tranquility that they needed to deal

with the increasing enthusiasm and activity of such a day as this as

the day drew nearer to showtime. What with making preparation

and arrangements with Frankie's manager, his band members, limousine

company, entourage members and all those last-minute

phone calls, things surely got a little hectic. Such is the life of a star

performer, and even though Frankie had been through this hundreds

of times, it was always somewhat nerve-racking just like the

first time. The added pressure of this being a comeback performance

on New Year's Eve certainly added to the anxiety. Frankie

would wear for this night's performance his special outfit that

Rosemary bought for him. A metallic, light grey and silver jacket,

which had an iridescent sheen to it, which would reflect the stage

lights. Black turtleneck pullover, black pants and shoes. As the hour

neared to depart for Albert's in Jersey City, the apartment became

a hub of activity with the phone ringing and the entourage of

Rosemary's family and Frankie's family members and friends dropping

by. Frankie, groomed and wearing his beautiful outfit, put on

his large gold cross, praying to himself as he draped it over his head

to hang around his neck laying on his chest. A large, shining gold

cross with the Christ figure draped against Frankie's black turtleneck

provided quite a contrast. The cross surely stood out. All

would certainly see this dazzling cross. And as Frankie looked in

the mirror at himself before he and the entourage prepared to leave

the apartment for the waiting limousine, he must've received some

encouragement looking at the cross around his neck which was

sure to remind him that the Lord Jesus Christ was with him and

died for him.

        Before they left the apartment, silence came over them as they

gathered together in the living room. Frankie, Rosemary, Rosario,

Rosemary's mother; Peter and his wife Nancy, and Rosemary's

brother Joe and Frankie's childhood friend Noli, all in a circle, holding

hands, praying for Jehovah's mercy and power to be bestowed

upon Frankie, enabling him to sing effectively and more than that,

that the audiences see God's salvation and light in Frankie, and that

they, like Frankie, would get saved by Jesus. That they would praise

Jehovah when they see and hear the new Frankie they prayed.

        This was a special New Year's Eve celebration for Frankie and

his family. In addition to the fact that this was his comeback performance,

which was very important, everyone was happy to be

together as a family seeing the new year in. It was as though

Frankie and the group were going out to celebrate the coming of

the new year as any family would celebrate, but in addition,

Frankie would be singing as well which of course made it very

special. Frankie was very happy that night. In the limousine ride

over to Albert's, you could see the excitement welling up in him.

He was genuinely happy. He was beaming. You could see the light

in his eyes and face. There was a radiance about him. When they

arrived at the club after greeting the thirteen members of his band

backstage and discussing some pre-show details, Frankie and the

others, Rosario, Peter, Nancy, Joe and Noli gathered in a circle

and had another time of holy prayer for Frankie. Others backstage,

the band members included, looked on with a combination

of curiosity and reverence at this prayer meeting with Frankie in

the center. This clearly was not Frankie's practice in the past to

have a prayer meeting before going on stage. This was, however,

the beginning of what would be Frankie's ritual before every performance.

There would be a time of prayer at the house before the

ride to the place of engagement, whether for performance or just

to be in attendance. Then there would be another prayer backstage.

The Lord Jesus Christ said, "Let your light shine before

men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in

Heaven."2 Frankie was letting his "light shine before men."

        The New Year's Eve crowd at Albert's was a typical large and

festive group out to party-in the new year, and many were in attendance

because Frankie would be performing. His fans were there in

large number. When Frankie was announced, and as he came on

stage, his fans just about brought down the house with tumultuous

applause and loud cheers. You could see the sincere gladness in

their faces. They were really glad to see him again and surely glad

to see him looking so well, looking like the charismatic star that he

was. The band played terrifically and filled both Albert's and three

hours later, the Latin Quarter, with dynamic, pulsating salsa music

with "The Father of Salsa" performing excellently and powerfully

many of his famous hits to the continued applause, cheers and joy

of the crowds. Frankie put on quite a show at both clubs. The number

that really overwhelmed the audiences and brought them to

tears and to praise God was when Frankie, while singing "La

Cura*," suddenly started improvising and replaced the lyrics of the

song with spontaneous expressions of praises to God Jesus, proclaiming

Jehovah's mercy and forgiveness that had been given to

him from Heaven.

        With the audiences in stunned silence, Frankie went on to sing

of his deliverance from his wayward life apart from God to repentance

and salvation. He sang beautifully of how Jesus Christ saved

him and how grateful he was to God for everything that he had done

for him. Frankie urged his listeners to "turn to Jesus Christ and be

saved too!" The audience now knew that the big, beautiful cross

around Frankie's neck illuminating off his black shirt was not a costume

jewelry decoration worn as many do, but this crucifixion of

Jesus around Frankie's neck was symbolic of the real Christ from

Heaven who suffered and died for him on the cross. The audiences

at Albert's and Latin Quarter that New Year's Eve never expected to

hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Frankie Ruiz but he did

preach to them and they applauded him sincerely and generously

for it, some with tears.

        Earlier in the show at the Latin Quarter, Hector "Macho"

Camacho, Frankie's friend, the former welterweight boxing

champion, jumped on stage during Frankie's act and started

dancing while Frankie sang. They fooled around a bit and the

crowd loved it and applauded them. Later, Frankie's brother Viti

joined Frankie on stage and they did a duet together that went

very well which all enjoyed. The brothers Ruiz enjoyed singing

together that night as they had as children. Here they were singing

again before an appreciative audience. This New Year's Eve and

New Year's Day would be a memorable one. After the performances,

Frankie did what he and other performers don't ordinarily do,

mingle with members of the audiences, sitting at their tables and

chatting with them. Normally after the performance, Frankie

would go backstage, spend a few minutes with band members,

manager and members of the entourage to relax a bit, discuss how

things went and other business matters and then leave the club.

But now he was so relaxed and eager to join the party and be like

everyone else. Frankie was never a pretentious person but down

to earth. The new Frankie in the new year would be even more

casual and friendly. He was now in the truth and couldn't be bothered

with make-believe anymore. Plus he didn't have much

time to be pretentious. After spending some time visiting with the

patrons, he took Rosemary onto the dance floor and they danced

before all. Quite fitting that the newly engaged couple should have

the first dance of the new year. How proud Frankie was of his

beautiful fiancee Rosemary, who was sparkling and dazzling like

the diamond on her finger.

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