Johnny Cruz is a modern day Renaissance man; an accomplished musician, CEO, business owner, audio engineer and producer, as well as a TV and radio host.
Born in New York City on July 7, 1959, he was raised between the city that never sleeps and Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto. Ever since he was a boy, Johnny has been drawn to music, though none called to him more than salsa.
Johnny's musical career began in the 1970s, when he enrolled in the Boys & Girls Harbor School of Music. He began his first year playing the trombone, and later discovered his passion for percussion through the timbales, which led him to focus his studies on the Latin Percussion Program.
There he learned to play the timbales, bongos, and congas, and dedicated himself to sharing his island's music, alongside the greats of his generation.
Determined to realize his dream, Johnny formed his own band in the 1980s called Johnny Cruz y "Su Generación" and began playing locally around New York City. They were together for fourteen years before going their separate ways to focus on their individual goals.
In the time that followed, Johnny took a hiatus from the music scene to focus on more personal pursuits. He decided to follow in his father's footsteps, buying his own brownstone in East Harlem, otherwise known as "El Barrio", where he helped to establish and eventually manage the family business for more than thirty years.
In 2006, Johnny returned with a bang, releasing his CD titled "Johnny Cruz and the Dream Team- Back to the Classics." Johnny's initial vision became a reality, and he recorded this album with some of the most influential singers and musicians in the salsa industry.
The singers included Adalberto Santiago, Frankie Vasquez, Ray Bayona, Cheo Medina, and Ray Sepulveda; and the musicians lineup featured Ruben Rodriguez, Freddie Rivera, Eric Velez, Pedro Pocholo Segundo, Eddie Rivera, Cuki Santos, Wilson Mercado, Gazu, and Moises Noguera; as well as musicians Louis Pereira and Freddy Miranda as musical director and producer, respectively; and Johnny himself, as timbalero and executive producer.
In 2012 he released his sophomore album "Johnny Cruz Pas Tribute to the Godfather of Salsa-Adalberto Santiago". The album's success preceded him to produce an extraordinary tribute concert at Lehman College July 7, 2012. The concert featured many talented musicians and singers who were also part of the album.
In tandem to releasing music, Johnny created the Johnny Cruz Show Network.
Under this network, he collaborates with the International Salsa Magazine (ISM),
created a public access TV show titled "Windows of Latin America", which has been available for more than 25 years on PBS, and became the producer and cohost of the radio show "SalsaMania".
Both shows were made possible by Tiffany Recording Studios, founded by Johnny to facilitate the creation of content that focuses on the worldwide phenomenon of salsa music globally, often featuring interviews and live performances.
Today, the brownstone where "Johnny's Lexington Avenue Hardware Store" was located for over 30 years now houses the result of Johnny's lifework. The SPAHA Salsa Gallery can be found on the corner of E107th St and Lexington Ave, in the heart of Spanish Harlem and steps away from Museum Mile.
It's home to New York's only collection of salsa music memorabilia, and showcases the history, culture, and impact of salsa on American music, in addition to society.
The museum's mission is to work with the community to preserve salsa history and empower the youth of Spanish Harlem through cultural education Johnny dreams to immortalize every legend of the genre by sharing their legacy, and see his initial dream to completion.