Menudo is a Puerto Rican boy band that rose to fame in the early 80s. Some of their most popular hits include “Sabes A Chocolate”, “Hold Me”, “Please Be Good to Me”, “You Got Potential”, and “A Cara O Cruz”.
Are they still making music? Where are they now in 2023? Let’s find out.
The Band’s Early Years
The boy band was formed in 1977 by Edgardo Diaz, a music producer. The original lineup consisted of five people: his cousins, the Melendez brothers, Carlos, Oscar, and Ricky, and the Sallaberry brothers, Nefty and Fernando.
With Diaz’s help, they landed a recording deal with Padosa Records and subsequently released their first album in 1977. Titled, Los Fantasmas, it featured elements of pop and consisted of ten tracks including “Mamadu”, “Quiero Verte Feliz”, “Mi Guitarra”, and “Madre.” Not only that but it also included a rendition of Micky’s “Ensename a cantar”.
A second album soon followed in 1978, though it didn’t gain much traction. Not long afterward, Nefty left the group; he was subsequently replaced by Rene Farrait.
In 1979, they released their third album, Chiquitita. Recorded at Estudio Torrest Sonido, in Madrid Spain, the project featured ten new songs including “Voy A America”, “Solo Tu Amor”, “Soy Natural”, “De Tu Vuelo”, and “Voulez-Vous.”
By the end of the year, Carlos Melendez, who was fifteen at the time, left the band. He was replaced by twelve-year-old Johnny Lozada, who made his debut in their holiday album, Felicidades, which came out in December 1979.
The Band’s Rise to Fame in the 80s
By the early 1980s, the group had released several hits including “Los Fantasmas” and “Voulez-Vous.” Not only that but they also came out with three music videos, including one that featured Puerto Rican artist Ednita Nazario.
Their seventh album, Fuego, which came out in 1981, was also a commercial success. It was also the second album that featured the group’s new lineup, consisting of Rene Farrait, Ricky and Oscar Melendez, Xavier Serbia, and Johnny Lozada. Some notable tracks from the project include “De Tu Vuelo”, “Dona Tecla”, “El Momento Del Adios”, “El Pavo Real”, and “A Bilar”, most of which featured Rene as the lead vocalist.
However, it wasn’t until they released their ninth album, Quiero Ser, that they shot to international stardom. Praised by critics, it included numerous hits including “Subete A Mi Moto”, “Claridad”, “Quiero Ser”, “Rock En La TV”, and “Mi Banda Toca Rock.” Its popularity also spawned a telenovela series of the same name.
That same year, the band hosted a TV program called Gente Joven de Menudo. Not only that but they also hosted a beauty pageant titled “Menudo’s Young Girl”, in which the winner would be able to make occasional appearances in their videos or join them at concerts in the U.S.
By then, they had become one of the most popular boy bands in Latin America, from Brazil to Argentina. Not only that but they also became the first musical group to own their own private jet, after Diaz bought a Lockheed JetStar- one that featured the band’s name on the sides of the aircraft.
At one point, they also starred in their own feature movies titled Una Aventura Llamada Menudo and Menudo: La Pelicula.
The Band’s Growing Popularity in the United States
In early 1983, the group visited New York for the first time. Around the same time, Xavier Serbia was replaced by Ray Reyes.
Due to their New York visit, their American fanbase grew quickly, to the point where they eventually landed their own music segment called Menudo on ABC, which was included in ABC’s Saturday morning programming block. Not only that but they were also invited to perform the theme song for the animated series, Rubik, the Amazing Cube.
Despite their popularity, however, Miguel Cancel chose to leave the group. It was later revealed in a subsequent interview that he was unhappy with his voice change, which prompted him to voluntarily quit before he was actually scheduled to leave. He was then replaced by thirteen-year-old Roy Rossello.
Not long afterward, the band signed a multi-million dollar recording deal with RCA International. They subsequently released the album A Todo Rock, which included two sides, each of which featured five tracks. Some highlights include “Piel De Manzana”, “Una Buena Razon”, “Amor En Bicicieta”, “No Te Reprimas”, “Ladron De Armor”, and “Indianapolis.”
A huge hit, it sold more than 3 million copies worldwide in just a few months, according to Time magazine.
During that period, they also began to mass produce Menudo merchandise, which included trading cards, fanzines, board games, t-shirts, as well as dolls. Not only that but Menudo school supplies and clothing accessories were also available in stores.
Their First English-Language Album
In January 1984, Menudo released their first English-language album, Reaching Out. Featuring Roy Rossello, Charlie Masso, Ricky Melendez, Ray Reyes, and new band member Robby Rosa, it came with ten songs including “Fly Away”, “Gotta Get On Moving”, “If You’re Not Here”, “Heavenly Angel”, “Gimme Rock”, and “Motorcycle Dreamer.” Not only that but it also included “Like a Cannonball”, which was originally recorded for the 1984 comedy film Cannonball Run II.
In Brazil, the album sold more than 425,000 copies. It also charted on the Billboard 200 at number 108, making it their first album to chart in the United States.
Several months later, Ricky Melendez, the only original member, left the band. He was replaced by twelve-year-old Ricky Martin, who made his debut in the group’s sixteenth album, Evolution.
During this period, the group’s popularity also reached parts of Asia including the Philipines and Japan. The members also began to film English-language commercials for various companies including Crest, Burger King, Pepsi, Mcdonald’s, and Scope. They were even invited as guest stars to an episode of Sesame Street.
By the end of September 1984, they had sold more than 8 million records worldwide. Despite that, Ray Reyes left the group, a decision that greatly surprised fans, due to internal conflicts between their manager and his father.
The Band in the Mid to Late 80s
In 1985, Ray was replaced by thirteen-year-old Raymond Acevedo. The group subsequently recorded the Spanish song “Cantare, Cantare” with other popular artists to raise funds for UNICEF.
Not long afterward, they released their second English album, Menudi, which featured the hit song “Hold Me”, which charted at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not only that but it also included the songs “When I Dance With You”, “Chocolate Candy”, “Please Be Good to Me”, “Hold Me”, “Explosion”, “You and Me All the Way”, and “Transformation.”
It was soon followed by the Spanish album Ayer Y Hoy, and the Portuguese album, The Party Is Going to Start, the latter of which reached number 19 on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums chart. To support the albums, they also embarked on a tour, which saw them performing in front of hundreds of thousands of audiences. Despite their popularity, however, there was criticism that the shows were poorly organized as the number of fans often exceeded the venue’s capacity.
The group continued to record a number of albums in 1986, including Viva! Bravo!, their only Italian album to date, as well as the Portuguese album Menudo, and the English album Can’t Get Enough. They also sang at the San Remo Music Festival in Italy.
Internal Conflicts and Eventual Disbandment of the Group
Internal conflicts began to arise in early 1987. This led Robby, who was seventeen at the time, to leave the group suddenly in the middle of a tour. It was later revealed that he had been mocked by management for a song that he had written.
To make matters worse, the band was eventually dropped from RCA due to low sales. They subsequently signed with Melody Mexico. Around the same time, the group underwent an image makeover, which favored a “rougher” and “more rock-n-roll-like” aesthetic.
Soon afterward, they released the album “We Are the Sons of Rock”, which was followed by a Tagalog album called In Action. Not long afterward, however, Ralphy’s parents pulled him from the band, citing that he was being treated improperly by management.
While they continued to produce music into the 1990s, they kept running into problems. Not only did members leave, which resulted in many line-up changes, but some were also arrested on marijuana charges.
In 1996, the band released their final Spanish album titled “Tiempo De Amar”, which spawned a number of hit singles. They also changed their name from Menudo to El Reencuentro.
To celebrate their 15th anniversary, they also performed in several countries across Latin America, Spain, and North America. Previous members Ray Reyes, Rene Farrait, Johnny Lozada, and Ricky Melendez also joined them on stage for the occasion. In fact, the concerts were so popular that they eventually had to swap for a bigger venue.
However, the success was short-lived as they eventually disbanded in early 2003, albeit on amicable terms.
Where is Menudo Now In 2023 – Recent Updates
In 2016, four members of El Reencuentro, including Charlie Masso, Miguel Cancel, Rene Farrait, and Ray Reyes went on tour with Robert Avellanet. They also performed under their previous name Menudo, though, the project was quickly abandoned.
Several years later in 2019, Rene Farrait, Miguel Cancel, Ray Reyes, Johnny Lozada, and Ricky Melendez reunited again for a concert tour, which kicked off at Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center. However, it was eventually put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, Anthony Galindo, a former MDO and Menudo member, was found unconscious after an alleged suicide. Despite medical treatment at a local hospital, he eventually passed away a few days later. His family later revealed that he suffered from severe depression, which was triggered by the prolonged shutdown caused by the pandemic.
A year later on April 30, 2021, Ray Reyes passed away from a heart attack in his New Jersey home. He was 51 years old.
More recently in 2022, it was announced that Menudo would be “rebooted” under the new name “Menudo: A New Beginning” with a new group of singers and that actor Mario Lopez would oversee the project. After a series of auditions, which were held both in person and online, the new members of the group were announced. They eventually made themselves known on Good Morning America in March 2023, where they performed live.
What Happened to Nefty and Fernando Sallaberry?
Nefty performed with Menudo for two years, from 1977 to 1978. After graduating high school, he attended Marquette University, where he studied Computer Sciences. He currently works as an Information Technology Officer in a Puerto Rican company.
Like Nefty, Fernando left the group in 1978. From there, he pursued a successful solo career in South America and Puerto Rico. However, he was later diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition, which makes movement difficult. As a result, he uses a wheelchair, though he is able to continue to gain strength with therapy.
What Happened to Carlos Meléndez?
Carlos Melendez performed with Ricky, Nefty, and Fernando, for a brief period as XCHANGE, though they never signed a recording contract. They later disbanded a few months later.
He currently works as an architect in the Florida area, where he resides with his family.
What Happened to Óscar Meléndez?
Unlike his brothers, Oscar did not pursue any other musical endeavors after leaving Menudo. He currently works as a lawyer in his native Puerto Rico.
What Happened to Ricky Meléndez?
Ricky Melendez had the longest tenure out of all the original Menudo members. He performed his final concert with the group in 1984, where he was joined by many of the former members.
After leaving the band, he pursued various business ventures including a store in the popular Plaza Las Americas shopping ball. He later became a lawyer. He currently lives in Puerto Rico with his wife Mirian and their two children.