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Divas & Superstars

Chapter 4: Ricky Martin: Livin' la Vida Loca

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN ARRIVES AT ALBUM RELEASE]

In May 1999, at the release of Ricky Martin's first English language album, crowds were so thick that the star had to be brought in by helicopter.

RICKY MARTIN ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: I'm presenting my album today for the first time. It's a very important date. I've been working for two and a half years for this day. And, uh, I am just really excited. Let's see what happens.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY WITH CROWDS AT ALBUM RELEASE]

TOMMY MOTTOLA (VO) Ricky had everything. Ricky had the looks, the sex appeal, the voice. (OC) He was an absolute seasoned performer.

[FOOTAGE: MONTAGE: RICKY MARTIN IN CONCERT: "OLE, OLE OLE"]

LEILA COBO (VO) He was incredibly charismatic. (OC) He was a great dancer, (VO)I have to say. He was very good looking.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN IN CONCERT: "OLE, OLE OLE"]

SERGIO GEORGE (VO) He had the right frame of mind, experience, the work ethic (OC) to take it to the next level, to take (VO) the punches and keep going.

[FOOTAGE: MENUDO MONTAGE]

A middle class boy from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin was already famous by the time he was fourteen, singing in Menudo, a teenage Latin boy band.

ROBI ROSA (VO) Everyday you had to school in the morning then you had to rehearse in the afternoon. It was intense. Just thousands of people everywhere — (OC) you know... girls hiding in bathrooms. We had to control the floors. (VO) It was absolutely nuts.

[STILLS: MONTAGE OF YOUNG RICKY MARTIN]

Transitioning out of his teen idol years, Ricky went to Mexico where he recorded two solo Spanish-language albums.

[STILL: RICKY MARTIN - IN "GENERAL HOSPITAL"]

He then tried his hand at acting, landing a role in the soap opera "General Hospital."

[STILL: RICKY MARTIN IN "LES MISERABLES"]

Then on to Broadway, where he played Marius, the romantic lead in "Les Miserables."

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN 'MARIA' MUSIC VIDEO]

Ultimately he would make his mark in music. One song, "María," exploded Ricky Martin worldwide in 1995.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN 'MARIA' MUSIC VIDEO]

On the heels of "María" came the offer of a lifetime.

RICKY MARTIN ARCHIVE INTERVIEW SONY Music Columbia, proposed the idea to record an English album. "Eh! Of course! We gotta do it."

TOMMY MOTTOLA (OC) He wanted to make the crossover in big way. [FOOTAGE: SONY BUILDING] (VO)And the company was running on all 12 cylinders at the time — with me at the top, (OC) pushing the button and making everyone, making an entire army move forward on the Ricky Martin front.

[STILL MONTAGE: RICKY MARTIN AND PRODUCERS]

RICKY MARTIN (ARCHIVE) (VO) I am working with amazing (OC) producers. I work with (VO) Desmond Child. I work with Emilio Estefan, Rob Rosa. It's like, it's like a dream team.

DESMOND CHILD (VO) When I met Ricky Martin, (OC) I didn't think of him as a Latin-pop-tropical

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN IN BLUE COAT]

(VO) you know hip-shaking dude. (OC) I thought of him as a rock star.

[STILLS MONTAGE: DESMOND CHILD AND BONGIOVI, DESMOND CHILD AND RICKY MARTIN]

A Miami boy of Cuban descent, Desmond Child had made a career in Rock and Roll, writing songs for Bon Jovi, Kiss, Aerosmith.

DESMOND CHILD (VO) Ricky Martin had the Latin thing covered. They really didn't need me for that. They needed me (OC) to help funnel that to the American and the European market.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA']

With Robi Rosa, Desmond Child would help write and produce the song that transformed Ricky Martin into a superstar.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA']

DESMOND CHILD She's into superstition, black cats and voodoo dolls. It's, it's just like a swing song. Tony Bennett could, could do that song.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

ROBI DRACO ROSA (OC) La Vida Loca is hybrid. It's like Spanglish. (VO) Brazilian in terms of rhythm-and with of course the Latin horns.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

DESMOND CHILD (OC) In Latin music at the time they would use a lot of reverb in the voice. (VO) And if you listen to the records I made with Ricky, (OC)the vocal is dry.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

(VO) They don't have any effects on them.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

They're right there in your face.... [FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

DESMOND CHILD There was another element too — Elvis in Vegas — all black. In a, in a kind of small setting that gave people (OC) an archetypal sense that that, that he was that thing that they had always loved.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

RICKY MARTIN "Come on!"

"...Unabashedly Pop..." wrote a Time magazine critic. "But ...saved by its Latin Soul."

ROBI DRACO ROSA (VO) I remember when we presented the song, Tommy Mottola was not really into "La Vida Loca." (OC) He said that it wasn't, the song wasn't a hit.

[FOOTAGE: RICKY MARTIN MUSIC VIDEO "LIVIN' LA VIDA LOCA"]

[FADE TO BLACK]

[FOOTAGE: FANS WAITING FOR RICKY MARTIN]

"Livin' La Vida Loca" debuted at number-one on the Billboard chart and stayed there for 10 weeks.

TOMMY MOTTOLA We couldn't even keep up with the orders. And I think we sold somewhere in the vicinity of 20 or 25 million worldwide.

[FOOTAGE: FANS WAITING FOR RICKY MARTIN]

LEILA COBO (VO)This is a historic moment. This is a real crossover. And almost immediately (OC) they began talking about other Latin acts that were going to come out with English-language albums. And you could see, maybe not a movement, but certainly a wave.

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