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Rhythm of the Stars
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Tito Puente Tribute

Little Johnny Rivero

Little Johnny was born in New York City in 1957, to Puerto Rican parents. As a young boy, Little Johnny was drawn to the sounds and rhythms of the conga players from Jefferson Park and Randall's Island Park. Little Johnny began practicing percussion at age ten and played in the school band. Soon after, he took dance lessons and performed on stage with the best bands of the era at such famous venues as The Manhattan Center, The Colgate Garden and The Copacabana.

At age fourteen, Little Johnny joined Orchestra Colon, the youngest Latin band in New York City, and recorded two albums with them. In 1973, he moved to Puerto Rico with his parents, and joined La Sonora Poncena in 1974. After playing bongos with them for a year and a half, he switched to congas, which rekindled the love affair he had begun with the instrument as a small child. Little Johnny attributes the rhythms and professional conduct he learned from Quique Lucca and his son Papo Lucca, at this time, as the qualities that have made him what he is today. During the sixteen years Little Johnny played with Sonora Poncena, he traveled the world and made sixteen highly respected Latin albums with them.

Little Johnny's other credits include work with Bobby Valentin, Celia Cruz, Charlie Palmieri, Dave Valentin, Tito Puente, Lucecita Benitez and numerous other artists. He also performed in Europe with the RMM All-Stars Band, directed by Sergio George, and recorded with such producers as Cuto Soto, Ramon Sanchez, Cuco Pena and many others. In May 1997, Little Johnny shared the stage with his inspiration and idol, Jose Mangual.

Little Johnny is currently teaching percussion at John F. Kennedy High School in Bronx, NY. When not teaching, he is recording with the top artists in the greater NY Metro area. Little Johnny is currently working with the Bebo Valdes Cuban Big Orchestra.