When Ricky Martin crossed over to English language audiences in 1999, he seemed to come out of nowhere. But this former member of boyband ‘Menudo’ had been a Latin Pop star for most of the 1990s.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ricky sang in a choir and performed in school plays. By the time he was six he was already appearing in television commercials.
In 1984, he became a member of Menudo and for the next five years, as lead singer of the group, became a teenage sensation.
Having outgrown his boyband roots in 1989, he went back home to Puerto Rico and completed high school, before moving to New York. However, after enjoying the sights and sounds of New York he was forced to move to Mexico to kick-start an acting career on the stage.
In 1991, he released his self-titled debut album which went on to become a hit in the Latin charts. The album ‘Me Amaras’ in 1993 was an even bigger hit, launching him to superstar status in Latin America.
In 1994, he joined the cast of the US soap opera General Hospital, playing Miguel Morez, staying with the show for four years. With his profile as an actor now raised he landed a role on Broadway in the musical ‘Les Miserables’.
However, it was after his performance at the Grammys in 1999 singing ‘Livin La Viva Loca’ that Ricky became a household name across the world, going on to sell 70 million albums worldwide.
His first English pop album, also titled ‘Ricky Martin’, was released in 1999 and spawned the monster hits ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’, ‘She’s All I Ever Had’ and ‘Shake Your Bon Bon’. A year later, he capitalised on his new found superstar status and released ‘Sound Loaded’, which included the curiously titled hit, ‘She Bangs’.
Having topped the charts in nearly every country, won Grammys and numerous music awards, Ricky suddenly decided to take nearly five years out of the limelight. He released the Spanish album ‘Almas del Silencio’ in 2003 and created the ‘Ricky Martin Foundation’. Among many of the foundation’s projects was the donation of a million dollars worth of musical instruments to Puerto Rican public schools.
2005 saw Ricky’s return to music with the album ‘Life’ and he embarked on a world tour in 2006 which million are expected to have attend.
After this time spent travelling the globe, Martin released a greatest hits album in 2008, titled ‘Ricky Martin 17’.
Tired of his vida loca, Martin took a break from performing to write his autobiography, ‘Me’, published on 2 November 2010 and the book quickly became a New York Times best seller.
Earlier that year on 29 March 2010 Martin had revealed that he was in fact homosexual and broke the news to his fans on his website with the message: “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.”
The identity of his partner remains unknown as the singer said he wanted to shield him from the limelight.
Martin has also become the father of two boys in recent years, with twins Matteo and Valentino born by a surrogate mother in August 2008.
Back in the world of work, the singer will release his 12th studio album in February 2011, 20 years after he launched his solo career with his first record.
The album will be a mix of English and Spanish songs and is called ‘Musica+Alma+Sexo’, or ‘Music+Soul+Sex’ in English.
Ever the versatile performer, Ricky Martin is said to be appearing as Ché in the Broadway reworking of ‘Evita’, set to open in spring 2012.