Born Agustin Enrique Lara Olivencia on December 23, 1932, in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Lara was raised
by his maternal grandmother and received primary education in Santurce. During
his spare time, he taught himself to play the guitar. In 1942, when was only 10
years old, his grandmother realized that her grandson had musical talent and
took him to WNEL, the local radio station, where he made his debut. In 1946,
Lara enrolled at the Free School of Music in San Juan. There he continued his
guitar studies and learned to play the trumpet.
Trio los Lirios
In 1948, Lara and eleven fellow students created an ensemble with Lara as lead
singer. In 1949, Lara formed a trio called Trio los Lirios which became a
regular guest on the WKAQ radio station. They were paid 2 American dollars per
His Recording Debut
Lara enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico to study Liberal Arts and joined
the university's choir. In 1950, the owner of Mardí Records heard and was
impressed by Lara's singing and asked him to form a quartet including a female
voice. Lara did so, was signed by Mardí Records and dropped out of college in
1953 to travel with the quartet to New York City.
Lara also went solo in 1953 and scored a hit with a recording of the bolero
Sollozo ('Crying'), which he followed up with Orquidas, a Spanish version of
Orchids in the Moonlight by Vincent Youmans. That same year he met and married
Nilda Maria Canino with whom he was to have three children, Agustin Jr., Maria
and Jose Rafael. He returned to New York and performed at the Paramount Theater
where Myrta Silva introduced him as "El Pollo que Canta" (The Handsome
In 1955, Lara joined one of Puerto Rico's renowned quartets Los Hispanos and
made his television début with them and singers, Ida Claudio, and Sonia Noemí on
"El Show Ford", broadcasted by Telemundo, the television station owned and
operated by Angel Ramos. On January 11, 1965, the group began a seven-year
participation in the televised part of the Sultana Festival, a show produced by
Paquito Cordero. Lara and Los Hispanos travelled and performed in the United
States, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and Chile.
Lara enrolled in the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico and in 1970 earned his Bachelors degree, specializing in trumpet-playing. He formed a duo with Maria Esther Ortiz called Los Dos and also founded the Allegro 72 group, which, among others, included Luis Antonio Cosme. Lara performed with Allegro 72 at Carnegie
Hall, New York and at various television stations. Some members of Allegro 72
who went on to gain fame were Lunna, Angel "Cuco" Peña and Alice Garcia.
His Later years
Lara began to have problems with his health in 1978, suffering a stroke which
was complicated by his diabetes. In 1979, he underwent an open-heart surgery
procedure from which he recuperated and shortly after returned to Puerto Rico.
There he underwent conversion to Christianity and joined a Protestant church. He
was inactive in the music business for over six years.
In 1985, Lara participated in the Concierto de Navidad (Christmas Concert) held
at the Luis A. Ferré Center for the Performing Arts in San Juan. In 1986, he
held concerts in the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and at the Hostos
Center of Culture in the Bronx. That year he also recorded his last album, Los
Cuatro Aces (The Four Aces).
In March 1987, Lara suffered a massive heart attack and was sent to the West
Houston Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He died on June 23, 1987 and was laid
to rest in Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery in Old San Juan. Tito Lara
is considered by many to be Puerto Rico's first television singing idol.
The above biography was obtained from
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