Joe Bataan  

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I'm just an ordinary guy
Afro-Filipino average sort of guy
That's what I am, ordinary man
You left behind

--"Ordinary Guy" (1973) by Joe Bataan

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Joe Bataan (also spelled Bataán) (born 1942 in Spanish Harlem, New York City) is an Afro-Filipino American Latin R&B musician from New York. He was born Bataan Nitollano and grew up in the 103rd and Lexington part of East Harlem where he briefly lead the Dragons, a local Puerto Rican street gang before being sent to the Coxsackie Correctional Facility to serve time for a stolen car charge.

Upon his release in 1965, he turned his attention to music and formed his first band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers. Bataan was influenced by two musical styles: the Latin boogaloo and African American doo-wop. Though Bataan was neither the first nor only artist to combine doo-wop-style singing with Latin rhythms, his talent for it drew the attention of Fania Records. After signing with them in 1966, Bataan released "Gypsy Woman," in 1967 (the title track is a Latin dance cover of "Gypsy Woman" by The Impressions.) He would, in full, release eight original titles for Fania which included the gold-selling "Riot!". These Fania albums often mixed energetic Latin dance songs, sung in Spanish, with slower, English-language soul ballads sung by Bataan himself. As a vocalist, Bataan's fame in the Latin music scene at the time was only rivaled by Ralfi Pagan and Harvey Averne.

Disagreements over money with Fania head Jerry Masucci lead Bataan to eventually leave the label. While still signed to Fania however, Bataan secretly started Ghetto Records, a Latin music label which got its initial funding from a local Harlem drug dealer, George Febo. Bataan produced several albums for other artists on the imprint, including Papo Felix, Paul Ortiz and Eddie Lebron.

In 1973, he helped coin the phrase "salsoul," lending its name to his first post-Fania album. Along with the Cayre brothers, he co-founded Salsoul label, though later sold out his interest. He recorded three albums for Salsoul and several singles, including "Rap-O Clap-O," from 1979 which became an early hip hop hit. After his 1981 album, "Bataan II," he retired from music-making to spend more time with his family and ended up working as a youth counselor in one of the reformatories he himself had spent time in as a teenager. In 2005, Bataan broke his long hiatus with the release of "Call My Name," a well-received album recorded for Spain's Vampisoul label.

Bataan is also the father of Asia Nitollano, winner of the Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll

In the 2006 game Driver: Parallel Lines by Atari, Joe Bataan's song Subway Joe was included in the soundtrack.


  • 1967 Gypsy Woman (Fania)
  • 1968 Subway Joe (Fania)
  • 1968 Riot! (Fania)
  • 1969 Poor Boy (Fania)
  • 1970 Singin' Some Soul (Fania)
  • 1971 Mr. New York & The East Side Kids (Fania)
  • 1972 Sweet Soul (Fania)
  • 1972 Saint Latin's Day Massacre (Fania)
  • 1972 Live From San Frantasia (unreleased, Fania)
  • 1973 Salsoul (Mericana)
  • 1975 Afro-Filipino (Salsoul)
  • 1980 Mestizo (Salsoul)
  • 1981 II (Salsoul)
  • 1997 Last Album, Last Song (Bataan Music)
  • 2005 Call My Name (Vampisoul)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joe Bataan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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