Puerto Rican native’s music store remains staple in Bronx community decades later
Record labels have disappeared, but the hip-swaying rhythms of salsa and merengue can still be found in a beloved music store that’s remained a fixture in the Bronx for decades.
Charlie Montoyo says people “go crazy” when they walk into the Casa Amadeo music store for the first time.
Montoyo still feels that way and he pays a visit every time he is in New York.
The Puerto Rican bench coach for the Chicago White Sox pops into the store in Longwood to not only sort through the volumes of salsa CDs, but also to catch up with the long-time owner, 89-year-old Miguel Amadeo.
“Sometimes I play maracas with him, and he plays the guitar, and he doesn’t do that for everybody,” Montoyo said. “So, it’s an honor for me that he lets me play with him.”
Amadeo has owned and managed this last-of-a-dying breed store since 1969.
Ten years ago, the New York City Council recognized his community service by renaming the corner of Prospect Avenue and Westchester Avenue as ‘Miguel Angel Amadeo Way.’
“This keeps me going, and as long as I can handle this store, I’ll be here,” Amadeo said.
In a world dominated by digital music sales, business certainly isn’t what it used to be, but that’s okay. Amadeo generates most of his income from royalties.
So many people come into the store and don’t realize that Amadeo is much more than just a small business owner. For decades he composed songs recorded by some of the biggest names in Latin music, like Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Tito Mieves.
Amadeo often hears from Spanish radio station DJs who call him for insight on a legendary musician or classic song.
“I got a request to play this and this, this song. ‘What’s the title?’ I don’t know the title, but it goes like this, ‘oh, okay.’ That was recorded by Virginia Lopez and it’s called ‘Tu Promesa de Amor’ and I wrote it,” Amadeo said.
The native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico is so widely known throughout the Latin music industry that artists bring their new material directly to him, and that’s how he maintains his inventory.
The record labels have disappeared, but the hip-swaying rhythms of salsa and merengue can still be found in a beloved Bronx music store.