Tony Moreno, the veteran record executive who founded MP records and worked with some of the biggest names in tropical music has died. Moreno succumbed to complications of liver cancer on Nov. 14 at the University of Miami Hospital in Miami. He was 66.
Throughout his more than four decades in the music industry, Moreno became a defining figure in the genre and a passionate advocate of the music. He was convinced of its potential even during the biggest downturns in the market.
A big man with a big voice and a hearty laugh, Moreno was an immediately recognizable figure who could speak with intimate knowledge about tropical music. And he worked closely with a broad variety of acts, from Venezuela's Oscar D'León and José Luis Rodríguez "El Puma" to Puerto Rico's Eddie Santiago and Tito Rojas.
"He was a visionary within tropical music," said Eddie Fernandez, senior VP of Universal Music Publishing Group Latin America. "He discovered and developed great salsa acts with his tireless passion for the genre. Without a doubt, we need more like him."
Born in Cuba, Moreno moved to the United States and began working at indie Velvet Records when he was 22 years old. He moved up the ranks and later headed indie labels TH Records and Sonotone Records before starting his own record company, MP (Musical Productions). With salsa and merengue on the upswing in the early 1990s, MP grew to become an important independent label whose roster included Tito Gómez, Tito Rojas, Anthony Cruz, Puerto Rican Power and Eddie Santiago.
In the late 2000s, Moreno sold his company to another indie, J&N Records, and stayed in the company as VP.
"He was like a brother to me," said J&N owner Juan Hidalgo, who notes that the MP album catalog comprised over some 30 artists and more than 200 titles. "He was truly a great influence on the music. Danny Rivera, Tito Rojas, Oscar D'León, all those artists went through Tony's hand and he promoted them in the U.S."
Most important, says Hidalgo, echoing what many in the industry said, "He was really a great human being. An honest guy, sincere, a good friend."
Moreno is survived by his wife, Julia, and his four children with his first wife, Melba, including singer/songwriter Jorge Moreno.
Funeral services for Moreno will take place Nov. 17 at Vista Memorial Gardens in Miami, following a 10 a.m. mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Miami. Viewing will take place at Memorial Plan Funeral Home on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.