For a while, they were the ultimate boy band.
Now, says former member Jonathan Montenegro, “We’re a man band!”
We’re talking Menudo, the adorable, zany boys from Puerto Rico who burst into existence in 1977 and became a global social phenomena by the mid 1980s. With a rotating cast of members that left the group the minute they hit puberty, Menudo captured the imagination of millions of girls around the world and the concept managed to last well over two decades.
Now, 13 of the more than 30 members of the group through the years have come together for a “Menudomania Forever” tour. Billboard gathered seven of our favorite Menudos — René Farrait, Miguel Cancel, Charlie Massó, Ray Reyes, Robert Avellanet, Rawy Torres and Jonathan Montenegro — and asked them everything about their Menudo experience.
The guys, now mostly in their 40s, laughed, cried and even sang for us (you won’t believe how good they sound!).
“We act like kids. We have a blast” onstage says ringleader Charlie Massó. “And we look at the fans and we see them as kids as well.”
“That’s the magic of the show,” says Rene Farrait. “Being able to be 13, 14, 15 again? That’s priceless. Feeling what you felt at 14, that’s priceless.”
Not everything was fun and games, say the guys. While Menudo sold millions of albums, they made little money, and their contracts, they admit now, could have been much better negotiated.
And of course, says Farrait, “If you changed physically…you were out. It was a group for children.”
There were life-changing moments, like playing for 20,000 people in El Salvador when the country was in the midst of a civil war.
“For two hours,” said Rawy, everyone stopped fighting.
Most important, perhaps, was learning the value of friendship and professionalism, because whether sick or bummed out, even the youngest Menudo had to square his shoulders and hit the stage when the time came to perform.
“This phrase, the show must go on, we really learned the meaning of it,” says Ray.
Watch Billboard’s exclusive roundtable video above with the former Menudo members who’ve come back together for the “Menudiomania Forever” tour.