Willie Colon

Willie Colón is one of salsa's undisputed heavyweights. Over the course of his illustrious 32-year career, he has sold more than 30 million copies of his records and taken part in some 40 productions. Those include credits as a singer, songwriter, trombonist, and producer. And if math isn't your strong suit, that adds up to one bona fide badass in a genre where an early demise was a frequent outcome of said superstardom.

Not ironically, his performance in Miami this Friday serves as a tribute to one of those tragically lost salseros. Colón's Tributo al Cantante concert pays homage to the late, great Héctor Lavoe, who was known for salsa jams such as "Que Cante Mi Gente" and died of AIDS in 1993. (Last year, Lavoe was also memorialized in the Marc Anthony-Jennifer Lopez film vehicle, El Cantante.) It's fitting, for Lavoe and Colón were longtime friends — in fact, Lavoe's first steady gig came in 1967 when he joined Colón's band. It was during this time, however, when Lavoe became addicted to drugs, eventually causing his dismissal from the group for his erratic and often unreliable behavior. Still, the friendship survived, and Colón's tribute will no doubt be heartfelt.