As music continues to be one of the biggest tools many of us are using to cope with the ongoing situation in our country, the loss of someone like dance music and marketing legend Orlando Puerta is that much more deeply felt. According to a statement released Monday (April 7) by his company Citrusonic, Puerta passed away in a Los Angeles hospital “after a short but severe battle with upper respiratory infection. At this time we are awaiting further details and the results of a COVID-19 test performed prior to his passing.”
Billboard detailed Puerta’s legendary and storied career, calling him a “lifelong dance music champion, hosting underground club night throughout Los Angeles in the early 1990s, as the city was becoming a nexus of the burgeoning U.S. scene. His events — which included Miss Kitty’s Candyland, Sunday School, Dish, Cha Cha Groove and more — helped break then up-and-coming talent including Mark Farina and Doc Martin. After a stint working in marketing and promotions for independent films, Puerta joined the marketing team at Warner Brothers Records in 1997. At Warner, he worked on campaigns for marquee artists including Madonna, Bette Midler, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Depeche Mode, New Order, Orgy, Static X, Michael Buble and Seal. One of the biggest successes of his career came through his work on the campaign for Cher’s “Believe,” a global smash that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999″.
When Maria Marquez Citrusonic’s Facebook page broke the news with a loving tribute by Maria herself, some of the biggest names in both the recording industry and world of nightlife expressed their condolences by sharing their best memories of Puerta on Facebook.
Longtime collaborator, Grammy winning DJ/Remixer Tracy Young spoke deeply of Puerta’s unyielding championing of women in the industry and his love of animals;
Event producer extraordinaire Jake Resnicow spoke of Puerta’s all-star roster of collaborations & how Puerta inspired the LGBT community to vote;
DJ Drew G spoke openly about how Puerta was a professional collaborator, but also a mentor and a father figure, one who helped shape his entire career;
DJ/Remixer Hector Fonseca spoke of how in an industry that sometimes ignores LGBT talent, Puerta consistently did the opposite;
Puerta’s work with Madonna can be considered some of his most commercially successful as well as some of the most prolific that he did. He worked on a number of the Material Girl’s albums including Music, Confessions on a Dancefloor, Hard Candy and Rebel Heart, serving as an intricate part of escalating a number songs and remixes to chart-topping positions around the world. Puerta continued working with Madonna even after leaving Warner Brothers in 2009, working with her on her most recent album, Madame X.
Madonna herself paid homage to Puerta, courtesy of her ongoing Instagram series of vides that she has titled appropriately, Quarantine Diaries. As she speaks about losing people during one particular day (a cousin and her security guard’s brother among them) she speaks of Puerta warmly. She states that Orlando was “a very important person who played a very important role in my life in terms of getting my remixes on the dance charts. Which was, in large part due to Orlando’s passion and commitment”.
Current and former members of Madonna’s team also spoke with Billboard, with Madonna’s longtime manager Guy Oseary saying “Orlando was part of our Madonna family,” “No one loved dance music more or worked harder or more joyously to promote it”. He went on to say “I spoke with him in February when Madonna reached her 50th #1 on the dance charts. He was so proud of Madonna. He was a force of nature who will be missed”.
“One of a kind. I have only the most joyful memories of Orlando,” says Liz Rosenberg, Cher’s longtime publicist who worked with Puerta during her long tenure at Warner Brothers and also served as Madonna’s publicist for decades. “No one I’d rather hang out with on or off the dance floor. A genius at what he did and the sweetest most beloved guy in the music business. Loved and adored by all. I’m honored to have known him.”
The words of legendary Academy Award nominated songwriter Diane Warren sum up how I am sure, every single person that Orlando Puerta touched during his life feels about him;
Maybe some good kind souls are just too good and kind for this cold heartless world. Rest in Power my dear sweet friend Orlando💔
— Diane Warren (@Diane_Warren) April 6, 2020