It usually happens that when you tune in to Televisión Española, the chords of the theme Limón, lemon tree appear as part of the evocative content of the program Viaje al centro de la tele. Or that the contestants of the Pasapalabra space of Antena 3 have to guess a song that, heck, is also Limón, lemon tree.
These couple of examples allow us to have a notion of the impact that Henry Stephen caused when he decided to undertake a solo career, promoted by the legendary Renny Ottolina. The adventure bore juicy fruits.
That is why it is not gratuitous that the recent death of the Cabimero singer has been reviewed by the main newspapers of the Iberian country, namely: El País, El Mundo, ABC and La Razón, among other regional ones, qualifying him as "world famous" and "pioneer of rock in Venezuela ”.
The love story between Henry Stephen and Spain arose from an initiative of the aforementioned Ottolina. The powerful entertainer squared the participation of the Zuliano and Mirla Castellanos in the Montjui Festival, in which the tall dark haired man occupied the second position. And the proposal to stay in the country came up.
Some tales of the time assure that compliments rained down on him when he was walking through the Hispanic capital, where he lived for more than a year and that many young people even copied his look of a handkerchief tied to his leg. In addition, he was invited by the dictator Francisco Franco to visit La Moncloa. All backed by the success of Limón, a lemon tree that earned him a Gold Record from RCA Victor, by achieving the sale of one million copies. He was the first Venezuelan to obtain such a distinction.
At the end of 1969, the Madrid evening newspaper published the list of the best-selling singers of the year, in which Stephen ranked tenth above Raphael and The Tiger of Wales, Tom Jones. The information was highlighted by El Nacional in its edition of January 7, 1970.
The incredible thing about this story is related to the birth of the immortal song. In 2018, Mirla Castellanos told the author of these lines that she was meeting in the office of the president of Velvet de Venezuela, José Pagé, when producer Gumersindo Miranda came in saying that he was missing a song to close Henry's album.
Pagé opened his desk drawer and handed him the recording of Limón, a lemon tree that the vocalist had made in just an hour, as a joke, using several friends as backup singers. The executive commented that it was very bad, but it served as filler to reach the required dozen. Time, with its fondness for irony, said otherwise.
Henry Augustus Stephen Pierre was born on July 15, 1941 in Cabimas. Parents: Donald from Grenada and Zolia from Puerto Cabello, of Trinitarian descent. As a teenager he began his musical career with various groups before founding Los Impala. He died in 2021 from covid-19.
He is survived by his wife Rosalba Rivas-Rivas and their children Geraldine (in New York), John (in Norway), Fabiola and Donald (both in Maracaibo).