When he first started, Anthony Santos (now known as the top bachatero of the country) was part of his band, and together were among the first artists in the Bachata genre to use the electric guitar, something that changed the sound of bachata in the late 80’s. Started by Blas Duran in 1987, (who is credited by introducing multi-track recordings and electric guitar use in the music) the style that was developed and from then on followed by artists in the Northern Dominican frontier, gave new life to the bachata music that was at the point considered the poor mans music due to its simplicity.
The two developed a feud that was on and off, and spoken about both on stage by the artists, and later on the internet by the fans. Luis Vargas used this as a way to call attention to his music not unlike some of todays artists in the rap genre do, even making songs to make fun of his rival such as “El envidioso”, a song that became a major hit for Vargas. Antony Santos, would only take little jabs in his songs at Vargas, but in general was not known for fueling the problems between them.
In the documentary “Dominican Blues” (a film about the starts of Bachata), Luis is shown in a festival where he was crowned as the symbolic King, a moniker that he uses until this day “El Rey Supremo” (The supreme King). In this Documentary they also speak on the rumors of Luis Vargas demise, the response and love he got from the fans touched Luis so much he wrote a song about it, he speaks of what happened the night he had a car accident and that while the rumors of his death were wrong, he appreciated the love that his country gave him.
In Dominican Blues, he says to his switch of style that bachata is bachata, and it does not matter what you add to it, take away, how you mix it up, the music bachata can’t be changed from what it is. However, once his style switched, tracks like “El machetazo” and “El tomate” were seen as pilars to the changing sound of the genre. In 1989 the single “La traicionera” helped Vargas accomplish his first large-scale commercial hit with his album “La maravilla” (The wonder).
As the years went on, his rival Antony Santos, and by then Raulin Rodriguez as well as others had started to switch their styles, from sexually charged lyrics to more romantic toned music. This switch in focus was getting them success, as well as helped bachata transition from what was then known as “poor peoples music” or music for the lower class into music that everyone could be heard enjoying without fear of being judged. While Luis Vargas has kept some of his raunchy content in some of his songs since, he also trended towards the more romantic side of the genre and with this came his greatest commercial success to date, the semi-romantic tune “Loco de amor”, a bachata released in 1992.
Luis Vargas, while not as sought after now as he once was, is still considered one of the great bachata artists of Dominican Republic and continues to make new music and perform. His last CD (as of 2011) entitled “Urbano” was released in 2007. One of his sons (Luisito Vargas) also aspires to become a great Bachata singer and beloved by his country by following his fathers footsteps, will the torch will be passed on? Only time will tell.
Here is a Video of Luis Vargas “Soy Asi”