Ricky Martin (b. December 24, 1971) was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As a child, he sang in the choir and performed in school plays. When he was six, he began acting in television commercials. Shortly aftereward, he took professional singing and acting lessons, which paved the way for his auditions for Menudo. In 1984, when he was 12 years old, he became a member of Menudo. For the next five years, he was the lead singer of the group, helping them become international sensations. Once he outgrew Menudo in 1989, he went back home to Puerto Rico, where he completed high school. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he simply relaxed for several months.
Following a few months of inactivity, he began to work his way back into the entertainment industry. He returned to Mexico, where he acted on stage for a year before returning to the music industry. In 1991, he released his self-titled debut album, which he co-wrote with his fellow Menudo alumnus Robi Rosa, who would become a regular collaborator over the course of Martin's career (often credited as Ian Blake). Ricky Martin became a sizable hit on the Latin charts. Two years later, he followed it with the Juan Carlos Calderon-produced Me Amaras, which was an even bigger hit, launching him to superstar status in Latin America.
In January 1994, he joined the cast of the soap opera General Hospital, playing Miguel Morez. His recurring role was so successful that it landed him a role on Broadway, where he played Marlo in Les Miserables. He left General Hospital to perform in the production and stayed with the play for about a year.
In 1995, he released his third album, A Medio Vivir, a record that had a harder rock edge, yet also featured such Latin styles as flamenco and cumbia. In early 1998, he released his fourth album, Vuelve. His first English pop album -- which happened to also be titled Ricky Martin -- was released in the spring of 1999; it made him an international superstar thanks to blockbuster singles including "Livin' la Vica Loca" and "She's All I Ever Had." A year later, Martin sizzled again with the release of Sound Loaded. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide