Before Ricky Martin became the global superstar that he is today, he was one of 14 boys that were members of the iconic Puerto Rican boy band, Menudo who first premiered in 1977. The band originally launched with 5 members and through the years there were various members until the name was sold in 1997. A brand-new documentary about the band, one of the biggest boy bands in history, is set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, and shortly after, it will premiere exclusively on HBO Max. The four-part docuseries Menudo: Forever Young will chronicle the band’s sometimes sordid history set to land on the streamer on June 23, Deadline reported.
The tell-all documentary was co-directed by Kristofer Ríos of Havana Skate Days, and Ángel Manuel Soto, who is directing the upcoming film Blue Beetle, which will feature the first DC Films’ Latino superhero. The docu-series will offer insights into Menudo’s beginnings, it’s meteoric rise and attempts at a U.S. crossover, the drama and scandal, and its eventual demise.
“The Puerto Rican diaspora in New York played a critical role in the success of Menudo and its crossover in the US, shutting down traffic for blocks surrounding the band’s hotel and selling out Madison Square Garden on multiple occasions,” Soto said of the documentary’s Tribeca debut, according to Deadline.
Menudo was formed by music producer Edgardo Diaz in 1977, long before the likes of NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, or New Kids on the Block came on the scene. At the time, Diaz hoped to replicate the massive success of the Jackson 5. The band’s original lineup included Ricky Melendez, brothers Carlos and Oscar Meléndez, and brothers Fernando and Nefty Sallaberry who were between the ages of nine and 13
The band existed in many iterations including a new name, MDO, up until 2009, when they finally called it quits. Throughout the years, Menudo saw a slew of different members as the apparent goal was to keep them always appearing young and fresh-faced. Most were pre-teens and young teens, so once they reached about the age of 15 or 16, they were replaced, sometimes to the ire of diehard fans. Several of the band’s members including Draco Rosa, who was known as Robbi Rosa at the time, and Johnny Lozada, went on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry.
The mid-80s marked Menudo’s heyday, with Ricky Martin earning his place in 1984, after auditioning three times. But scandal rocked the band not long after, marking its ultimate downfall. In 1991, the first allegations of sexual abuse by Diaz, who had served as the band’s manager, were made, permanently tarnishing Menudo’s reputation. They managed to hang on in some form for nearly two decades afterward, though they never quite reached the same level of success as in the early years. Despite not being active in over a decade, Menudo still has a strong fan base, and has had success with reunion shows and even tours throughout the years.
Menudo: Forever Young premieres on HBO Max June 23.