Bataan Nitollano was born in 1942, and grew up in Spanish Harlem, New York. In that time this Afro-Filipino hustled the streets, got caught up with the law, and did five years behind bars.
When he came back out, he needed to find something new to survive. Stealing coats and cars wasn’t going to cut it. According to Bataan to make it in the world as a man of color, you could either be an athlete, or an entertainer–standing at 5-foot-9 Bataan wasn’t going to get into basketball anytime soon. So, Bataan put himself to work after those five years of learning music behind bars. Starting up by singing in hallways and gathering members for a band, Joe began a long love affair with music.
It was a gig where a business man misread a note to call either “Joe, Bataan,” the businessman went asking for Joe Bataan instead, and the new name gave Bataan a new lease on life, he says.
Joe continues an illustrious career as the King of Latin Soul, has built and exited record labels, and has reinvented himself in his “twilight” years.
APEX contributor catches up with Joe Bataan at the Bayanihan Center last week, and just talks about being that “Ordinary Guy.”