Born on May 7, 1942, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Montañez's rich and powerful voice was an essential part of El Gran Combo's trademark sound and salsa legend. In 1977 Dimensión Latina, based in then oil wealthy Venezuela, made him a lucrative offer he could not refuse, and he joined them as a co-lead singer until 1980, when he left to go solo.
He released a string of albums during the 80s and in 1990. His 1983 Hoy Y Ayer (Today and Yesterday), contained a medley of El Gran Combo hits to mark their 20th anniversary. Mirroring El Gran Combo, Montañez uses a line-up that contains two trumpets, two saxophones and a trombone, plus a rhythm section (conga, bongo, timbales, cowbell, maracas, bass, piano) and coro (chorus).
The 1985 chart-topper, Andy Montañez, was one of his best. It contained the superb Catalino Curet Alonso composition "Genio y Figura". Ernesto Rivera wrote all the arrangements and Montañez's sons, Andy Jnr. and Harold, sang coro. The sons became members of Andy's band, led by flamboyant timbales player Don Perignon, whom backed him on the hit Mejor Acompañado Que Nunca (Better Accompanied Than Ever), 1986. This was another fine album and contained the outstanding Me Lo Estas Poniendo Dificil (You Are Making It Difficult For Me), arranged by Rivera. Andy and the band won awards in Colombia and Puerto Rico and made one more album together in 1988.
Andy Jr. and Harold began recording as a duo in 1987 with El Comienzo Del Camino, followed by Siguiendo El Camino in 1989. Both albums were produced by bandleader, trombonist, composer Julio "Gunda" Merced. Don Perignon went solo as a bandleader and debuted on La Buena Vida! in 1989. His trio of lead vocalists included Luisito Carrión, who previously worked with "Gunda' Merced"s Salsa Fever, La Terrifica, and Bobby Valentín.
In 1990, Carrión became a member of Sonora Ponceña. Andy became the centre of controversy in early 1989 when the Kiwanis Club, which organize Miami's Calle Ocho Festival, vetoed his appearance because he had visited Cuba in 1979 while still a member of Dimensión Latina. Paradoxically, he had been allowed to perform at the festival during the previous four years. Andy retorted that his political views were private, and added that he was not a communist. The same year, Montañez and El Gran Combo appeared on the same bill at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Montañez returned in 1990 with Todo Nuevo; recorded with some of Puerto Rico's finest session musicians. "Fantasma", arranged by trumpeter Tommy Villariny, was the first hit from the album. In the tradition of the 70s Puerto Rico All Stars albums, which Andy participated in, Don Perignon assembled a mini-galaxy of Puerto Rico's current stars under the banner of La Puertorriqueña for Festival De Soneros in 1990. Besides Montañez, other artists involved were: Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pedro Brull (from Mulenze), Luisito Carrión, Primi Cruz (from Willie Rosario's band), lead vocals were by Tony Vega, Alex D'Castro, coro; Mario Ortiz, trumpet; Humberto Ramírez, arranger, co-musical director and trumpet; Andy Guzmán, piano and arranger. Leading Puerto Rican composers Catalino Curet Alonso and Johnny Ortiz, were amongst those contributing songs. ~ Music of Puerto Rico