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LA-based dance music executive Orlando Puerta passes away at 55

Longtime music executive and events promoter Orlando Puerta passed away Saturday morning at 3:40 AM after a short but severe battle with upper respiratory infection. His friends and family are awaiting further details and the results of a COVID-19 test performed prior to his passing. He was 55 years old. 

Puerta, who was beloved in the dance music scene and beyond, was the founder of Citrusonic Los Angeles, a boutique promotion and marketing company. In announcing his passing, Citrusonic posted the following letter to their Facebook page: 

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that we tearfully announce the passing of our founder, leader and dear friend Orlando Puerta.

Orlando passed peacefully in hospital Saturday morning at 3:40 AM after a short but severe battle with upper respiratory infection. At this time we are awaiting further details and the results of a COVID-19 test performed prior to his passing.

We understand that Orlando has touched us all in different but similar ways and we grieve with you. We are saddened that due to quarantine efforts in our region we will not be able to conduct a funeral or burial at this time. We will keep you informed of updates.

Orlando was a champion of Dance Music, of free thought and a lover of life, music and animals. We will continue his legacy at Citrusonic by carrying forward his initiatives for all of our beloved clients, dj's, musicians, remixers and fans. Likewise, we have established a donation link where friends and family can benefit animals in leu of flowers and cards. We appreciate you.

Anyone who would like to discuss Citrusonic business matters is encouraged to reach out to promo@citrusonic.net. Our leadership is intact, our business is strong, and we will carry on in memory of Orlando's epic multi-decade career in Music. More to follow.

With love and prayer,

Citrusonic

Puerta was known as a force in the music industry long before starting his company in Los Angeles. According to his bio on Citrusonic’s webpage, Puerta's career began in 1991. Following his undying passion for music, Puerta was known as “the” underground club promoter from 1991 to 1996 in LA.

He threw legendary one offs and weekly parties including Citrusonic, Miss Kitty’s Candyland, Sunday School, Dish, Cha Cha Groove, Milk, Sessions, Mothership, More, Ultra Afterhours,Deep Space, The Wig Ball Part 1 & 2, and The Legends Of Warhol Ball. The bio also noted that it was Puerta who introduced many now legendary DJs to the LA scene including Doc Martin, Barry Weaver, Steve Loria, Mark Farina, Derrick Carter, Johnny Vicious, and Fabian Vangeli.

In 1997, he was approached by Warner Bros Records to non-traditionally market 3 new up and coming artists: Gus Gus, Moloko, and Rockers Hifi. The label was so impressed with his skills, they offered him a position in the marketing department, eventually being promoted to Director of Dance & Lifestyle Marketing and reigned for 8 years as the “Czar of dance music and remixes.”

He left Warner Brothers in 2009 to create Citrusonic and his first client was the now famous Erika Jayne. Puerta launched Jayne on to the club scene with her #1 Billboard Club Songs Record – Roller Coaster. From there, Citrusonic continued to grow.

According to Billboard, Puerta most recently worked on the marketing for Madonna's 2019 album, Madame X, helping her achieve a landmark 50th No. 1 single on Billboard' Dance/Club Songs chart with "I Don't Seek I Find." Puerta also worked on promotion for Tracy Young's remix of Madonna's "I Rise," which won a 2020 Grammy for best remixed recording.

News of Puerta’s deaths sent waves through many in the community who posted emotional remembrances on social media.

San Diego Pride wrote:

“Orlando Puerta played a crucial role in securing major artists for San Diego Pride. He was part of our pride family and he will be deeply missed.”

Popular DJ Roland Belmares wrote:

“Well it was said we would start losing more people in the weeks to come and already we have lost a legend. Today Orlando's extended family at his record promotion company Citrosonic announced he had passed from complications of Covid19. Anyone in Billboard or Dance Music knew his love of the Dance Music Scene (especially his muse Madonna) and his joy at promoting it! His passing is truly a loss in our industry and he will be dearly missed. My heart goes out to his family and his extended family at Citrosonic during this already hard time. Make sure you reach out to those on your mind as tomorrow is never guaranteed. Much love, light & strength to those who knew him! May you rest in peace Orlando Puerta!"

DJ Ryan Skyy:

“I can't believe Orlando Puerta is gone.

He was such a gentle soul, and kind heart and was the first to believe in me. He gave me my first official remixes, Gaga and Paris, and most recently Madonna (one I never announced).

I'll always cherish our phone calls and lunches.

This hits way too close to home. Man this sucks. He was such a sweet guy and dear friend.”

Gardenia Partidge, Entertainment Director at San Diego Pride:

“I don't know where to start with this post and have a broken heart right now. Orlando Puerta was a true icon to the music industry and will truly be missed. I had the opportunity to work with Orlando-Citrusonic throughout the years at San Diego Pride Festival. Orlando assisted bringing several top artists (headliners) to perform at SD Pride Festival such as Ruby Rose, Laverne Cox, Crystal Waters, Ultra Nate, Taryn Manning, RILAN, Mike Taylor, and Drew G. His passion for the music industry and artists was incredible. My deepest condolences to Citrusonic family and everyone touched by this angel.”

A memorial fund has been set up in Puerta's honor, those who wish to contribute can click here.