Johnny Pacheco, an idol in world of salsa and co-founder of Fania Records, the backers of many music stars, died on Monday at the age of 85.
Grammy Award-winning pianist Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate had been hospitalized for pneumonia for a few days in New York, according to his Facebook post written by his spouse, Maria Elena “Cuqui” Pacheco.
Friends and colleagues praised his career and personality.
He was “the man most responsible for the genre of salsa music. He was a visionary and his music will live on eternally,” tweeted Fania Records.
“Pacheco leaves us with an important music legacy, represented by all the collaborations he made during his distinguished career,” wrote Ruben Blades, one of the music stars that Pacheco back, on his social media.
Singer Marc Anthony mourned the passing of “a good friend and maestro of maestro” Pacheco. “Your sense of humor was contagious and I am forever grateful for your support, for the opportunity to be in your presence and for you amazing legacy,” Anthony wrote.
On March 25, 1935, Pacheco was born into a family of musicians in the Dominican Republic. In the 1940s, the family moved to New York, where he began his musical journey. Self-taught Pacheco successfully mastered accordion, violin, saxophone and clarinet, and studied percussion at Julliard.
Together with Palmieri on piano, Barry Rogers on trombone and other musicians who are now renown in the salsa world, such as Al Santiago, Mike Collazo and Ray Santos, Pacheco formed The Chuchulecos Boys in 1954.
In 1963, Pacheco founded Fania records with his partner, attorney Jerry Masucci, a huge milestone in his career.
Pacheco was the music director, composer, arranger and producer overseeing the label’s genre of music that is now known as salsa – a mixture of Cuban mambo, guaracha and chachachá, Puerto Rican rhythms and Dominican meringue.
Pacheco won many awards, among them was the Latin Recording Academy Music Excellence Award in 2005 and was nominated for multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys.
President and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy Gabriel Abaroa Jr. said “His music and legacy will endure forever and continue to inspire music creators around the world.”
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