Johnny Pacheco, the Dominican-born musician considered as one of the fathers of salsa, died Monday at
the age of 85 in New Jersey, his family said.
Johnny Pacheco, was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer
of music stars such as Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, and Celia Cruz, “He was a visionary and his music will
live on eternally. The nine-time Grammy nominee died this week after being hospitalized for pneumonia,
according to Dominican Republic’s Diario Libre.
His wife is thought to have previously asked fans to pray for him. The late musician was a trailblazer
in the Salsa genre, leading the scene in New York in the 1960s and 1970s.
Pacheco was born in the Dominican Republic into a family of musicians. In 1940, he and his family moved
to New York City, where he taught himself to play accordion, violin, saxophone, and clarinet and studied
percussion at Juilliard. After founding Fania Records, Pacheco also created the Fania All-Stars, a music group
that featured the likes of Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe and El Conde Rodriguez.
He was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 2005 Latin Grammys, with three of his albums
also being nominated for Grammys.
Tributes have poured in on social media, with Colón writing: ‘RIP my dear friend and teacher.
Founder of Fania Records, Johnny Pacheco. Único.’ He was honoured with a lifetime achievement award
Fania Records added: ‘It is with profound sadness we share the news of the passing of Johnny Pacheco.
‘He was one of Fania’s founders and the man most responsible for the genre of Salsa music.
He was a visionary and his music will live on eternally.’ One fan wrote:
‘Rest in power to Johnny Pacheco, one of the progenitors of Salsa and
one of the pioneering artists who helped put music by Black Latinx artists, in collaboration with Celia,
out into the world on a global scale. His loss is a great one.’
Meanwhile, another added: ‘RIP salsa giant Johnny Pacheco, musician, composer, promoter and co-founder
of Fania all-stars. “Que cante mi gente”’. He is survived by his wife, Cuqui Pacheco, and four children.