TEANECK, NJ (CelebrityAccess) — Johnny Pacheco, the Dominican musician who co-founded Fania Records, and who helped bring the Salsa sound to the world at large, died on Monday. He was 65.
His passing was announced by his wife Maria Elena “Cuqui” Pacheco, who in a Facebook post, wrote: With great pain in my soul and a void in my heart I inform you that teacher Johnny Pacheco with much peace passed away this afternoon. Thank you for all your prayers and all the love you always gave her (sic). Right now we ask for privacy and prayers.”
A cause of death was not disclosed but Pacheco was admitted to the hospital last week due to pneumonia.
Fania Records, the label Pacheco co-founded with Jerry Masucci, also announced his passing.
“It is with profound sadness we share the news of the passing of Johnny Pacheco today at 85 years old, he was one of Fania’s founders and the man most responsible for the genre of Salsa music. Born in Santiago, RD and later moving to NY as a child he was much more than a musician, bandleader, writer, arranger and producer, he was a visionary. His music will live on eternally and we are forever grateful to have been a part of his wonderful journey.”
Born Juan Pablo Pacheco Knipping in the Dominican Republic in 1935, Pacheco came from a musical family. His father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, was a clarinetist and bandleader who guided one of the Orquesta Santa Cecilia, one of the Dominican Republic’s leading big bands of the era.
When he was eleven Pacheco, along with his family, relocated to New York where he studied electrical engineering at Brooklyn Technical High School and later music at Julliard.
In 1953, Pacheco teamed up with Eddie Palmieri, Barry Rogers, Al Santiago, Mike Collazo and Ray Santos to form The Chuchulecos Boys, helping to launch the musical movement that would later coalesce into the Salsa scene.
A decade later, Fania partnered with attorney Jerry Masucci to launch Fania Records, which served as a launch platform for some of the most influential Latin artists in history, including Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Bobby Valentín, Rubén Blades, Larry Harlow, and Ray Barretto, among numerous others.
Pacheco was the music director, composer, arranger and producer and helped to shape the label’s distinctive sound that would become known as Salsa.
Over the course of his career, Pacheco earned nine Grammy nominations and multiple Latin Grammys nominations, and recieved the Latin Recording Academy Music Excellence Award in 2005.
“His music and legacy will endure forever and continue to inspire music creators around the world,” Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, said in a statement.
Pacheco is survived by his wife, Elena, and their four children.