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Johnny Pacheco, the ‘Godfather of Salsa’, dies at 85

Oluwaseye Ogunsanya February 16, 2021 9

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Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping, Dominican singer and co-founder of Fania records better known as Johnny Pacheco, has passed away at the age of 85

The veteran singer regarded as one of the “fathers of salsa” was reported to have died at Holy Name Medical Center, New Jersey on Monday following complications arising from pneumonia.

Fania Records confirmed the news of his death in a statement on their Twitter page.

“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,” the statement read.

Tributes have continued to pour in for the late singer.

In a tribute on Facebook, Eddie Palmieri, his friend, wrote: “So sorry for the loss of my friend Johnny Pacheco, a true music legend. His legacy as a flautist and co-creator of Fania records will line on forever. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. Mat he rest in peace.”

Born on March 25, 1935, in the Dominican Republic into a family of musicians, Pacheco taught himself to play accordion, violin, saxophone and clarinet and studied percussion at Juilliard.

In 1954, he formed ‘The Chuchulecos Boys’ with Palmieri on piano, Barry Rogers on trombone and other musicians who are also renowned in the salsa scene, such as Al Santiago, Mike Collazo and Ray Santos.

He popularised the use of the term ‘Salsa’ and established the Fania All-Stars to showcase the leading artists of the genre.

Dubbed the ‘Godfather of Salsa,’ Pacheco received the Latin Recording Academy Music Excellence Award in 2005 and was nominated for multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys.

Pacheco is survived by Maria Elena Pacheco, his wife, and their four children.

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