This Monday Cuqui Pacheco announced the news
Johnny Pacheco, one of the great Latin musicians, died this Monday, February 15 at the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey because of pneumonia, which he had already suffered for several days and for which he was hospitalized. Called one of the creators of salsa, Johnny left this world at 85 years of age, but his legacy will live forever not only in the hearts of Latinos, but also in the history of music.
A short statement was released by what is now his widow María Elena “Cuqui” Pacheco and the rest of his relatives:
“With great pain in my soul and an emptiness in my heart I inform you that the teacher Johnny Pacheco with much peace passed away this afternoon. Thank you so much for all the prayers from him and all the love you always gave him. At this time we ask for privacy and prayers. “
There were and still are many reactions around the departure of the founder of Fania. Salseros around the world have mourned the news and many musicians who in one way or another knew Johnny have expressed their sadness:
Rubén Blades published on his Facebook account: “I just received information indicating that Dominican Johnny Pacheco, flutist, arranger, composer and leader of the group “Las Estrellas de Fania”, has just moved “al otro barrio”. At 85 years of age, Pacheco leaves us an important musical legacy, represented by all the collaborations that he made during his distinguished career, with figures like Celia Cruz … To his family and loved ones we send our condolences . Have a good trip Johnny and “Simá!”
On his part, Marc Anthony took to Instagram to dedicate these words to him: “Teacher of Teachers and my good friend! Rest in peace! You were there for me from day 1. Your sense of humor was contagious and I am forever grateful for your support, for the opportunity to be in your presence and for your amazing legacy. “
Maelo Ruiz also left his words: “Today a giant left us ? We regret his physical disappearance! Thank you maestro Johnny Pacheco for everything you did for salsa, you left an insurmountable legacy for future generations! God receive you in heaven ? #QEPD #Rip #JohnnyPacheco #FaniaAllStars ”
Puerto Rican Victor Manuelle also used Instagram to remember Johnny: “Thank you teacher. I had the honor of honoring you in life. Your legacy will not die. Your music will live forever in our hearts. We are going to miss you, Master Pacheco. R.I.P.”
And another was El Caballero de la Salsa Gilberto Santa Rosa: “Today Salsa and music in general are in mourning. One of the pioneers, creative genius and in my personal case an exquisite person said goodbye … Rest in peace master Johnny Pacheco.”
And these are just an example of the many reactions that Latin musicians left when they heard the news. Johnny Pacheco definitely left his mark and a legacy that was difficult to emulate, but which gave the foundation to one of the most listened to genres in the world, of which Latin America is extremely proud.
The incredible career of Johnny Pacheco
Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping was born on March 25, 1935 in the city of Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. His father was Rafael Azarías Pacheco and thanks to him his love for music arises since he was a clarinetist and a famous conductor. On his part, his mother was Octavia Knipping Rochet, who brought Pacheco a mixture of cultures, since she was the granddaughter of a French colonizer and great-granddaughter of a German merchant who married a Dominican woman of Spanish family.
Johnny moved to New York with his family at the age of 11, where he continued his studies, especially music, managing to enter the prestigious Juilliard School to study percussion. In 1960 he founded his first band: Pacheco y su charanga, after working in several Latin bands. With this band Pacheco achieves success by signing with Alegre records, and presenting a dance rhythm which he called the pachanga, in this way he becomes a star touring the United States, Europe, Asia and of course Latin America.
La Fania first started out as a record label, with a partner who was not thought to be interested in Latin music Jerry Masucci, a former policeman who became a lawyer, but fell in love with this music on a trip he made to Cuba. This foundation occurred in 1964, between Harlem and the Bronx where the productions were sold from the trunks of their cars. But the Fania legacy was only taking its first steps by giving an urban touch to Latin music using the term salsa to sell its releases.
With Pacheco, Fania achieved a new rhythm based on the existing ones of Caribbean music, especially the Cuban son, but by putting a faster tempo. One of the things that stood out in Fania’s music was the lyrics, which were used to talk about somewhat sensitive issues, from racism to the political problems of the time, without neglecting pride in their Latino origins.
During the ‘60s and ‘70s, Fania had under its wing many singers who today are considered the best in Latin music and the promoters of the salsa genre: Héctor Lavoe, Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades to name a few, not counting the musicians who have been part of the band that accompanied the stars in their presentations. Practically the Fania All Stars became the school of many musicians.
Fania Records was called the Motown of salsa, becoming a music powerhouse, which led his band the Fania All Stars to tour around the world filling arenas and selling many records. Featuring never-before-seen collaborations such as Willie Colón, one of the best salsa composers, with Rubén Blades, a lyricist focused on the social part. Hector Lavoe was also a cult singer who made music history but whose career was very short and was marked by addiction problems which led to an early death at 46 years old.
During the ‘80s, Fania saw its end when facing many problems due to royalties and lawsuits, working with many artists was not easy and at that time there were many dark moments focused on addictions and monetary problems. In 2005 Fania returned to the spotlight as Emusica bought their catalog that was getting lost in a warehouse in Hudson, New York. Many hits were remastered and re-released in 2006.
Johnny Pacheco will always be remembered as the father of salsa, who with Fania managed to leave his mark on Latin music, rest in peace maestro.