On May 17, 1948, Alejo Veliz Pacheco was born in Las González, Miranda State.
Under the musical influence of his father, an outstanding Afro-Venezuelan drummer, his debut as a professional took place in 1973, when he became the lead vocalist of the Renovación, after the departure of Orlando Castillo “Watussi” to the orchestra of Porfi Jiménez.
An advanced group, which emerged on February 6, 1973, under the musical influence of Harlow y la Perfecta, became the ideal competition to the “Galician” Dimensión Latina.
Under the direction of tumbador Nico Monterola, La Renovación, despite not having much luck, presented in its ranks timbalero Alfredo Cutuflá, (great Venezuelan timbalero, with a brilliant career in France), then Cheo Navarro (Director of Bailatino), the future trombonists of Oscar D’ León, the Piñango brothers: Nené and Taito.
This is the first recording for the album of La Renovación, one of the best Venezuelan salsa groups of the 70s. La Renovación since its foundation had in its ranks a select group of musicians that in the future would make a brilliant career in our salsa, needless to say that this group in its different stages has always tried to maintain a very fat and hard sound in the style of the good bands of New York”.
This LP gathers many good songs but there is one in particular that I like very much and it is “Guaguancó a Barlovento”, authored by Orlando Watussi, who was also founder of this group, but he left before the recording of this first album.
Rafael García on bass, Félix Suárez “Shakaito” (future director of the Bronko), Hungria Rojas (later Oscar D’ León’s bongos player) and the vocalization of Leo Pacheco, who recorded with them, (5) Cinco Producciones: Echa Pa’ lante (1974); Llegó la Renovación (1975); Pare Cochero (1975); Lo máximo es Renovación (1976) and A todo el mundo le gusta (1976).
Due to some problems he left La Renovación and went on tour to Colombia with Nelson Henríquez, commitments that prevented him from joining the newly formed orchestra of Oscar D’ León, who observed in Leo his great conditions to do the chorus and second voice, (as a substitute for the work done by Wladimir Lozano in Dimensión Latina), and in a nightclub, Oscar told him: “Leo was looking for you, because the two of us, for whatever comes out …”, “here there is nothing else…”, “here we are going to bust everybody…”.
In fact, after Rodrigo Mendoza’s departure in March 1977, the band replaced him thanks to Leo Pacheco’s very special timbre to do the chorus and second voice, with some songs that served as witnesses, such as the unforgettable: Juramento, Fuego de Amor, Capullito de Azucena, Cruel Desilusión (Con la Crítica de Oscar), among others.
The last days of May 1977, the breakup of Oscar D’ León’s Salsa Mayor is announced, where the bassist-singer in record time reassembles his orchestra dismantling the Renovación itself, while Leo Pacheco, together with the timbalero Alfredo Padilla, Henry Camba, William Puchi, Miguel Pacheco, José “Pipo” Pérez form: “Nuestra Orquesta La Salsa Mayor”, with whom he recorded three anthological albums: De frente y luchando (1978); Strong & Hots (1979); Sello de garantía (1979).
He continued his musical activity in the following years with La Crítica, Combo Venezuela and other groups.
“There was a lot of history left to tell, impossible to tell in this opportunity for reasons of space, although we hope it will be the beginning of a series of works on Venezuelan Salsa, which unfortunately we begin with the sad news of the death of Leo Pacheco, who left us with the fullness of his vocal cords and strength, which impressed the doctors on the day of his death when he resisted 8 hours with a heart attack while driving home in Ocumare del Tuy in his native Miranda state”.
For July 2023 the Lutier, Percussionist and friend Maestro Nico Monterola made a well-deserved tribute with a single titled:
“Tribute to Leo Pacheco”.
Sonero of the neighborhood and beloved example of father and friend.