Salsa pioneer and icon Johnny Pacheco died February 15, 2021 in Teaneck, New Jersey at the age of 85. His wife had reported via Facebook that Pacheco had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Co-founder of Fania Records, he backed fellow Latin music artists Ruben Blades, Willie Coln, and Celia Cruz. He was also a bandmate with Eddie Palmieri.

He received the Music Excellence Award in f2005 from the Latin Recording Academy and was presented with the Silver Pen Award by ASCAP in 2004.

His music has been herd on the documentary “Salsa”, “A Woman’s Revenge”, “Fires Within”, “The Mambo Kings”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Born Romantic”, “El cantante”, the video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories”, the documentary “Soul Power”, an episode of “Dancing with the Stars”, two episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance”, and “Like a Boss. Pacheco also appeared in an uncredited role as the Conductor of the Carorrojeno Orchestra in “Badge 373”.

Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping was born March 25, 1935 in the Dominican Republic to a musical family. While Juan was still a child, his family immigrated to New York City. It is there that he taught himself to play the accordion, violin, saxophone, and clarinet. He picked up percussion while at the Julliard School of Music.

Still in his teens, Pacheco formed The Chuchulecos Boys.

He joined forces with attorney Jerry Masucci in 1963 to create Fania Records where he was the music director, composer, arranger, and producer. The label often known as the “Latin Motown” last for some 20 years.

He is survived by his wife Maria Elena “Cuqui” and four children – Norma, Joanne, Elis, and Phillip.

Johnny Pacheco discography:
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”
“Que Suene la Flauta”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”, Vol. 3: Que Suene la Flauta”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga”, Vol. 4: Suav’ito”
“Chen Chere, El Suavesito, Recuerdo de Arcano”

“Las Charangas”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga, Vol. 5: Spotlight on Pacheco”
Mi Nuevo Tumbao….Canonazo”
“Pacheco at the N.Y. World’s Fair”
“Que Suene La Flauta, Vol. 3”
“Hit Flute and Latin Jam”
“Te Invita a Bailar”
“By Popular Demand: Por Demanda Popular”
“Viva Africa”
“Para Gozar Belen”
“Esencia del Guaguanco”
“Pacheco Presenta a Monguito”
“La Perfecta Combinacion”
“Los Compadres”
“Mango, Pina y Maranon”
“Volando Bajito”
“Tres de Cafe y Dos de Azucar”
“Viralo Al Reves”
“Celia & Johnny”
“El Maestro”
“Tremendo Cache”
“Recordando el Ayer”
“Esa Prieta”
“Llego Melon”
“The Artist”
“Los Dos Mosqueteros”
“Los Distinguidos”
“Los Amigos”
“Los Dinamicos”
“Le Crema”
“Las Tres Flautas: Javier y Su Charanga”
“La Crema”
“El Zorro de Plata y el Flaco de Oro”
“De Pelicula” (Musica Latina)
“Fajardo y Pacheco”
“De Nuevo Los Compadres”
“Pacheco y Su Charanga, Vol. 2”
“Latin Piper”
“Once Upon a Time”
“Sabor Tipico”
“Flying High”
“Johnny Pacheco”
“Early Rhythms”
“Entre Amigos”
“Los Dos Mosqueteros”
“Descargando con los Tres Grandes”
“Fania Classics: Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco”
“Los Amigos”

feature photo credit: By Hykso623 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,