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Salsa musician and co-founder of Fania Records was 85 – Deadline

Salsa music pioneer and co-founder of Fania Records, Johnny Pacheco, has passed away. Fania Records announced Pacheco’s death on Instagram on Monday afternoon. He was 85 years old.

“He was much more than a musician, conductor, writer, arranger and producer, he was a visionary,” the Instagram post read. “His music will live on forever and we are forever grateful to have been a part of his wonderful journey.”

According to Dominican Republic newspaper Diario Libre, Pacheco died after being hospitalized with pneumonia.

Pacheco teamed up with Jerry Masucci to found Fania Records in 1964. Since its inception, the label has helped propel like Celia Cruz, Larry Harlow, Ray Barretto, Bobby Valentin and more into stardom. The multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of Fania was also a nine-time Grammy nominee, racking up names for categories including Best Tropical Latin Performance and Best Latin Recording.

Scripted project Fania Records in the works of Sherry Marsh & Concord

The singer, known for a host of numbers including “Quimbara”, “Toro Mata” and “Mi Gente”, was born on March 25, 1935 in Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic. In 1946, Pacheco and his family moved to New York City, where he continued to cultivate his love for music, picking up a variety of instruments, including the flute and accordion.

In New York City, Pacheco began his professional career playing with Gil Suarez and collaborating with Eddie Palmeri, Barry Rogers, Al Santiago, Ray Santos and Mike Collazo to form the Chuchulecos Boys. Years after meeting other musicians, including Charlie Palmieri and Al Santiago from Alegre Records, Pacheco met Masucci to form Fania Records.

While at Fania, Pacheco recorded a live studio album featuring the label’s impressive roster of salsa musicians, soon to be known as Fania All-Stars.

In 1996, the former President of the Dominican Republic, Joaquin Balauger, awarded Pacheco the Presidential Medal of Honor. Nine years later, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences celebrated Pacheco by presenting him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

A number of films including The Mambo kings, a woman’s revenge and Born romantic presented a number of songs by Pacheco.

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