The Latin music world is mourning the death of salsa legend Johnny Pacheco, who died at New Jersey’s Holy Name Medical Center on Monday. Sources say he had been hospitalized for complications stemming from pneumonia. Pacheco was 85.
Pacheco — a Dominican-born and New York-raised bandleader, arranger, composer and producer — co-founded Fania Records in the 1960s with lawyer Jerry Masucci. Home to artists such as Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz, to name a few, the label helped propel the Latin big band, Afro-Cuban jazz, boogaloo and salsa movements.
“What I most remember about Pacheco is his enthusiasm, his happiness,” José Alberto “El Canario” tells Billboard. “He always said that when he died, his tombstone would read: ‘Here lies Johnny Pacheco, against his will.’”
In 2004, Pacheco received the ASCAP Silver Pen Award, and in 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
“Johnny left us a very important musical legacy represented by all the significant collaborations he recorded throughout his career with Celia Cruz and Pete ‘El Conde’ Rodríguez,” Panamanian artist Ruben Blades wrote on social media. “He was admired by millions of salseros and he was respected by his colleagues.”
Below, Billboard compiled 10 timeless albums by Pachecho, including his debut album under Fania, Cañonazo, and his Latin Grammy-nominated sets Eternos, Cross Over, De Nuevo and Salsobita.
Las Charangas (Johnny Pacheco, Jose Fajardo, Charlie Palmieri), 1961
Pacheco, His Flute and Latin Jam, 1965
Los Compadres (Johnny Pacheco, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez), 1971
Celia & Johnny (Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz), 1974
Eternos (Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz), 1978
Cross Over (Fania All-Stars), 1979
Celia, Johnny, and Pete, 1980
De Nuevo (Johnny, Celia Cruz), 1985
Salsobita (Johnny Pacheco, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez), 1987