Johnny Pacheco, Who Helped Bring Salsa to the World, Dies at 85

Written by on February 16, 2021

Johnny Pacheco performing in Manhattan in 2009. His company, Fania Records, was a powerhouse in Latin music. 
Chad Batka for The New York Times

Johnny Pacheco, the Dominican-born bandleader who co-founded the record label that turned salsa music into a worldwide sensation, died on Monday in Teaneck, N.J. He was 85.

His wife, Maria Elena Pacheco, who is known as Cuqui, confirmed the death, at Holy Name Medical Center. Mr. Pacheco lived in Fort Lee, N.J.

Fania Records, which he founded with Jerry Masucci in 1964, signed Latin music’s hottest talents of the 1960s and ’70s, including Celia Cruz, Willie Colón, Hector Lavoe and Rubén Blades. Mr. Pacheco, a gifted flutist, led the way on and off the stage, working as a songwriter, arranger and leader of the Fania All Stars, salsa’s first supergroup.

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