Pacheco, Johnny

Pacheco, Johnny (Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping), 1935-2021, Dominican-American salsa musician, bandleader, and recording executive, b. Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. Pacheco’s father was already established as a bandleader/clarinetist in the Dominican Republic when the family relocated to New York City when Johnny was 11. He formed his first band, Pacheco y Su Charanga, in 1960, introducing a new dance style, pachanga, which combined elements of the Latin American dance the merengue with Cuban rhythms. In 1964, Pacheco cofounded Fania Records, which helped launch the careers of dozens of Latin dance-music stars, including Celia Cruz, Willie Colón, and Rubén Blades. Pacheco formed the Fania All Stars in 1968 as a performing and recording band; the group helped popularize the salsa musical style. Pacheco was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by the Dominican Republic in 1996, inducted into the Latin Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and awarded a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. The Fania All Star’s album Live at Yankee Stadium (rec. 1973; rel. 1974) was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2003. He is said to have written over 150 tunes.

See studies by V. Boggs (1992), J. Flores (2016); Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cities (video, 1988).

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