born on 25/3/1935 in Santiago de los Caballeros, Cibao, Dominican Republic
died on 15/2/2021 in Teaneck, NJ, United States
Johnny Pacheco (born 25 March 1935) is a Dominican musician, arranger, composer, producer, and bandleader of Cuban music (guaracha, son montuno, danzón, cha cha chá, guajira-son, pachanga). He is one of the most influential figures in Latin music, best known for being the creator of the Fania All-Stars and Fania Records, and for coining the term "Salsa" to denote the genre.
Pacheco is widely recognized as a salsa pioneer and innovator and is a 9-time Grammy nominee and was awarded the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award by The Latin Recording Academy in 2005.
Early life and family
Born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, Pacheco inherited his passion for music from his father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, who was the bandleader and clarinetist of the "Santa Cecilia Orchestra". In the late 1940s, when Pacheco was 11, his family moved to New York City. He continued polishing his musical skills, learning to play accordion, violin, flute, saxophone and clarinet.
His father, Rafael Azarías Pacheco, was the grandson of a Spanish soldier who arrived during the Spanish reannexation of Santo Domingo. His mother, Octavia Knipping Rochet, was the granddaughter of a French colonist, and the great-granddaughter of a German merchant who was married to a Dominican woman born to Spanish colonists.
Early music career
Playing the flute, saxophone, and various percussion instruments, Pacheco performed with Charlie Palmieri's (the brother of Eddie Palmieri's) Latin orchestra for a number of years before forming his own band in 1959.
In 1960, he organized his first orchestra, Pacheco y Su Charanga. The band signed with Alegre Records and within the first year of its release, his first album Johnny Pacheco y Su Charanga sold over 100,000 copies. Beginning then and through the end of 1963 Pacheco introduced a new dance craze called "Pachanga". He became an internationally renowned star and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Moreover, "Pacheco y Su Charanga" was the first Latin band to headline the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1962 and 1963.
Pacheco's career as a musician reached its peak in 1964, when he joined forces with Jerry Masucci to create Fania Records, of which Pacheco was the CEO, creative director, and musical producer. At Fania Records, Pacheco launched and solidified the careers of many artists who are now part of the history of the “Fania Family.” This was the record label that set the gold standard in Latin music and gained previously unimaginable international celebrity for many of its recording artists.
In 1964, the label released his next endeavor entitled Cañonazo (Cannon Shot). The album featured Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez on vocals and a switch from the Charanga to the smaller-format Conjunto style. This was the first of many recordings with the "compadres" (literally, "godfathers"), and the beginning of a long friendship and working relationship between Pacheco and Rodriquez. Together, they recorded Los Compadres (1970), Perfecta Combinación (Perfect Combination) (1971), Tres de Café y Dos de Azúcar (Three Parts Coffee and Two Parts Sugar) (1973) and many other successful albums.
In 1967, he gathered many of the musicians from the Fania label and showcased them together in concert. This marked the birth of the legendary Fania All-Stars.
Also in 1966, Pacheco worked with the nasal-voiced singer Monguito "El Único" from the band Orquesta Broadway and vocalist Chivirico Dávila to record the seminal "Viva África" LP. This album nods to Pacheco's increasing popularity at the time in West Africa. Pacheco would later make a pilgrimage to Africa partly based upon that notoriety and his Afro-Caribbean ancestry.
Original Fania band
The early Fania All-Stars band was made up of Johnny Pacheco, musical director and flute; Larry Harlow on piano; Bobby Valentín (later replaced by Salvador "Sal" Cuevas) on bass guitar; Ray Barretto on conga (replaced later on by others, including Mongo Santamaría, Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez and Eddie Montalvo); Roberto Roena on bongos; and Orestes Vilató on timbales (later replaced by Nicky Marrero due to a conflict with Ray Barretto, whose singer, Adalberto Santiago, formed La Típica 73 with Vilató, angering Barretto and forcing Pacheco to replace Vilató to prevent internal conflicts); Willie Colón, Barry Rodgers (subsequently replaced), and Renaldo Jorge (replaced by several others) on trombones; Larry Spencer (also to be replaced), Roberto Rodríguez (replaced by Víctor Paz, and subsequently by Juan "Juancito" Torres) and Héctor "Bomberito" Zarzuela on trumpets; and Yomo Toro on the cuatro (a small Puerto Rican guitar with 5 pairs of double strings).
The lead singers included vocalists from the Colón, Pacheco, Barretto and Harlow bands. Héctor Lavoe, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Adalberto Santiago, and Ismael Miranda were joined by Santitos Colón (from the Tito Puente band), José Cheo Feliciano (from the Joe Cuba band) and Ismael Quintana (from the Eddie Palmieri orchestra). Early Fania All-Stars guests were Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Joe Bataan, Monguito, Mongo Santamaría, Jr., Jimmy Sabater, La Lupe, Louie Ramírez, Ralph Robles Ricardo, Richie Ray, and Bobby Cruz. The 1970s lineup included Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz, Papo Lucca, Luigi Texidor, Jorge Santana (Carlos's brother), drummer Billy Cobham, and the Cameroonian sax player Manu Dibango who appeared as a guest in concerts and live recordings in Puerto Rico and New York. Singer Andy Montañez would later join the band in the mid 1990s.
Pacheco has recorded and composed over 150 songs. Among them are "Mi Gente", "La Dicha Mia", "Quítate Tú" (Pa’ Ponerme Yo), "Acuyuye," "El Rey de la Puntualidad," Tito Puente‘s "El Número Cien," and Celia Cruz's "Celia y Tito." His nine Grammy nominations, ten Gold records and numerous awards acknowledge his creative talent as composer, arranger, bandleader and producer.
Pacheco has also been an inspiration to the younger generations. For example, rap artist Mangu asked him to write arrangements, sing chorus, and play the flute in his album entitled Calle Luna y Calle Sol. Pacheco also produced music for feature films; he was the musical director of the film, Our Latin Thing, the first film about salsa and its influence on New York Latinos; he worked on a second film entitled Salsa released in 1974. In the 1980s, he wrote the musical scores and themes for the films Mondo New York and Something Wild. The latter was a collaboration with David Byrne, the lead singer of the group Talking Heads. Several tracks that he arranged, produced, and/or performed were on the soundtrack of the 1992 Warner Brothers film, The Mambo Kings.
Pacheco participated in the AIDS benefit concert "Concierto Por La Vida" in November 1988 at New York City's Avery Fisher Hall. He demonstrated his solidarity with the victims of Hurricane Georges (Zhorzh) by collaborating with the Hispanic Federation Relief Fund during "Hurricane Georges Relief Fund 1998". This event was transmitted live across the northeastern United States by the NBC television network. He also participated at an event at Hostos Community College for the same purpose.
Awards and recognition
Pacheco's contributions to Latin Music have been recognized throughout his illustrious career. The following are among the awards that have been bestowed upon him:
In 1996, the then President of the Dominican Republic, Joaquín Balaguer, bestowed him with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Honor. A year later, Pacheco was the recipient of the Bobby Capó Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded by New York Governor George Pataki. In addition, Pacheco was presented with the First International Dominican Artist Award from the distinguished Casandra Awards. In June 1996, Johnny Pacheco was the first Latin music producer to receive the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, (NARAS) Governor's Award in New York City.
In 1998, Pacheco was inducted to [International Latin Music Hall of Fame] (ILMHF) during the first Induction and Award of the ILMHF. The ILMHF awarded him The Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2002.
In 2004, Pacheco was awarded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, ASCAP Silver Pen Award.
On June 5, 2005, Pacheco was honored by Union City, New Jersey with a star on the Walk of Fame at Union City's Celia Cruz Park.
On March 24, 2009, Pacheco was awarded "El Soberano", the highest distinction given by the Association of Art Columnists of the Dominican Republic.
In 2007, Pacheco was portrayed in the movie El Cantante starring Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.
- Pacheco y Su Charanga, Vol. 1 1960 (Alegre Records)
- Pacheco y su Charanga, Vol. 2 1961 (Alegre Records)
- Que Suene la Flauta, Vol. 3 1962 (Alegre Records)
- Suavito, Vol. 4 1962 (Alegre Records)
- Spotlight on Pacheco, Vol. 5 1963 (Alegre Records)
- The Alegre All-Stars, Vol. 1 (Alegre Records)
- Once Upon A Time 1964 (Alegre Records)
- Las Charangas 1963 (Alegre Records)
- Cañonazo 1964 (1st recording for Fania Records)
- Pacheco at the N.Y. World's Fair 1964
- Pacheco, His Flute and Latin Jam 1965
- By Popular Demand 1966
- Viva África 1966
- Pacheco Te Invita a Bailar 1967
- Sabor Típico 1967
- Pacheco presents Monguito 1968
- 1968 Volando Bajito
- Los Dinámicos 1970
- La Perfecta Combinación 1971
- Los Compadres 1972
- Tres de Café y Dos de Azúcar 1973
- 10 Great Years 1974
- Celia & Johnny 1974
- Tremendo Caché 1975
- El Maestro 1976
- Recordando el Ayer 1977
- The Artist 1977
- El Zorro de Plata y El Flaco de Oro 1981
- De Nuevo con Celia Cruz
- Jícamo 1985
- ¡Sima! 1993
- Salsobita 1987
- Celebración 1989
- Llegó Melón 1977
- Eternos con Celia Cruz
- Introducing Johnny Pacheco
- Champ 1980
- Los Amigos 1980
- Flying High
- Los Dos Mosqueteros
- La Crema
- Los Distinguidos
- De Película (Rolando Laserie)
- Las Tres Flautas
- Pacheco y Fajardo
- De Nuevo Los Compadres 1983
- Celia, Johnny y Pete
- Entre Amigos
- Había Una Vez (Once Upon a Time) (1970)
- 10 Great Years (1973)
- Lo Mejor de Pacheco (The Best of Pacheco) (1974)
- Introducing... (1989)
- Pacheco's Party (1994)
- Johnny Pacheco (2000)
- The Best of Johnny Pacheco (2001)
- Lo Mejor (2004)
- Reserva Musical (2008)
With George Benson
- Tell It Like It Is (A&M/CTI, 1969)
With Kenny Burrell
- Blues - The Common Ground (Verve, 1968)
- Night Song (Verve, 1969)
With Johnny Lytle
- A Man and a Woman (Solid State, 1967)
With Les McCann
- Les McCann Plays the Hits (Limelight, 1966)
With McCoy Tyner
- McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington (Impulse!, 1964)
With Kai Winding
- Dance to the City Beat (Columbia, 1959)
Fania All-Stars (musical director)
- Live at the Red Garter Vol 1
- Live at the Red Garter Vol 2
- Live at the Cheetah Vol 1
- Live at the Cheetah Vol 2
- Live at Yankee Stadium Vol 1
- Live at Yankee Stadium Vol 2
- Live in Africa
- Live in San Juan - 1973
- A Tribute to Tito Rodríguez
- Live in Japan - 1976
- Delicate and Jumpy
- Spanish Fever
- Rhythm Machine
- Viva La Charanga
- Latin Connection
- Lo Que Pide La Gente
- California Jam
- Havana Jam
- Social Change
- The Perfect Blend
- Viva Colombia - The Cali Concert
- Live in Puerto Rico - 1993
- Music of Latin America
- Music of New York City
- Latin Jazz
- "Interview: A Visit with Maestro Johnny Pacheco". Descarga.com. Archived from the original on 2000-09-16. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Latin Music USA". PBS. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Johnny Pacheco Biography Page". Johnnypacheco.com. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Cápsulas genealógicasRestauración, soldados españoles y genealogía". Hoy.com.do. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Instituto Dominicano de Genealogía, Inc". Idg.org.do. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Huellas de familia" (PDF). Idg.org.do. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "Johnny Pacheco | Listen to Salsa Music from Johnny Pacheco". Fania.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- Clarke, Donald, The Penguin Encyclopedia Of Popular Music, ISBN 0-14-051147-4
- Evan Bailyn. "Artists - Pacheco, Johnny". Music of Puerto Rico. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- "Various - The Mambo Kings (Selections From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- "Johnny Pacheco Biography Page". Johnnypacheco.com. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- "International Latin Music Hall of Fame Announces Inductees for 2002 - re> NEW YORK, April 5 /PRNewswire/". New York: Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
- "2004 ASCAP Silver Pen Award Honoring Johnny Pacheco". Johnnypacheco.com. Retrieved 2016-04-29.
- Rosero, Jessica. "'La vida es un carnaval' North Hudson celebrates 6th annual Cuban Day Parade" The Hudson Reporter; May 26, 2006
- Official website of Johnny Pacheco
- Pacheco 50th anniversary celebration