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Johnny Pacheco and His Wife, Cuqui Pacheco in 2008.
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Johnny Pacheco's Wife Confirmed That the Legendary Musician Has Died at the Age of 85

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Feb. 16 2021, Published 10:46 a.m. ET

Music legend Johnny Pacheco (real name Juan Azarías Pacheco Knipping), who is credited with bringing salsa music to worldwide recognition, died on Feb. 15, 2021, at the age of 85. The late composer was born in the Dominican Republic, and he moved with his musically-inclined parents to New York City when he was 11. 

His first band, Pacheco y Su Charanga, formed in 1960, and Johnny began touring around the world. 

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Though he had been releasing music and he had several hits on the airwaves, many consider one of Johnny's greatest achievements to be his record company, which specialized in putting out salsa music. 

Though he had been releasing music and he had several hits on the airwaves, many consider one of Johnny's greatest achievements to his record company, which specialized in putting out salsa music. the label into mainstream success.

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His music and his role at Fania Records made Johnny a key figure in the U.S. salsa scene throughout the '60s and into the '70s. He directed the Fania All-Stars, and the group performed to a sold-out Yankee Stadium in 1973.

He was nominated for nine Grammy Awards as well.

Johnny Pacheco's professional life has cemented his status as a music icon, and many have wondered about his more private personal life. Keep reading for more information about his passing and to find out who his wife was. 

Who was Johnny Pacheco's wife?

At the time of his passing, the salsa icon was married to Maria Elena "Cuqui" Pacheco. Not much is publicly known about Cuqui, and it's unclear when exactly the two got married. 

Billboard reported that Johnny was previously married before forming his record label in the '60s. He reportedly hatched the idea for Fania Records with Jerry Masucci when the lawyer was assisting him with his divorce. 

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He is survived by Cuqui and by his four children. Johnny had two sons, Phillip and Elis, and two daughters, Joanne and Norma. 

Cuqui and Johnny were residing in New Jersey at the time of his death. 

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What was Johnny Pacheco's cause of death?

Johnny passed away in a New Jersey hospital on Feb. 15, 2021, his family confirmed on his official Facebook fan page. His wife, Cuqui, led the statement on the public forum.

"With great pain in my soul and a void in my heart I inform you that teacher Johnny Pacheco with much peace passed away this afternoon," the Feb. 15 statement read. "Thank you for all your prayers and all the love you always gave him. Right now we ask for privacy and prayers."

The words were signed by "Cuqui Pacheco and family."

Just a few days before his death, Johnny's family asked fans for a "chain of prayer" because he had been hospitalized with a severe case of pneumonia. Cuqui did not explicitly state what Johnny's cause of death was, but many have assumed that it was related to his recent bout with pneumonia. 

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The official Twitter account for Fania Records (which was acquired by Concord in 2018), released a statement about his death as well. 

"It is with profound sadness we share the news of the passing of Johnny Pacheco," the tweet read. "He was one of Fania's founders and the man most responsible for the genre of Salsa music. He was a visionary and his music will live on eternally."

Our thoughts are with Johnny's loved ones and his ardent fans at this time.

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