Legendary Dominican singer Johnny Ventura died on Wednesday at the age of 81, officials in the Dominican Republic said.
“The Ministry of Culture deeply regrets the death of the great Dominican musician Johnny Ventura”, government entity tweeted in spanish. “We join in the pain that overwhelms her family during these difficult times. Her legacy will live on forever in her Dominican songs and culture.”
Her son, Jandy Ventura, told the Dominican press that his father died in hospital from a heart attack.
The late singer began his musical career in the early 1960s after joining several Latin music orchestras. But he rose to fame once he created his own salsa and merengue orchestra, known as the “Combo Show”, becoming one of the most popular Dominican artists of all time.
Ventura, who has been considered “the Elvis of merengue” by some in the music industry, has recorded dozens of albums throughout his 60-year career. He has won six Latin Music Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 to honor his “exceptionally artistically significant contributions to Latin music,” according to the Latin Recording Academy.
“Today is a very sad day for the merengue and for the Dominican Republic. Johnny Ventura, Mayor of El Caballo, has physically passed away, but his legacy and his joy will always be with us. My hug of solidarity to his loved ones “, Dominican First Lady Raquel Arbaje tweeted in Spanish.
After achieving superstar status in the music industry, Ventura entered politics. He was vice-mayor of Santo Domingo from 1994 to 1998, and mayor of Santo Domingo from 1998 to 2002.
Representative Adriano Espaillat, DN.Y., who is also the first Dominican-American elected to Congress, remembered Ventura as “a good friend”.
“He was a man of his word, a man of infinite talent, a national treasure and an icon of the Dominican community”, Espaillat tweeted. “My heart is breaking now that he’s gone, but his spirit must – and will continue – to live. Rest in power, brother. “
Ventura is survived by his wife of 50 years, Nelly Josefina Flores, seven children, 17 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
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