El Maestro, The bandleader, the type of leader who lets everyone else have their chance to shine, and yet, still demands the respect and admiration that only a great musician like Johnny Pacheco can. What else can you expect from someone who went to the prestigious and world renowned Juilliard School in New York City? At Juilliard he studied percussion. Already known for his prowess on the flute, he also played the accordion, clarinet, saxophone, and violin. A musical jack of all trades. Not to mention the fact that his main claim to fame is as the bandleader and producer for the Fania All-Stars. A band he was responsible for putting together.
The Dominican born Pacheco came to NYC at the age of 11 with his family but already started on his life in music back in his homeland where his father was a bandleader and clarinet player for his own band, The Santa Cecilia Orchestra. It was his father that instilled in Pacheco the love of music, handing him his first musical instrument at a very young age.
From 1960 to 1963 Pacheco was the leader of his own band “Pacheco y Su Charanga”, who signed with Alegre Records, and released their first album entitled “Pacheco y Su Charango Vol.1”, selling well over 100,000 records in its first year. It was also during this time in which the Pachanga dance craze took hold, thanks to Pacheco. During this time, Pacheco’s fame skyrocketed, gaining fame not only all throughout Latin America but internationally as well, touring all throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. His band was also the first Latin band to headline at the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem in 1962 and 63.
La Fania era begins NOW! It’s late 1963 and history was in the making when Pacheco, along with Jerry Masucci created Fania Records of which Pacheco was CEO, producer, and creative director. It was through his genius and leadership that La Fania became the powerhouse that it was. Signing greats like Celia, Hector, Cheo, Monguito, Barreto and many more artists who would go on to become legends in the Latin music industry as well as overall pop culture icons such as Tito Puente.
Throughout his career, he has been one of the most in demand artists, appearing at Jazz festivals, Latin Music events, playing with greats from Perez Prado and Tito Rodriguez to Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett. An artist that has always been ahead of his time. His resume, speaking for itself proves that this icon was truly a force to be reckoned with. Composer, director, producer, musician, and overall genius. Johnny Pacheco was, is, and always will be El Maestro.