Dominican merengue star Johnny Ventura dies
Johnny Ventura, a merengue star known as “El Caballo Mayor” whose hits include “Patacón Pisao” and “Capullo y sorullo,” died Wednesday in his native Dominican Republic. He was 81 years old.
The Dominican Ministry of Culture regretted on Twitter the death of the Latin Grammy-winning musician: “We join the pain that overwhelms his family in these difficult times. His legacy will live forever in his songs and Dominican culture. "
According to press reports, Ventura began to feel discomfort in a restaurant and was transferred to a clinic. His son did not immediately return messages from the AP seeking information.
Just on Wednesday a video was published on his Facebook page in which he appeared dancing among a crowd with the caption: "I miss the human warmth of my audience, we are going to protect ourselves to return to normal soon."
Singer, songwriter, bandleader and arranger, Ventura was the creator of songs that also include "¿Pitaste?" and "Merenguero hasta la tambora".
He was recognized for having revolutionized merengue with modern lyrics and orchestrations, as well as being an ambassador of the genre by popularizing it throughout America. He performed duets with Celia Cruz, Armando Manzanero, Wilfrido Vargas, Daniela Romo, Gilberto Santa Rosa and María Díaz, among many others.
Ventura was the leader of the popular group Combo Show de Johnny Ventura. His extensive discography spans from the early 1960s, with albums such as “El llorón”, until the end of the last decade, with the 2019 hits compilation “Más de cien, un poco de mí”.
In 2004 he won the Latin Grammy for the best merengue album for “Sin waste” and in 2006 the Award for Musical Excellence from the Latin Recording Academy (which awards the Latin Grammy), for his career.
“We deeply regret the loss of a beloved teacher and legend of Latin music,” the organization tweeted. "He contributed for many years as part of the Board of Directors of the Latin Academy."
The artist, whose real name was Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano, was born on March 8, 1940. He was a member of the Dominican Revolutionary Party and became a deputy and trustee (mayor) of Santo Domingo from 1998 to 2002. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in law at the University of the Third Age.
He was married for more than five decades to Nelly Josefina Flores, with whom he had three of his seven children: Jandy and Juan José, who have their own musical project, Los Potros del Caballo, as well as their daughter Ana Yajaira.
In 2010 he published a revised version of his autobiographical book "A little bit of me" by the Editora Nacional. In 2020 the Dominican Congress awarded him Merenguero del Siglo.