Johnny Ventura: Dominican Republic bids farewell to merengue legend

The Dominican Republic is preparing to bid farewell to one of its most famous artists.

This Friday is the popular funeral of Johnny Ventura, the famous merengue singer, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81.

On Thursday an intimate wake was held among family and friends to bid farewell to “Caballo Mayor”, as he was affectionately known.

Ventura suffered a heart attack while having lunch in Santiago de los Caballeros, in the north of the Caribbean island.

He was taken to a clinic where resuscitation maneuvers were applied for 45 minutes, but the artist showed no response, according to the Union Medica Clinic.

Luis Abinader, president of the Dominican Republic, decreed three days of mourning after Ventura’s death.

“We join in the pain that overwhelms (Ventura’s) family in these difficult times. His legacy will live forever in his songs and in Dominican culture,” the Ministry of Culture said via Twitter.

Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano began his career in the 1960s and for decades was an icon of Dominican music. So much so that the U.S. Congress itself gave him recognition as such.

Ventura ventured into politics and became a congressman and then mayor of Santo Domingo.

Locally, one of the first public figures to react to Ventura’s death was the Dominican congressman Adriano Espaillat.

Johnny Ventura was a good friend of mine, he was a man of his word, a man of infinite talent, a national treasure and an icon of the Dominican community.

Ventura himself recently posted a message on his Instagram account in which he said he missed “the human warmth” of his audience. “Let’s protect ourselves to get back to normal soon,” added the now deceased musician.

Ventura recorded more than 100 albums during his prolific career of some 60 years in music.

Ventura was born on March 8, 1940 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Although as a young boy he dreamed of becoming an architect, Ventura gradually came into more and more contact with music and dance and went on to study singing and music at the Voz Dominicana school.

Ventura became an icon of merengue during the sixties, seventies and eighties, modernizing the genre by incorporating saxophones, trumpets, piano, drums, electronic effects and timbales.

His group, El Combo-Show, was declared Combo of the Year nine times by the prestigious American magazine Record World. Among his best known hits: “Capullo y sorullo”, “Pitaste”, “La resbalosa” and “Patacón pisao”.

To this day, “El caballo mayor” is considered the most prolific artist of his country, with a discography of 105 productions. During his lifetime, he was awarded 28 gold and two platinum albums, in addition to receiving a Latin Grammy in 2004 and a Grammy for Excellence for his career in 2006.

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