Iconic merengue singer Johnny Ventura died Wednesday at 81 in his native Dominican Republic following a heart attack.
Ventura’s son Johnny Ventura confirmed to CNN the death of his father.
Ventura, who was dubbed the Elvis of merengue, had won six Latin Music Grammys, one of which was a Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 2006.
RIP: Iconic merengue singer Johnny Ventura died Wednesday at 81 in his native Dominican Republic following a heart attack. He was snapped in 2019 in Las Vegas
He was also involved in politics, as he was the mayor of Santo Domingo spanning 1998 through 2002, after a stint as vice mayor from 1994 until 1998.
The late singer, whose real name was Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano, began his performing career as a teen, competing in multiple talent shows.
His fame rose in the early 1960s as he worked with a number of different performers in Santo Domingo, including Rondón Votau’s orchestra, percussionist Donald Wild’s band, Combo Caribe De Luis Pérez and Papa Molina’s La Super Orquesta San José, according to Rolling Stone.
He eventually embarked on a solo career with the Johnny Ventura y su Combo Show, with which he had hits including El Elevador, Merenguero Hasta la Tambora, Patacon Pisao, and Pitaste.
Stalwart: Ventura, snapped in 2016 in Las Vegas, achieved success in music and politics
Accomplished: Ventura, who was dubbed the Elvis of merengue, had won six Latin Music Grammys, one of which was a Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 2006
Charming: The merengue legend was snapped in 1995 performing in New York City
Ventura would play alongside salsa 60s performers such as Celia Cruz, El Grupo Niche and Wilfrido Vargas in embarking to New York later on in the decade.
A number of people took to social media with memorials lauding Ventura’s legacy, including Raquel Arbaje Soni, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic.
She tweeted, ‘Today is a very sad day for merengue and for the Dominican Republic. Johnny Ventura, El Caballo Mayor, has left us physically, but his legacy and joy will always be with us. My solidarity hug to your loved ones.’
Onstage: Ventura was seen performing in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November of 2019
Ventura performed alongside Milly Quezada at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 16, 2016 in Las Vegas
Rep. Adriano Espaillat from New York tweeted, ‘Johnny Ventura was a good friend – he was a man of his word, a man of endless talent, a national treasure, and an icon of the Dominican community.
Espaillat, who in 2016 became the first Dominican-American elected to Congress, continued: ‘My heart breaks now that he’s gone, but his spirit must – and will – live on. Rest in power, brother.’
One user wrote that Ventura’s passing marked ‘a major loss to the legacy of the Dominican Republic’s contributions to music,’ adding, ‘Spin some classics today. This one hurts.’
The singer is survived by wife Nelly Josefina Flores, seven kids, 17 grandkids and three great-grandchildren, NBC News reported.
Notable political names such as Raquel Arbaje Soni, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, and New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat chimed in with condolences
A number of fans shared fond words of the internationally-acclaimed musical artist