NEW YORK (AP) — Sport idol Johnny Pacheco, that had been a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate and backer of music celebrities like Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz, expired Monday.

He was hospitalized in New York a couple of days before for his wife, Maria Elena”Cuqui” Pacheco, stated on the artist’s Facebook account.

Fania Records tweeted that the artist has been”the guy most responsible for its music genre of salsa music. He was a visionary and his songs will live on forever.”

In an article on his social websites, Blades stated that”Pacheco leaves us with a significant musical heritage, represented with of the collaborations he made throughout his career.”

Singer Marc Anthony lamented the loss of Pacheco, calling him”maestro of maestros” along with a fantastic friend.

“Your sense of humor was infectious and I am eternally thankful for your service, for the chance to maintain your presence and for the incredible heritage,” Anthony wrote.

Pacheco was born March 25, 1935, at the Dominican Republic to a family of musicians. From the 1940s the family moved into New York, in which he taught himself to play with accordion, violin, saxophone and clarinet and studied percussion at Juilliard.

In 1954 he formed The Chuchulecos Boys using Palmieri on piano, Barry Rogers on trombone along with other musicians who’d gain renown in the salsa scene, for example Al Santiago, Mike Collazo and Ray Santos.

Nevertheless, the life-changing moment arrived in 1963, when Pacheco partnered with lawyer Jerry Masucci to found Fania Records.

Pacheco was the music director, composer, arranger and producer, overseeing the tag’s genre of music which came to be called salsa — a combination of Cuban mambo, guaracha and chachachá, Puerto Rican rhythms and Dominican meringue. He also received the Latin Recording Academy Music Excellence Award in 2005 and has been nominated for several Grammys and Latin Grammys.

“His music and legacy will survive forever and continue to inspire music founders around the globe,” Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, said in a statement.