The merengue legend died on Wednesday from a heart attack in his native Dominican Republic.


The Dominican Republic and Dominicans everywhere are grieving the loss of acclaimed singer Johnny Ventura. He passed away after suffering from a heart attack in Santiago de los Caballeros, DR, on Wednesday at age 81.

Ventura was at a restaurant when he fell ill and was taken to the hospital where several unsuccessful attempts were made to revive him. His son, Jandy Ventura, tearfully shared the last moments of his father's life.

"Papi died working," he said during a press conference on Wednesday night. "He was in a work meeting, and after that,he was going to record a song."

Johnny Ventura
Credit: Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for LARAS

Johnny Ventura, whose full name is Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano, rose to fame in Santo Domingo during the early sixties signing with different bands and later starting in the "Ventura Group." He gained international recognition as the Caballo Mayor [Lead Horse] for his unique rhythm and catchy lyrics htat popularized merengue music on the world stage.

Ventura also served as the Vice Mayor of Santo Domingo from 1994 to 1998.

"We want everyone to know that the Ventura family feels proud of the legacy my father left behind," Jandy Ventura continued. "We hold our head up high and feel no shame toward anything my father could have done. We want everyone in the Dominican Republic and the world to know that they lost the greatest musical master from the Dominican Republic."

The musical legend is survived by his wife —Nelly Josefina Flores— seven children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Latin artists and political figures have expressed their condolences and honored his life, including Milly Quezada, Don Omar, Jual Luis Guerra, Olga Tañon and Natti Natasha.

Dominican President Luis Abinader has proclaimed an official three-day grieving period on the island. First Lady Raquel Arbaje released a statement on Twitter.

"Today is a very sad day for merengue and for the Dominican Republic," she wrote. "Johnny Ventura, El Caballo Mayor, has left us physically, but his legacy and joy will always be with us. My embrace in solidarity for his loved ones."