In his homeland, Johnny Ventura was deeply revered. Now the Dominican singer has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The country’s president has ordered state mourning.

Santo Domingo (AP) – Dominican singer Johnny Ventura, also known as the “father of merengue”, has died at the age of 81.

He apparently suffered a heart attack during a working lunch in the city of Santiago on Wednesday (local time), his son Jandy told “Diario Libre” newspaper and other media. In fact, his father wanted to go to the recording studio.

“Johnny was an icon”

President Luis Abinader has ordered a three-day national mourning. “Johnny was an icon, a master of merengue who amused all Dominicans and infected the whole world with his talent,” he said.

The musician, originally from the capital Santo Domingo, was considered an innovator of merengue, a Caribbean style of music and dance that originated in the Dominican Republic and also popular outside Latin America. Saxophones and trumpets were also part of his group El Combo Show.

Ventura, who was also known for his fast dances, released over 100 records and received a Latin Grammy during his 60-year career.

His most famous pieces are “Patacón pisao”, “¿Pitaste? “,” Merenguero hasta la tambora “and” Las indias de Bani “.

He was also active as a politician, first as a member of parliament and later as mayor of Santo Domingo. He was a role model for everyone, Dominican musician Juan Luis Guerra wrote on Twitter: “You have all shown us what merengue is. Thanks, Don Johnny !! “.