The 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards paid tribute to the late merenguero Johnny Ventura, almost two months after his death, on Thursday night (Sept. 23).
“El Baile del Perrito” singer Wilfrido Vargas took center stage at the star-studded event to talk about his beloved colleague and compatriot. “He’s a friend of mine that everyone all over the world has danced to his music,” he said.
“Without him, Wilfrido Vargas wouldn’t exist because he’s my dad. He’s your dad. He’s everyone’s dad,” he continued. “I would like for Johnny to listen to all of your applause from heaven.”
Ventura (real name: Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano), who had a remarkable career over six decades and more than 100 albums, was coined as “El Caballo Mayor.” Some of his biggest titles include tropical hits such as “Patacon Pisao,” “¿Pitaste?” and “Merenguero Hasta la Tambora,” all of which have become staples in Latin households.
The famed singer-songwriter, arranger and bandleader died July 28 of a sudden heart attack and was pronounced dead at Clínica Unión Medica del Norte in Santiago. He was 81 years old.
Considered the longest-running awards show in Latin music, the Billboard Latin Music Awards, which aired on Telemundo live from Miami’s Watsco Center, is the only awards show to honor the most popular albums, songs, and performers in Latin music as determined by the sales, streaming radio airplay and social data that informs Billboard’s weekly charts during a one-year period.