Johnny Ventura: Dominican merengue legend dies aged 81

image source, Getty Images
image captionVentura's legendary career spanned six decades

Iconic Dominican singer Johnny Ventura has died of a heart attack at the age of 81.

Ventura, whose career spanned six decades, shot to fame after forming a merengue and salsa orchestra called the "combo show".

The band was considered one of the most significant groups in the musical history of the Caribbean nation.

Merengue, which draws on African and Spanish influences, is both a genre of music and a partner dance style.

Luis Abinader, president of the Dominican Republic, declared three days of mourning after Ventura's death.

Mr Abinader also said that the singer - known affectionately as "El Caballo Mayor", or Big Horse - would posthumously receive military honours.

According to a report from the hospital that treated him, Ventura collapsed while having lunch in the northern city of Santiago de los Caballeros.

He did not respond to resuscitation efforts, the Clinica Unión Medica added.

The artist made more than 100 albums in his lengthy music career, and was awarded six Latin Grammys.

He later pursued a career in politics, becoming the mayor of the capital Santo Domingo.

Ventura, who was born Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano on 8 March, 1940, was married for more than 50 years and had seven children.

The Dominican Ministry of Culture tweeted: "We join in the pain that overwhelms [Ventura's] family in these difficult times. His legacy will live on forever in his songs and Dominican culture."

More on this story