The singer, whose given name was Alvaro Jose Arroyo, died at a hospital in Barranquilla, where he was being treated for hypertension and fluid in his lungs, his manager, Luis Ojeda, told The Associated Press.
Arroyo composed some 200 songs and performed with artists including Celia Cruz and Shakira. He first appeared in the 1970s with the orchestra "Fruko y sus Tesos," and formed his own band in Medellin in 1981 called "La Verdad." Two years later, he moved to Barranquilla.
The Afro-Colombian performer "was very refined. He charmed everyone with his voice, with the enthusiasm and joy with which he sang," the leader of Fruko y sus Tesos, Julio Estrada, told the AP. "He didn't need any instrument" but his voice.
Although never winning a Grammy, Arroyo received several nominations. The Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra called Arroyo "one of the most important artists of tropical music" in Colombia, recalling the 2009 homage it performed with him in the country's capital.
The Latin Recording Academy lauded Arroyo for crossing many styles including salsa, merengue and reggae, even creating his own stile known as Joeson. It said it would celebrate him at a special awards ceremony in November. Arroyo is survived by his wife, Jacqueline Ramos, and eight children, said Ojeda.