Legendary salsa star Cheo Feliciano has died in a car crash at the age of 78.

A vehicle driven by Feliciano, real name Jose Luis Feliciano Vega, collided with a post in the Puerto Rican city of Cupey in the early hours of Thursday morning (17Apr14), according to a spokesperson for the country's police.

Feliciano began his career as a percussionist in a number of high-profile salsa bands, including Tito Rodriguez's orchestra, before becoming the singer for the Joe Cuba sextet. He later joined Fania Records' Fania All-Stars.

The musician became a determined anti-drug campaigner after beating an addiction to heroin at the end of the 1960s, and he volunteered to help with the rehabilitation of other salsa stars who had were battling drugs.

In 2008, New York's then-mayor Michael Bloomberg declared 20 June Cheo Feliciano day in honour of his 50-year career in the music industry, and he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latin Grammy the same year.

Feliciano was inducted into Puerto Rico's Music Hall of Fame in 2013, months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer. It is not known how far the illness had progressed when Feliciano died.