Paco de Lucía : biography

21 December 1947 -

Richard Chapman and Eric Clapton describe de Lucía as a "titanic figure in the world of flamenco guitar", highlighting his "astounding technique and inventiveness" and his broad range of musical ideas from other styles, such as Brazilian music and jazz. He is noted for his innovation and colour in harmony and his remarkable dexterity, technique, strength and fluidity in his right hand, capable of executing extremely fast and fluent picados. A master of contrast, he often juxtaposes picados with rasgueados and other techniques and often adds abstract chords and scale tones to his compositions with jazz influences. Craig Harris of All Music noted his "deeply personal melodic statements and modern instrumentation." Atlanta magazine said, "The guitar, when used properly, can be one of the most haunting and beautiful instruments to create sound..... when he brushes his fingers across the strings, [he] can create some of the most incredible music. It's almost like a lullaby.

Another one of his contributions has been the inclusion of the cajón, an Afro-Peruvian instrument which Caitro Soto exposed him to during his visit to Peru in the late 1970s. De Lucia understood this instrument, which he saw as a permanent solution to the need for requiring percussion in flamenco. Along with Rubem Dantas, he added its percussive elements and over time, it became an essential tool of contemporary flamenco and later, other international musical trends.


Early life

Paco de Lucía was born as Francisco Sánchez Gómez in Algeciras, a city near the far southeastern point of Spain in the province of Cádiz. He is the youngest of the five children of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sánchez and Portuguese mother Lucia Gomes; his brothers include the flamenco singer, Pepe de Lucía, and flamenco guitarist, Ramón de Algeciras. Playing in the streets as a young boy, there were many Pacos and Pablos in Algeciras, and he wanted to honor his Portuguese mother Lucia Gomes, so he took adopted the stage name Paco de Lucía; name changing being a common custom in Andalusia.

His father Antonio received guitar lessons from the hand of a cousin of Melchor de Marchena: Manuel Fernandez "Titi de Marchena", a guitarist who arrived in Algeciras in the 1920s and established a school there. Antonio introduced Paco to the guitar at a young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing from the age of 5, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day, to ensure that he could find success as a professional musician. At one point, his father took him out of school to concentrate solely on his guitar development. Flamenco guitarist and biographer Donn Pohren and record producer José Torregrosa compared Paco's relationship with his father to the relationship of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Leopold Mozart in the way both fathers "moulded their sons" into becoming world-class musicians, and both continued to dictate even after they became famous. Paco's brother Ramón idolized Niño Ricardo, and taught his complex falsetas to his young brother, who would learn them with relative ease and change them to his own liking and embellish them. This angered Ramón initially who considered Ricardo's works to be sacred and thought his brother was showing off, but he soon came to immensely respect his brother and came to realize that he was a prodigious talent and a "fuera de serie", a special person. Like his brother, Ricardo was Paco's most important influence, and his first guitar hero; Paco said that "all of us youngsters would look up to him, trying to learn from him and copy him." In 1958, at age 11, Paco made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras. That year, he met Sabicas for the first time in Malaga. A year later, he was awarded a special prize at the Festival Concurso International Flamenco de Jerez de la Frontera flamenco competition.


In the early 1960s, he toured with the flamenco troupe of dancer José Greco. In New York City in 1963, at the age of 15, he had his second encounter with Sabicas and his first encounter with Mario Escudero, both of whom became Paco's mentors and later close friends. They urged him to start writing his own material, advice which he took to heart. In 1964, he met Madrileño guitarist Ricardo Modrego with whom he recorded three albums: Dos guitarras flamencas (1964), 12 canciones de García Lorca para guitarra and 12 éxitos para 2 guitarras flamencas (1965). His early albums were traditional flamenco recordings and he also recorded classics such as "Malagueña" on the 12 éxitos para 2 guitarras flamencas album. He toured again with José Greco in 1966 and recorded "Ímpetu", a bulerias composed by Mario Escudero, for his debut solo album, the 1967 album La fabulosa guitarra de Paco de Lucía. He also appeared at the 1967 Berlin Jazz Festival. According to Gerhard Klingenstein, top jazz musicians who appeared at the festival such as Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk had a profound influence on Paco, and started a deep fascination for jazz in him which has remained with him ever since. In the late 1960s, de Lucía toured Europe with a group called Festival Flamenco Gitano and encountered other new talents in the flamenco world including singer Camarón de la Isla, with whom he enjoyed a fruitful collaboration between 1968 and 1977. The two recorded 10 albums together and received considerable acclaim. Richard Nidel said that their partnership was "central to the history of flamenco in the last quarter of the twentieth century." Organizers began offering de Lucía lucrative contracts for concert tours in 1967, which he declined as he preferred to tour in company, which he did with his brother Ramón, de la Isla and other musicians. De Lucía recorded many albums with his brother, including Canciones andaluzas para 2 guitarras (1967), Dos guitarras flamencas en América Latina (1967), Fantasía flamenca de Paco de Lucía (1969), and 12 Hits para 2 guitarras flamencas y orquesta de cuerda (1969). They met Esteban Sanlucar in Buenos Aires and Juan Serrano in Detroit, and during 1970 spent considerable time in New York City where they grew close to Sabicas and Mario Escudero, playing together into the night.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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