Guitar Genius Paco de Lucia Dies at 66

Paco de Lucia
Paco de Lucia
Spanish flamenco guitar maestro and innovator Paco de Lucia died in Cancun (Mexico) today, February 26, 2014. The renowned musician was spending a day at the beach with his children when he fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. De Lucia passed away of a heart attack. He was 66.

News of the passing of one of Spain’s most celebrated musicians, have generated a wave of statements and tributes. The Spanish royal family sent condolence telegrams to Paco de Lucia’s family. His hometown of Algeciras in Cadiz province (southernmost Spain) has declared three days of official mourning and flags are flying at half-staff.

Paco de Lucia was the winner of the 2004 Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Artes, Spain’s most prestigious arts award. Teresa Sanjurjo, director of The Prince of Asturias Foundation stated that Paco de Lucia “was capable of crossing borders with his music, taking flamenco to worldwide recognition.”

The mayor of Algeciras declared that that Paco de Lucia was “the greatest guitar player in the world.”

Paco de Lucia
Paco de Lucia
José Luis Acosta, president of SGAE (Spanish Performing Rights organization) stated: “Paco was and will be a universal artist, who took the guitar and flamenco sentiment to the heart of the whole world.” As a composer, Paco de Lucia registered 400 musical pieces.

The president of the Diputación de Cadiz (Cadiz provincial government), José Loaiza declared “the province has lost today oneof its great geniuses. A man that universalized the Spanish guitar. An artist capable of filling a whole stage with just his guitar. It is a sad day, we will always have his legacy.”

Paco de Lucia’s real name was Francisco Sánchez Gómez. He was born on December 21st, 1947. His stage name, translated as Lucia’s Paco, was a tribute his mother Lucía Gómez.

In 1958, at 11, Paco de Lucía made his first public performance and a year later he was awarded a special prize in the Jerez flamenco competition. In 1961 he formed a duo with his brother Pepe called Los Chiquitos de Algeciras (the little children of Algeciras). At 14 he was touring with the flamenco troupe of dancer Jose Greco. He worked with Greco for three seasons.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Paco de Lucía developed his own style. His beautifully constructed pieces and his masterful technique took flamenco guitar into new directions. Paco de Lucia incorporated jazz elements, the Afro-Peruvian cajon which has become a standard in flamenco and other world music genres, electric bass, and Afro-Latin percussion.

He released essential albums such as Fantasía Flamenca de Paco de Lucía, (Polygram, 1969), El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucía (Polygram, 1972), Fuente y Caudal (also known as Entre Dos Aguas ) (Polygram, 1973), Paco de Lucía en vivo desde el Teatro Real (Polygram, 1975) and Almoraima (Polygram, 1976).

In 1968, he met Camarón de la Isla, one of the most influential flamenco singers in the 20th century. Their association was chronicled on more than critically acclaimed 10 records.

Paco de Lucia gained international recognition with his stellar performance in Friday Night in San Francisco (Polygram, 1981) with John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola.

Paco de Lucia’s awards include Premio Nacional de Guitarra de Arte Flamenco (National Flamenco Guitar Award), the 1992 Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal for Merit in the Arts), the 2002 Pastora Pavón La Niña de los Peines award given by the Junta de Andalucía (Andalusian Regional Government), and a Latin Grammy for best flamenco album in 2004. He was also granted a Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the Universidad de Cádiz and Berklee College of Music (2010).

Paco de Lucia lived in and out of Spain in recent years, spending time in Palma de Mallorca (Spain), the Yucatán peninsula (Mexico), Toledo (Spain), and Cuba.

For additional biographical details and discography, read the Paco de Lucia biography at World Music Central.

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2 thoughts on “Guitar Genius Paco de Lucia Dies at 66”

  1. Just hearing of the unexpected death of Paco De Lucia, I am thrilled to find these samples of his incredible talent. I love the guitar. I mean the Spanish, classical, flamenco guitar, played with fingers, and nothing else. Al Di Meola, and John Mcglaughlin are great players. I admire their intensity, and precision, but they use a plectrum, and that makes playing these blazing scales easier. When you have to play classical or flamenco music, the difficulty of achieving good execution is more, and much more than doubled. Paco De Lucia is certainly on a different level. He certainly warrants the reputation he holds.

    As a player, I fell under his spell about four years ago, and though I would never trade the the restrained elegance of a piece like Tarrega’s “Marietta” or the “Oriental” of Granados, the music of Paco De Lucia pulled me in its direction, and There is no doubt that I am a better player for it. Thank you Paco.

    I’m lucky to have the beauty of the guitar any time I want it, like the DVD recording I played last night of the Concerto De Aranjuez played by Angel Romero for the United Nations some years ago. It is, not might be, the greatest rendering of that work in existence.

  2. Two more brief comments; I don’t know if the A. Romero mentioned on this website is related in any way to the Angel Romero of the famous “Los Romeros”. The guitarist Angel Romero is one of the greatest exponents of the classical guitar. It is him that I referred to in the above comment. Any confusion in that regard is inadvertent.

    One more comment about Paco De Lucia; if you watch the video of his playing in Barcelona (The one in black and white) notice when he finishes the piece he played with his brother who accompanied him, he seems to go out of his way to show humility in his demeanor. Once the piece is over his immediate expression conveyed to me that he might have felt a little uncomfortable hearing the applause that was mostly offered to him more than his brother. That says a lot about his character.
    This might sound strange, but when I pick up my guitar, I sometimes feel his presence, and silent encouragement.

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