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.”
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.