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Flamenco Guitar’s Brightest Star Gone

For fans of Flamenco music, you simply could not get any better than Paco de Lucia. He was one of the greatest guitar players of all times and a Spanish national treasure.

For the rest of the world and especially guitar aficionados, on February 25, 2014, one of the brightest stars in the musical heavens suddenly flickered and  went dark when Paco de Lucia died. 

I first heard his music while living in Zaragoza, Spain during the 1970s. His seemingly casual mastery and unique style were stunning. I have been an avid fan ever since.  I found a 1976 Spanish TV video of him performing Entre Dos Aquas. You can watch it now by clicking here

In a musical watershed moment, the world learned about this virtuoso guitarist through his rumba; Entre Dos Aguas (Between Two Waters) referring to his hometown of Algeciras, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. It was a sweeping introduction to the musical fierceness, passion, and elegance of centuries-old gypsy flamenco music from at least four cultures: Gypsy, Moors (Arab), Jews and Andalusian.

The global music industry immediately noticed la entrada of Paco de Lucia. They quickly embraced his signature picados (what guitar ‘riffs’ want to be when they grow up) and the unique Paco de Lucia strumming and fingering style characterized as the most advanced flamenco approach the world had ever known.

Present-day jazz greats Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea were the first to add de Lucia’s emotional elegance to their work. Soon, they played to audiences of 5-10,000 all over the world. 

This was followed by several orchestral performances and even the blending of de Lucia’s unique style with Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” for the TV show soundtrack “Spain: On The Road Again.”

But, it was rock music superstar Bryan Adams who showcased the romantic, sensual, and intimate side of Paco de Lucia’s work to the enormous international pop-rock audience. In 1995 Adams wrote the Oscar-Nominated “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” for the movie, Don Juan DeMarco. The music video for the song featured both Adams and Paco de Lucia. You can watch it now by clicking here.

Akin to a flame passing from a single candle to another which in turn, lights another candle and another over and again, the influence of this flamenco maestro cannot be overstated. Indeed, at this moment somewhere, there is an acoustic guitarist relentlessly practicing their picados; seeking to emulate and perhaps momentarily capture the essence of what was and what always will be, Paco de Lucia.