Not happy news, won't interest most, but I wanted to write a bit about one of my personal heroes, Paco de Lucía, who passed away today. He was 68.
Paco de Lucía was undoubtedly the most influential flamenco guitar player ever. He even grew out of flamenco and spanish guitar in general to record and tour with the likes of Al di Meola or John McLaughlin. I remember him telling how he started on guitar at a very young age, when his father started locking him in a room for 14 or 15 hours straight to practice. He didn't even learn how to read proper musical notation, or any theory at all until many decades later, when he needed it to play classical pieces such as Concierto de Aranjuez.
He was a gipsy, born in one of the most depressed and poor zones of Spain in the decade after the Civil War, under Franco's dictatorship. I know my own grandfathers told me about the starvation they suffered back then, and they lived in the northern, richer and more fertile lands. He was also from an opressed racial minority. Still, he managed to become a flamenco "tocaor" (guitar player) and reach the top of his art during his years with another flamenco great, the singer Camarón de la Isla.
In later years, he experimented, played, and changed musical views and flavours with many masters of different styles, such as jazz and blues, and was internationally regarded as one of the best guitar players in the world.
While I know flamenco guitar won't ever interest everyone, or might even be difficult to like, I feel an inmense pride about being his countryman, and his art being the art of my homeland. Paco was great, huge here. He was a master, a virtuoso. I've never seen anyone play flamenco like he did, he was one with his instrument in a way few great guitar players have been.
As an aspiring guitar player and music lover myself, and an inhabitant of a country in desperate need of good news from any front, I felt a deep sadness from his passing away. Good there is so much material from him and other greats like him so they will never leave us fully.
Here are some videos from him. It's a special music, flamenco. I don't feel it the way they feel it in the south, but I can appreciate the emotion and skill involved.
¡Descansa en paz, Francisco Sánchez Gómez, maestro!