Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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(b Antonio Sánchez Gómez, 21 December 1947, Algeciras, Spain; d 26 February 2014, Mexico) Flamenco guitarist extraordinaire, who liberated the instrument once and for all from its role as accompanist in the genre. Born into poverty, he was taught to play by his father (an important influence was his father's friend El Niño Ricardo); he took his performing name from his Portuguese mother. At age 13 he joined the company of José Greco (b Montorio, Italy, to Spanish-Italian parents; Greco has accompanied La Argentinita, and organized large-scale tours of the USA and elsewhere; his Flamenco Fury on MGM is a lively testament to theatrical flamenco dance). De Lucía met Sabicas, who encouraged him to write his own music; he won first prize '62 at the School of Flamencology in Jérez; by age 17 he had made three two-guitar albums with Ricardo Modrego including the sparkling Doce canciones de García Lorca para guitarra '65. For the next seven years he performed in a group sponsored by the German company Lippman and Rau; he met Camerón de la Isla and accompanied him on many albums until '84, and later considered these the happiest years of his professional life. Dos guitarras flamencas en America Latina '67 was another two-guitar album, with his brother Ramón de Algeciras, flamenco versions of songs such as Bonfá's 'Manha de Carnaval'; it was followed by a stronger album, Fantasía flamenca '69, hailed by the Spanish critic Felix Grande as a decisive moment in the history of flamenco.

He was a sensation at an international music festival in Barcelona '70 celebrating Beethoven's bicentennial. El duende flamenco '72 included a riveting rondeña 'Doblan campanas' and the dynamic bulería 'Punta del faro'; Fuente y Caudal '73, with the rumba 'Entre dos aguas', was a particular commercial and artistic success. Almoraima '76, named after a forested estate near Algeciras, featured creative use of Islamic motifs, an Arab lute and a tolling church bell. De Lucía learned to read music for Interpreta a Manuel de Falla '78, adapting that composer's music to flamenco guitar; the use of electric bass, percussion and rhythm guitars reflected not only experimentation but frustration with the restrictions of the Spanish flamenco world: he complained, 'Every time I pick up the guitar it's as if I know that thousand-peseta notes are tumbling out of the strings.' Having contributed a guitar solo 'Race With The Devil On Spanish Highway' to Al Di Meola's Elegant Gypsy '77, there were jazz touches on de Lucía's Solo quiero caminar '81, and he collaborated with Di Meola and John McLaughlin on Friday Night In San Francisco '81 and Passion, Grace And Fire '83; the 'Guitar Trio' re-formed for a world tour and eponymous Verve CD '96. He was seen in Carlos Saura's flamenco film Carmen '83; experimentation continued on Paco de Lucía Sextet Live '84, Siroco '87 was a return to a more imtimate sound, and Zyriab '90, named after a lengendary ninth-century Persian musician, was highly jazz-influenced. He recorded Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' '91, and Live In America '93 was thick with jazz and percussion. In late '94 he toured in the Persian Gulf, all his concerts sold out in advance. There were two CDs of Antologia on Mercury.

Upon his death there were two days of official mourning in Algeciras.