Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Flamenco pop-rock septet from southern France, which has a substantial population of Spanish origin (the French flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata had been a favourite of Brigitte Bardot). They began as Los Reyes '76 with gypsy brothers (lead singer) Nicholás and Tonino Reyes (sons of de Plata's singer José Reyes), with cousins from the Baliardo clan. They sang at weddings and parties, then met producer Claude Martinez '87, who renamed them; songs 'Bamboleo' and 'Djobi Djoba' were promoted by the Paris station Radio Nova. First album Gipsy Kings '88 went top ten in several countries and kept selling for years; like Mosaique '90 with its hit version of 'Volare', it featured vocals in Spanish with synths and electric bass. They became flavour of the month; George Michael used their music in his Diet Coke advert. Allegria '90 was put together from recordings made '82--3 in which the group sang in Gitane, their French/Catalan patois, and had a sparer more spontaneous sound. Este Mundo '91 (standout track 'El Mauro') was followed by Live '92, Love And Liberté '93 (with reggae-rich 'Escucha Me') and the inevitable Greatest Hits '95. They are regular stadium-fillers, sales of the first six albums adding up to $2.5m in the USA alone. Lacking the cathartic anguish and rhythmic complexity of the best flamenco, they are nevertheless very danceable, and their upbeat energy is an element of Spanish flamenco fusion, too.