Paco de Lucía – the man who revolutionized flamenco

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De Lucia is a truly unique guitarist, considered to be a genius because of the notable innovations he brought in the field of music during his days. Through the playing of Paco de Lucia, the role of the flamenco guitar became more pronounced and established. He was specifically accredited for establishing and popularizing flamenco which has now successfully registered in various genres including Jazz, R&B, Classical, Pop e.t.c. He was deeply respected among the guitarist and musicians of his time, in fact, he was referred to as one of history’s greatest guitarist. He was so appreciated among musicians because of the dynamism of his guitar play; his tonal fluency, finger speed and runs, chord dynamics, and also dynamism in his melody. He was not just well respected among his fellow musician but was considered by all his audience as the most important and influential in flamenco history. He has performed with various outstanding musicians, the likes of; Al Di Meola, Ramon de Algeciras, John McLaughlin and others.

On the 21st December 1947, in a small city in the remote south of Spain, a city called Algeciras, Paco de Lucia was born to the family of Antonio Sanchez Pecino and Lucia Gomez. He was born in a flamenco music inclined family. The father Antonio was a flamenco guitarist and his Portuguese mother who was a singer. He as the last child of the family had his older siblings to be either flamenco singer or guitarist taking after their father and mother. De Lucia was brought to be an outstanding and peculiar musician. He was privileged to trained with his father and brother at such a tender age of 5 and at the age of 11, he has mastered to great extent the art of flamenco guitar. His first performance was in the year 1958 in the city of Algeciras. He won himself a particularly special award at the Festival Concurso Internacional Flamenco de Jerez de la Frontera. He joined a group called Flamenco Troupe on his 16th anniversary by invitation. The group was then led by dancer José Greco and he was with the group for the next three years. It was after his encounter with Flamenco Troupe that he began musical tour starting from North America. This considerably mark a turn-around to his career in flamenco music. Although his transition from the traditional flamenco to his own modern flamenco was not that smooth as he remained tied to traditional flamenco on his first two solo albums which are; La Fabulosa Guitarra de Paco de Lucia recorded in 1967 and Fantasia Flamenca recorded 1969.

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He started street playing at a very young age of his life, which impacted his musical career positively later in future. He as a son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez and also the brother of a flamenco guitarist, Ramón de Algeciras, and flamenco singer, Pepe de Lucia, took a step further from the traditional flamenco guitar to infuse into his play modern styles and instrumentation. He worked hand in hand to produce several albums with flamenco vocalist El Camaron de la Isla. He worked with an American pianist Chick Corea and the Guitar Trio, collaborating with guitarists John McLaughlin , Larry Coryell and Al Di Meola.

Despite the fact that de Lucia infused modern contemporary styles of play into flamenco, he did not completely forsake the traditional flamenco. In his album he produced in the year 1980, he paid homage to the classical composer and flamenco enthusiast, while his 1987 album, Siroco, marked a return to pure flamenco. He once said “I have never lost the roots in my music,” during a session of interview with him, “because I would lose myself. What I have tried to do is have a hand holding onto tradition and the other scratching, digging in other places, trying to find new things I can bring into flamenco.”

Paco de Lucia died on February 2014 due to a heart attack. The news of his death was shocking and unexpected. He died at the age of 66 years old in Mexico. His impact on the world of flamenco music can never be forgotten.