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Probably the most celebrated flamenco guitarist the world has ever seen, has died near the holiday home he owned at Playa del Carmen south of Cancún in Mexico. He is said to have been playing with his children on the beach when he collapsed from a suspected heart attack on Tuesday, February 25th 2014.
After being flown home to Spain, a funeral Mass was held in his hometown of Algeciras on Saturday March 2nd. Despite the rain, hundreds turned out to see him off.
Born on December 21st 1947 in Mediterranean town of Algeciras in the province of Cádiz, he spent his early life as Francisco Gustavo Sánchez Gomes, but became popularly known throughout the world as Paco De Lucía. The stage name was adopted in honour of his Portuguese mother Lucía Gomes.
Paco was the youngest of five children, whose father was also a flamenco guitarist. Antonio Sánchez Pecino is said to have made the young Paco practice guitar for up to twelve hours a day. His brother, Pepe, an accomplished singer, sometimes performed with De Lucía as did another of his brothers, Ramón, accompanying him on guitar.
De Lucía fathered three children with his first wife, Casilda Varela De Lucía, and two with his second, Gabriela Carrasco.
He is probably best remembered for his colaborations with Camarón de la Isla. Between 1968 and 1977, they recorded ten albums together.
De Lucía also began touring Europe with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryel as The Guitar Trio in 1979. Well respected among guitarists from rock and jazz backgrounds, he worked with Chick Corea among many others. In 1984 he provided the soundtrack for a film The Hit with Eric Clapton and Roger Waters.
May he rest in peace.
Copyright © 2014 Bryan Hemming
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My guitar-playing days were always plagued by weak nails, and how I envied those who could grow such long, strong nails. How great to have had such an experience.
Camarón de la Isla’s parents lived in Conil de la Frontera before he was born, which is where I live now. There are still family members living here. San Fernando, where he was born is about twenty miles north of here.
I interviewed him in Brazil back in the 1980s, Bryan, and he was as unpretentious and straightforward as anyone would wish from such a gifted player. Our conversation somehow wound up through the subject of nails (of your right hand, if you’re a right-hand player) and how to keep them perfectly polished. He showed his favorite polisher: a curved piece of pirarucu spine, a fish that lives in the Amazon basin, of all places. I was floored (and obviously didn’t mention my worn-out Emory boards). Best