Farewell to Paco de Lucía. The world famous classical guitar virtuoso died today at the age of sixty-six. It feels like he had been around much longer than that. His name was a household item. He was THE flamenco guitarist, natural genius, and independent spirit.
Paco de Lucía was born in the area around Cádiz, Andalusia, where the flamenco guitar tradition is very strong. Turns out that he was of Gypsy descent. His father, also a musician, seems to have been something of a Leopold Mozart – he made his son practice guitar every day from a very early age. Later he took his son out of school so that he could concentrate on becoming a first-rate professional guitarist. I am willing to bet that even Paco de Lucía‘s father could not have foreseen that his son would become a musical legend during his own lifetime.
The name of Paco de Lucía became synonymous with guitar, with Spain, with flamenco, with greatness. No flamenco or Spanish guitar fan would miss a chance of seeing Paco de Lucía play himself in the 1983 movie “Carmen“. He appeared in the film as a close friend and associate of the main character, a dancer named Antonio (played by the late Antonio Gades, another major flamenco artist).
Despite his stardom, Paco de Lucía liked being regarded as one of the “guys”, a member of the artistic brotherhood, one among equals. He was always ready to laugh and always ready to speak his mind. As a musician he was unparalleled. There is hardly anything that can compare with his sound: deep, velvety, profoundly stirring, and infinitely soothing at the same time.
It will be strange to live in a world without Paco de Lucía, but we will have to get used to it. He died while playing with his grandkids on the beach. As someone wrote today: “Now he will be teaching angels how to play guitar“. So, from now on, when we hear the angels play, we will know that one of them is Paco de Lucía.