21 December: Remembering Paco de Lucía on his Birthday

OV Digital Desk

At the San Vito Jazz Festival in July 2010 | Courtesy: Alberto Cabello

Paco de Lucía (21 December 1947 – 25 February 2014), also known as Francisco Sánchez Gómez, was a Spanish virtuoso flamenco guitarist, composer, and record producer. A leading proponent of the new flamenco style, he was one of the first flamenco guitarists to branch into classical and jazz. Richard Chapman and Eric Clapton, authors of Guitar: Music, History, Players, describe de Lucía as a “titanic figure in the world of flamenco guitar”

Life and Career

Paco de Lucía was born on 21 December 1947 as Francisco Sánchez Gómez in Algeciras province of Cádiz, in southern Spain. Born Francisco Sánchez Gómez into a family of musicians in southern Spain, he was fascinated with the guitar from an early age. Although he received his first lessons from his father, it was his mother, Lucía, who inspired his stage name. After winning his first international flamenco competition at the age of 14, de Lucía went on to collaborate with Camarón de la Isla, one of the genre’s most celebrated singers. In 1973, he released one of his career-defining songs, Entre Dos Aguas, which received international acclaim.

De Lucía spent many years touring the world, introducing new instruments to the genre, like the Peruvian cajón, and infusing it with jazz and other styles along the way. His revolutionary approach to flamenco left an indelible mark on music both in Spain and beyond.

Legacy of Paco de Lucía

De Lucía was widely considered to be the world’s premier flamenco guitarist and by many to be Spain’s greatest musical export. His album Fuente y Caudal (Fountain and Flow) has been cited by many to have changed the world of flamenco guitar beyond traditional flamenco culture.  In 2015, Billboard magazine named de Lucía as one of The 30 Most Influential Latin Artists of All Time. A post-mortem documentary based on his life, titled Paco de Lucía: La búsqueda, was released on 24 October 2014.

Considering his immense contribution, a statue is dedicated to his memory in his native city of Algeciras, overlooking the harbour. Also, On 21 December 2016, Google doodle celebrated Paco de Lucía’s 69th Birthday.

Death & Immortality

De Lucía died of a heart attack on 25 February 2014, while on holiday with his family in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. His remains are buried at the municipal cemetery of his hometown Algeciras, Andalucía.