Town turns out to bury Paco de Lucía
Saturday, 19 April 2014 05:44
The whole of Algeciras turned out last Saturday to bury its most famous son - world famous guitarist Paco de Lucia who died of a heart attack at his home in Cancun, Mexico on February 26th.
He was 66. His death cast a shadow over Andalusia Day celebrations across the region on the 28th. His remains arrived in Madrid late Thursday night and were taken to the National Auditorium where his friends and admirers paid their last respects on Friday. Crown Prince Felipe was among the hundreds of people who had started queuing as early as 6 am.
The coffin was then taken to Algeciras where it arrived just after midnight on Friday and was installed in the Ayuntamiento's plenary meeting room, covered in the Spanish and Andalusian flags. People not just from the town but from all over Andalusia started paying their respects at 3 am. Shortly after noon, the funeral service was held at the Nuestra Señora de la Palma church before the coffin was carried to the town's old cemetery where his father and mother are buried. De Lucia had spent little time at his home town since he became famous more than 40 years ago but he had expressed a wish to be buried next to his parents.
Mayor José Ignacio Landaluce (PP) thanked the public for the "great affection, admiration and respect" they had shown in their "last tribute to the greatest guitarist of all times" and declared two days of official mourning. He called the musician's death an "irreparable loss for the world of culture and for Andalusia".
A very special musician
Paco de Lucia became famous for a series of flamenco albums in the 1970s, but he also crossed over into classical and jazz guitar. He also worked on films by Spanish director Carlos Saura, notably appearing in his 1983 version of Carmen, which won a UK Bafta award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. Paying tribute to a "very special musician", fellow Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco Pena, 71, said: "Once in a while someone comes along in a musical discipline who changes everything, who sees things that others have not seen up to that point, and Paco de Lucia was one of these people. After him, flamenco radically changed and the proof is that so many young people have taken his lead and now flamenco is full of that virtuosity."
De Lucia was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on December 21st, 1947, the son of flamenco guitarist Antonio Sanchez, who was of Gypsy origin. He took his stage name in honour of his mother, Lucia Gomes. He started playing the guitar from the age of five. "My family grew up with the Gypsies," the guitarist was quoted as saying in a 1994 article in Guitar Player.
"My father and all my brothers played guitar, so before I picked it up, before I could speak, I was listening. Before I started to play, I knew every rhythm of the flamenco. I knew the feeling and the meaning of the music, so when I started to play, I went directly to the sound I had in my ear." At the age of 18 he recorded his first album in Madrid. One of the great musical partnerships of his life was with the singer Camaron de la Isla, who died in 1992. The two men recorded albums in the 1970s, which inspired a New Flamenco movement.
In 2004, Paco de Lucia was awarded Spain's prestigious Asturias Prize for Art as the "most universal of flamenco artists". The jury said at the time: "His style has been a beacon for young generations and his art has made him into one of the best ambassadors of Spanish culture in the world." Among those he worked with outside Spain was British guitarist John McLaughlin.