The 66-year-old virtuoso, as happy playing seemingly
impossible syncopated flamenco rhythms as he was improvising
jazz or classical guitar, helped to legitimize flamenco in Spain
itself at a time when it was shunned by the mainstream.
"I learned the guitar like a child learns to speak," the
guitarist said in a 2012 documentary.
Born Francisco Sanchez Gomez, he became famous in the 1970s
after recording bestselling album "Entre Dos Aguas", becoming
the first flamenco musician to perform at Madrid's opera house
Teatro Real in 1975.
Paco's albums such as "El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucia" and
"Almoraima" reinvented traditional flamenco.
He toured extensively with well known international artists and
played with the likes of Carlos Santana and Al Di Meola, happy
to expand flamenco rhythms into jazz, although that upset
"It has been said, and rightly so, that Paco de Lucia has never
been surpassed by anyone and guitar playing today would not be
understood without his revolutionary figure," Spain's arts
association SGAE said in a statement.
De Lucia went on to record flamenco jazz fusion with Di Meola
and John McLaughlin in a series of now legendary concerts, and
also recorded with Chick Corea.
He was highly acclaimed after playing Joaquin de Rodrigo's "Concierto
de Aranjuez" at London's Festival Hall in 1991, attended by the
composer himself, and considered one of the best interpretations
of the piece.
De Lucia memorised the piece by ear as he did not read music,
and gave it a distinctive flamenco flavor.
"With the guitar I've suffered a great deal, but when I've had a
good time, the suffering seemed worthwhile," he said in the
He also formed a partnership in the 1970s with singer Camaron de
la Isla which played a large part in creating the New Flamenco
A spokesman for the city hall in Algeciras, where de Lucia was
born, confirmed his death and said the city had decreed two days
of official mourning.
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo de
Miguel and Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Fiona Ortiz, Angus MacSwan
and Michael Roddy)
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