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Why doesn't Paco de Lucía have a successor?


Highlights: Five of the seven guitarists who accompanied him on his tours explain why his figure is unrepeatable. The search for the heir, never the heressiress, is arguably another topic, but arguably never as important. Paco de Lucía died on February 25, 2014, the day he died at the age of 66. With everyone, except for Ramón, who died in 2009, and José Jiménez, El Viejín, who has not given statements, Babelia spoke to find out why.

On the tenth anniversary of his death, five of the seven guitarists who accompanied him on his tours explain why his figure is unrepeatable

At the beginning it was the father, Antonio Sánchez Pecino.

Then, his brother, Ramón, who before leaving for military service inherited the task of teaching and protecting a little guitar player who would end up being the best flamenco guitarist of all time.

César Suárez remembers it in one of the latest biographies published about him,

El enigma Paco de Lucía

(Lumen, 2024), where it is explained, among other things, that the evolution was so rapid that in a few years Ramón de Algeciras went from being a teacher to be second guitarist for his brother, nine years younger.

Hotel, before a concert, in Badajoz (2012).GABRIELA CANSECO VALLEJO

Studio photo in Palma de Mallorca for the album 'Canción Andaluza' (2013).GABRIELA CANSECO VALLEJO

Marciac Concert (2012).


Sound test in Marciac (2012).



Plaza Alta, Algeciras (2011).


He was the first of the latter, a role played by six other musicians who were part, at different stages, of one of the bands that the author of 'Entre dos aguas' put together to give his recitals around the world.

With everyone, except for Ramón, who died in 2009, and José Jiménez,

El Viejín,

who has not given statements,


spoke to find out why, 10 years after his death, Paco de Lucía still has no successor.

And they have been searching for him since February 25, 2014, the day he died at the age of 66.

The weight of responsibility

The giftedness that the brother detected is one of the qualities of Paco de Lucía that the interviewees highlight.

But before continuing, what is a second guitarist?

“It is a very important role because you maintain the rhythm, the main axis of what is performed, and it means that you withdraw so that the soloist can display all his art,” summarizes Juan Manuel Cañizares, who in the nineties formed a trio of guitars with José María Bandera and Paco de Lucía, with whom he shared 10 years on stage.

He, who was already a soloist then, recognizes that “it was a lot of responsibility, because we are talking about clockwork musical levels, millimeter levels of rhythm.”

The dimension of that responsibility is understood even better when you listen to the speed at which Paco de Lucía played, although as Dani de Morón, who accompanied him on the tour of the

Cositas buenos

album , remembers, none of his dizzying stops were free, they were at the service of composition and expressiveness.

Cañizares expands: “he nuanced the phrases as he wanted, he was like a magician.

It was something very genuine and then, the soul that he put into each note.

Because the grade has to be given, but that is only half of this story, the other half is singing it.

And I have seen few musicians with that level.”

Niño Josele explains the same thing in a very simple way: “Paco sang with the guitar.”

For this reason, this Almería guitarist, who spent a decade performing with the maestro, decided to accompany him as he had accompanied Rancapino or Enrique Morente in the past: as if he were a singer.

In this way, Niño Josele was looking for his own way of doing things, but also to avoid comparisons.

Therefore, when asked what he thought when he read a headline from EL PAÍS in which Chick Corea pointed him out as Paco de Lucía's successor, he answers: “I thought he was going to ruin my life.”

The headline in question is from 2010. Paco de Lucía was still alive.

A total musician

The search for the heir, never the heiress, but that is another topic, has been a constant among journalists and fans these years, but arguably never among guitarists.

Even less among those who played with him, who affirm, without hesitation, that succeeding Paco de Lucía is impossible today.

They do this by giving musical arguments, not using words like “duende” or “genius”, which are empty if they are not explained.

In addition to the aforementioned musicality, Paco de Lucía's seconds speak of everything he contributed to the flamenco guitar.

“When the music began to be recorded digitally and you could see the wave on the screen, allowing you to modify the piece rhythmically, he altered it in a way... that changed the history of the guitar completely,” says Dani de Morón, who entered fully into his work at the age of 16, with


(Universal, 1998), and could not believe that the instrument he heard was the same one he played.

“Bulerías in A minor, some tangos in E flat... it was fascinating.”

Cañizares also talks about his compositions: “He raised the technical and artistic level of the flamenco guitar to an unprecedented height.

Each album is a new production, he applied a concept of production, of context, with a sense of work.

And doing that with a flamenco guitar is very difficult.”

Niño Josele remembers that this same artistic concern led De Lucía to mix flamenco with jazz, Brazilian music, Cuban music or get involved, as she did in her last album,

Canción andaluza

(Universal, 2014), with copla.

And the reason why he introduced the Peruvian cajon to flamenco or instruments as strange at that time as a harmonica.

With these elements he managed to give the guitar a role independent of singing and dancing, something that one of Paco de Lucía's idols, Sabicas, had already done by giving a place to the solo sonanta in the fifties of the 20th century.

But if the Navarrese made known to the American public that a flamenco guitar could fill a theater and a stage (and especially New York, where this week the Paco de Lucía Legacy Festival is being held as a tribute), the one from Algeciras extended that to the whole world.

He also contributed something of his own hands, one of those details that go unnoticed by the passing listener but that contributed to making Paco de Lucía unique: “Not only did he sing with the guitar, he had a way of accompanying, of strumming the bases that served as accompaniment to the others, so that he not only played the guitar but also acted as a percussionist,” explains José María Bandera, nephew and another of his seconds.

These are details that make him a detailed and complete musician, one who, without having studied music, was called “the Paganini of flamenco” (for his virtuosity) or, directly, Mozart, for the accumulation of skills that adorned him—thinking musically, composing , open paths or execute—and that carried out the practice at a level unattainable for the rest.

Paco de Lucía's dressing room on a tour of France in 2011. GABRIELA CANSECO VALLEJO

The best conductor

But when his players talk about a teacher, they are not only referring to his musical abilities, since they all tell anecdotes from which a leader can be inferred.

The way he chose his second guitarists is an example that also speaks of a constant concern.

He saw Cañizares play when he was 13, praised him and didn't lose track of him until he called him almost ten years later to ask him to come with him.

“Paco received recordings from all over the place, he was aware of what we were all doing,” explains the musician from Sabadell about a facet that reflects that, despite his well-known shyness, he was not a solipsistic artist.

He did the same with Niño Josele: “I was a kid, I played him a little soleá, his favorite palo, and he told my father that if I continued playing like that, he was going to give me a guitar and take me with him.

It took him 20 years, but he did it.”

One click of the ear was enough for Paco de Lucía to know if a kid had something to say with the six strings: “One day he gave me the chords of 'Entre dos aguas' so I could learn them.

Then, he asked me if I knew the tune of one of his songs, he asked me to play it and after listening to me, he told me: 'Tell your mother that you're coming to Ronda,' Bandera recalls about the first time he played with his uncle, at 14 years old.

On stage, more teachings.

“Every night she was a


,” explains Cañizares.

And benevolence.

“Her figure was very imposing, he knew it.

For me, when he made a mistake on stage he would tell me: 'Ole, Jose Mari' and he would laugh.

I got angry, but that spurred me on.

He didn't make that mistake anymore.

He had a lot of psychology,” says Bandera.

Antonio Sánchez, another of the seconds and also a nephew, affirms that his personal relationship with his musicians was very important for his uncle, who despite being a very perfectionist, was not harsh: “he let us fly.” .

Another recent biography, Paco de Lucía

, gives a good account of this character .

The first illustrated flamenco,

by Manuel Alonso Escacena (Almuzara, 2024).

These pages contain statements from the guitarist's first wife, Casilda Varela, in which she speaks of “a superlative intelligence” and also of a man who never said “I played well today.”

Niño Josele confirms it: “The first year I played with him we did 108 concerts.

Only one came out in accordance with himself.”

The measuring stick was Paco de Lucía, which is why Antonio Sánchez wants to highlight among his qualities something that has rarely been taken for granted in flamenco artists: “He was a person with a mental order and a daily routine that I have not seen nobody.

His perseverance and his discipline left a huge mark on me.”

Niño Josele agrees, but believes that there were two Pacos: “He was always formal with work, but I got to play with him in 2004 and from what colleagues who had been there before told me, he was already calmer in life, more reflective.” , even more concentrated than when he created the sextet,” explains the man from Almería in reference to the first group with which he toured the world and which included his brothers Pepe de Lucía and Ramón de Algeciras;

in addition to Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent and Rubén Dantas.

“Paco was aware that he had to be emotionally close to us because on stage everyone depends on everyone, and that good communication is reflected in the performance,” remembers Cañizares and Niño Josele shares a car trip through France that the two of them took alone, going from one concert to another at the request of Paco de Lucía.

“I thought he was going to say goodbye, but the reason was different: 'On stage you are Niño Josele, but I want to know who Juan José Heredia is.

Then, I will tell you things about Francisco Sánchez.”

Paco de Lucía, portrayed in Istanbul in 2011.GABRIELA CANSECO VALLEJO

An inexhaustible source

Before they could learn from him and admire him up close, Paco de Lucía had already been an inspiration to all of them.

“I tried singing and dancing, but when I was eight I saw it on TV and said: I want that,” recalls Niño Josele, who assures that everyone who plays the guitar today does so with him in mind.

Dani de Morón adds: “And the most interesting thing is that each of us saw a different 'Paco'.

I always say that the first album you listen to marks you as a guitarist.

For me it was


, which I have distilled down to the millimeter and yet, I always return to it when I have doubts.”

Cañizares reaffirms that quality of reference and also talks about how his genius does not exhaust itself, on the contrary, it shows more and more layers as the years go by.

“Only now am I beginning to realize things that when he died I still didn't fully understand: for example, how innovative and bold Paco was in his approach to flamenco guitar.

Now I better understand his genius in the fusion of styles and his way of expressing emotions through music.”

That is another reason that leads his deputies to reject the concept of successor.

How can there be if those who followed him have not yet fully understood and absorbed the work he left behind?

“There are those who say that the guitar finished with him, but it is not true.

I think that the figure of Paco de Lucía has left many corpses along the way, people who have insisted on simply copying him because he was the best.

But the truth is that he left the level very high and many people collecting his seeds.”

Delving into the figure of his companion in hundreds of concerts, Cañizares draws an interesting comparison: “If it were a book, I would tell you that Paco is Don


, not because of what he says or the protagonist, but because of how he covered the tradition of enormous guitarists. like Sabicas, Ramón Montoya… he gave it his own stamp, projected flamenco to the world and it became a classic.”

From that source, those interviewed say, everyone continues to drink.

“But that is not the same as being his successor.

That's impossible.

Paco is still unique,” ​​Niño Josele concludes excitedly.

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Source: elparis

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