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Home Culture Pepe de Lucía, singer: “When Paco and I were children, and we were always together, even the cockroaches were pretty” | Culture

Pepe de Lucía, singer: “When Paco and I were children, and we were always together, even the cockroaches were pretty” | Culture

by News Room
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José Sánchez Gómez, Pepe de Lucía (Algeciras, 79 years old), flamenco legend, is tall, with dark skin and bright eyes. It is Sunday, February 18 and the singer and producer is in a good mood. He has days, they say around him, that are truly dark. Today he is not one of them. He has arrived in Madrid and the next day he will leave for New York. “I miss Madrid incredibly,” he says while ordering a bottle of water. “It’s something that has no explanation: every time I get here I breathe differently, I feel differently, I think differently. “I am different.” Every day of his life, every day, he says, he listens to his brother Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla. “We were the Team A: Paco, Camarón, Tomate and me.”

It has been 10 years since the sudden death in Mexico, victim of a heart attack, of Pepe de Lucía’s soul mate, Paco de Lucía. They Recover (the album Pepito and Paquito) flamenco songs recorded when Paco was 11 years old and Pepe was 13, an exhibition of genius and talent that is shocking to hear. And Pepe de Lucía, who measures his appearances in the press, agrees to speak for an hour with EL PAÍS. About what?. “Whatever you ask. For example, how I got here. My father with two small children in a coal machine, sitting on stick seats in third gear. He would stop the train in Bobadilla and we would hear: ‘There is soda, Citronia, Coca-Cola, sandwich.’ ‘Don’t worry, mom has put food in the bag here,’ he told us.” The three of them, in their fifties, stayed in a boarding house on Santa Isabel Street in Madrid; Every morning they went out to make a living, going from promoter to promoter without luck (“The children are very small”; “Censorship is very bad”) and ending the days in their room eating cheese and quince, the father in a bed and the children hugging each other to keep warm.

Ask. And one day they went to José Luis Pecker’s program.

Answer. We sang there to death and Paco played a scandal. They gave us a meccano and a train. My father quickly thought of José María Pardo, a guitarist who always went with Valderrama and my brother Ramón, and we took the Meccano and the train to his house, on Mesón de Paredes Street. His two sons kept them and we ate for a week.

P. And they go to a luxury two-story restaurant to play, at the insistence of their father.

R. Many people from high society went there. The owner was Félix, who told us to sit in a little chair and sing and that was no problem. And the clients were leaving us money. One day a charming woman arrived whose face and smile I will never forget: the great Nati Mistral. When she saw us, she opened her eyes as if amazed at what we were doing, at how Paco played and how I sang, and she gave us 6,000 pesetas that she gave us to eat on Echegaray Street for a week. And last longer in Madrid.

I was running away from school. I did not like it. And Paco the same”

P. He went to New York.

R. One day José Greco arrived and told us: I’m taking the child to New York. One week, to do a show important. When I arrived in New York I went up to the room at the Bristol Hotel and there I saw little stars like when you hit a big floor with a blow: the skyscrapers at night. When I went down to dinner, Greco told me: “Pepe, I’m going to introduce you to a friend of mine.” A guy dressed in black, with a white shirt, strong: Rocky Marciano. Absolute boxing legend, friend of the New York mafia.

Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla were united by a close friendship that materialized in 36 songs.Pepe Lamarca (Quipos Press)

P. Dazzled.

R. Dazzled. Especially when I returned to the United States and, in the middle of the tour, Greco told me in Chicago that my brother Paco was coming with us. And Paco with me… I told him when he arrived: “This one, that one and that one have behaved badly with me.” And he took the guitar and went to talk to them because Paco was very quiet, but a physical beast: he swam in Algeciras for miles and miles. He made them all stand up, we were kids.

P. They were in Tijuana.

R. We ate there with a woman who invited us to her house, a woman with white hair, a white apron and an angel’s face, an older woman. And there was a very large picture of a man there. “And who is that man?” “That man is Pancho Villa. He is my husband “. Later I found out that Pancho Villa had several wives.

A key name in Los Lucía is the guitarist and lyricist Antonio Sánchez Pecina, married to Lucía Gómez González, who gave his name to the saga. He had three jobs. He had a reputation for being authoritarian and harsh; 30 years after his death, Pepe de Lucía says that it is a lie: he liked him, yes, perfection. “My father, at night, with very serious hemorrhoids, and I could hear him crying, he would get ready and pick up his guitar, put on his beret and go to find a life at a cabaret called El Pasaje Andaluz. Once, in a fight, they broke my father’s guitar, and he came home crying. He had a greengrocer in the square. And in the afternoon he acted as a broker, and sold fabrics. He played the bandurria, he had a group called Los Chocleros. It wasn’t an easy life. But do you know what I think? I think about simplicity, that savoring life as I savored it with my mother in the morning: these are experiences that taught me that there is nothing greater than honesty and humility.”

Pepe de Lucía, in February in Madrid.Alvaro Garcia

P. His father was an orphan.

R. He was orphaned at the age of ten. He lived in a hut alone. He told me about it when he was very old, crying his eyes out. “I am very unfortunate, son. I lived in a hut alone. I went to a barracks with a can to ask for food, so that the soldiers would throw me out. A woman kept the stale bread for me and then I went to sleep in the hut. Scared to death because he was ten years old and he was going to pull the codend, the rope, the fish to see what they would give me. They didn’t even give me anything, a real or anything. And with that I was pulling, I was pulling.” He was a man who suffered so much as a child that I truly praise him. And because of him we were what we are and we are nothing. But anyway: we were what we are.

P. Look, he traveled to New York when he was 13 years old. And she’s back now.

R. I was running away from school. I did not like it. And Paco the same. One day my father discovered me and went to talk to the teacher, and when he returned he told us that we weren’t going to school anymore: if you don’t want to study, learn to play the guitar.

P. They were poor and happy.

R. My mother sent me to Venancio, who trusted us with everything. “A quarter of a kilo of sugar, a little colored butter and that’s it.” “Well, take a little bit of this and also this and I’ll write it down here.” Venancio knew that there was so much hunger that he entrusted everything to all of us, and he couldn’t even pay the suppliers: he ended up hanging himself in the Palmones River. I later became friends with his children. I shudder telling this.

A few weeks ago Pepe de Lucía was seeing Tomate at the Maestranza Theater. He had Niña Pastori and Macanita as guests. Tomate dedicated the concert to him and to the memory of his brother Paco. “Everyone taking photos with me and giving me the spot,” he says. “But I don’t want that anymore. I go into my house and I don’t go out all day. I like to make myself eat. I live alone, I cook very well, I learned to cook to feed my brother, I learned to wash to wash my brother’s white underwear with palomino (laughs), to wash his handkerchiefs, to wash his shirts, his T-shirts , to wash his usual clothes.” It has Paco de Lucía, universal genius, always present. They were the little ones at home, inseparable. “I have it with me. At night I keep him in mind and I always ask him to help me, to help me be here a little longer so I can fix something that can be fixed. We played when we were little. We would go with my father and mother to the movies and then we would come home and find the whole house full of cockroaches, and even the cockroach was pretty at that time.” Pepe de Lucía sings a lot about beauty. His and his brother Paco’s. He couldn’t take the guitar off of him. He told me: “Pelleja (he called me Pelleja), what you have to do is stop going. If dad tells you to put your right hand, don’t put it. She alone is going to stand up straight, she alone is going to stand up straight and when you least realize it you are going to play the guitar without realizing it, like a madman, like a beast. I looked at him and didn’t say anything. One day he discovered how he ate the left hand, and how the right hand; he had incredible strength. I didn’t reach that limit, he was outstanding, something impressive.”

Pepe de Lucía pays tribute to his brother one day before the Seville Flamenco Biennial, on September 11, 2014.Marcelo del Pozo (Reuters)

P. What is the first memory you have of Camarón de la Isla?

R. Bambino’s palmer, Pepe, calls me: “I have a boy here who is stopping by my house. Do you want to hear it tomorrow?” I lived on O’Donnell Street. I call Rafael de Córdoba, a singer friend of mine, Rafael de Huelva, and we’re going to listen to him. I arrive at the Plaza de Cascorro and he appears in a blue suit with his very handsome little hair, his gorgeous face. “My name is Shrimp.” And I say: “Come on, let’s go to the bar next door in Cascorro”, a bar there, on the side on the right. And there he started singing a little por soleá and I dropped the shadowjo palos. I ran to Illustration Street to tell my father and my brother Paco, to tell them what I had seen.

We are, we were, Paco, Camarón, Tomate and I: we got into the studio and did true wonders. Incredible albums because Camarón was from another planet”

P. And he composed it.

R. I’ve already started composing it. Tomate said at his concert that I was the best he had composed for him, and he filled me with pride in those words from a brother like Tomate, because he has lived it with us. We are, we were, Paco, Camarón, Tomate and I: we got into the studio and did true wonders. Incredible albums because Camarón was from another planet, from another galaxy. That’s why fate took him away so soon.


R. He was so shy, so withdrawn. He didn’t laugh because he was embarrassed.

P. Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla.

R. Paco couldn’t stand being without Camarón. He was very sad about that. He couldn’t get Camarón out of his head.

P. And you lost them both.

R. When Paco died they told me that I had one eye on one side and one on the other. That has only been seen in comics. My vision was blocked. In fact, I was driving to the funeral and my friend José de Andújar stopped me, and he told me “Stop because you are lurching.” And I haven’t stopped suffering. But life is also suffering too. It’s not that it’s morbid, but it teaches you a lot.

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