Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, who blended the flamenco sound of his native land with jazz and other genres that attracted a new generation of fans, has died at the age of 66 of an apparent heart attack.
A government official in de Lucia\’s hometown of Algeciras, Spain says the musician died Tuesday after he fell ill on a beach while with his family in Cancun, Mexico. Algeciras will observe several days of official mourning in is memory.
De Lucia began his career as a teenager in the 1960s when he formed a popular duo with the late flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla, a pairing that launched the New Flamenco movement. He later joined forces with American jazz guitarists John McLaughlin and Al di Meola, producing the best-selling 1981 album "Friday Night in San Francisco."
De Lucia was awarded his country\’s prestigious Asturius Prize for the Arts in 2004.
From the age of just 12 de Lucia was out playing and earning at flamenco "tablaos" — the intimate, smoky bars that are home to the authentic form of the tragic gypsy lament and dancing.
By 15 he had moved to Madrid and by 18 brought out a first album.
It was there that he met another gifted teenage flamenco artist, the singer Camaron de la Isla, then just 15 and freshly arrived in Madrid.
The two young men formed a legendary flamenco partnership, touring and recording together until Camaron\’s death from cancer in 1992.
In 2004, de Lucia was awarded Spain\’s prestigious Asturias Prize for Art as the "most universal of flamenco artists".
"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," the jury said at the time.
He had lived elsewhere in Spain and in Mexico and toured widely, notably in the United States.
In the 1980s de Lucia teamed up with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al di Meola to produce the classic album "Friday night in San Francisco".
Source: VOA and agencies