Paco de Lucía, Soaring Kite of Flamenco, Dead at 66

Our civilization lost a shining light, as guitarist Paco de Lucía has died of a heart attack in Mexico

Trail Blazer and Traditionalist was 66

With fluid fingering, a flare for the dramatic, and compositions that flit and flutter like birds over a pastoral valley, or soar like eagles atop the winds of the world, de Lucía was among the most highly regarded guitarists of the twentieth century. Among the vanguard of the New Flamenco movement, he was instrumental in the evolution of Latin Fusion through the 1970s and 80s, going on to be an elder ambassador of music, doing for Flamenco guitar what Ravi Shankar had done for the sitar, popularize it around the globe.

Born Francisco Sánchez Gomes, as a teenager Paco recorded traditional Flamenco albums and toured with dancer José Greco. But it was his collaborations in the 1970s with many artists beyond the Spanish-speaking world and his appearance in Carlos Saura’s 1983 film adaptation of Carmen, set among a Spanish Flamenco troupe, which exposed a wider audience to the guitarist’s phenomenal talents. His concerts and recording with American Jazz guitarist Al Di Meola and Britain John McLaughlin, in duets and as The Guitar Trio, shall inspire awe and joy after they and we are long gone.

And I mourn our loss of Paco, and send my best wishes of peace to his family.

Fortunately we have a large collection of recordings and live concerts preserved on film and video. There is already an aging generation of guitarists who owe their life’s path to the slender fingers and brilliant imagination of Paco de Lucía, and they in turn are inspiring young guitarists to embrace traditional technique and composition, while daring to seek out new directions through experimentation and improvisation.

Here then is the master himself, playing one of my favorite compositions from his younger days, followed by one selection as an older man, recorded just over a year ago, and then some jaw dropping performances as a member of The Guitar Trio. I remain amazed how di Meola achieves lightening fast playing with a flat pick, while Paco remains true to classic Flamenco technique, using only bare fingers with a touch of fingernail, and McLaughlin uses his own hybrid approach.

R.I.P. Paco, y gracias por la música!

Rio Ancho – 1970s

Bulerías por Soleá – 2012

The Guitar Trio  – Guardian Angel 1981

Guitar Trio Reunion – Mediterranean Sun Dance 1996


And thanks to Mick Baker for the following, which captures the mastery and dignity of the maestro
Orquestra de Cadaqués – Concierto de Aranjuez 1991

You can see the entire Concierto here

2 thoughts on “Paco de Lucía, Soaring Kite of Flamenco, Dead at 66

    1. Thanks Mick! I listen to Gil Evans’ version with Miles Davis all the time.

      I am adding this to the videos at the end of the tribute, as I was focusing on the flash and vibrancy, but this video really captures the artistry, mastery, and dignity of the man and his music.

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