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Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

Paco de Lucia biography books 

Have you read any of the Paco's biography books and what did you think of them?

I've read "Paco de Lucía: El hijo de la portuguesa" by JJT and the one written by Russel deMaria. Obviously very different approaches let's say.

I have the feeling that available books are mostly written for hard core fans, so people who already follow and know something about Paco and his life and work, and want to dive into almost all details available on the subject. But I am not sure they will be particularly engaging to others. Do you have any opinion on this?

What motivated me to ask this question and write this post is a biography book I recently read about a Croatian singer I really like, and I found it quite enjoyable and to the point, even though it's around 200 pages long. I really joyed it very much as a hard core fan, but I also think it would be very enjoyable to someone who does not know anything about him and is just curious to learn about life and work of the guy, and about what made him so distinctive and successful.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 7 2024 22:54:47
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14971
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

I don’t find any to be especially interesting vs. interviews in public media, and of course the 4 video documentaries (Rito, Light and Shade, Francisco Sanchez, La Busqueda). The problem I have with books is the authors, unlike film directors, can’t freaking help themselves but to make opinionated comments about this album, track, here and there. The worst was Donn Pohren, whose opinions were so pervasive I had to put the book down out of frustration at one point. There was a book by Paco Sevilla that was a bit better, but again, I can do without opinions of the music.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 8 2024 12:02:34
 
Mark2

Posts: 1891
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

The thing that bothered me about Paco Sevilla's book was that he didn't interview Paco. IMO it makes little sense to write a bio about a living person without talking to them. I never read Pohren's. I got the sense from reading his other books that he wasn't a huge fan.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 8 2024 16:50:40
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

I liked Pohren’s books until his Paco bio, and even parts of that weren’t bad. I haven't read those books in many years, so I might feel differently now. It was the first I’d read about Paco's father and the rest of his family. Other books with that information might have been published earlier, but my impression at the time was that it was the first telling of his story (aside from articles in newspapers and magazines). I liked the way Pohren presented the father’s story first. What I didn’t like, even at the time, was his thinly veiled contempt for modern flamenco and his attempt to be funny about it. He wrote something like, “They shouldn’t call it flamenco fusion. Maybe some other name like FLAMFUSE,” in capitals. Also, I got the impression that Paco didn’t collaborate closely with him or at all on that book. There’s a photo on the back cover of the two of them, standing outside the door to someone’s apartment (maybe Paco’s, because he’s wearing a track suit), and it doesn’t look like they were particularly close. Just speculation on my part. Because of the irreverence and other things, I felt that Pohren had lost his writing skills by the time he published that book. And the lack of substance and depth in the part about Paco made it a big disappointment for me.

Like I said, I liked his other books, because I never took them seriously as research. In my opinion, he did a good job of taking inventory of what was available in the early 1960s: “Arte y artistas flamencos” by Fernando el de Triana (the old one with all the photos), “Colección de cantes flamencos” by Demófilo (Antonio Machado y Álvarez), others I’m not remembering now, and even “Cantaores andaluces” by Núñez de Prado. I say “even” because, last I heard, it’s not taken seriously, but it was first published in 1904, so that’s worth taking into account. (Hey, I’ve just found it available online for free: https://tiendaeditorial.uca.es/descargas-pdf/8460047989-completo.pdf.) Pohren’s first book “The Art of Flamenco” was published in 1962, a year before “Mundo y Formas” by Mairena and Molina, who actually cited him in their book, although they did so to reject something Pohren had written. So, there wasn’t much available for Pohren to draw on for his first books, but he provided a lot of information on historic artists in “Lives and Legends” (1964). Things really got rolling around that time, so I see him as a sort of pioneer. But his Paco biography could have been much better.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 8 2024 19:04:23
 
Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

I don’t find any to be especially interesting vs. interviews in public media, and of course the 4 video documentaries

Yeah, same feeling here.


quote:

IMO it makes little sense to write a bio about a living person without talking to them

I see the point. But I still think that a great biographical book could be written based on all other resources.


I have Pohren's book, but never read it though.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 8 2024 22:46:25
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14971
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Norman Paul Kliman

quote:

And the lack of substance and depth in the part about Paco made it a big disappointment for me.


Agreed. The black and white photos were the thing that gave the Pohren book value IMO. That flamfuse comment was so ridiculous, and it was in regards to Almoraima and/or Siroco, where the only piece he liked was La Barrosa because it reminded him of Carmen Amaya and Sabicas! So that one piece was flamenco and the rest of it is jazz fusion. Wow.

Pohren is important as the ONLY English language source on the subject you can find in say public libraries in USA. I will restate this…the ONLY English language source in a library was this 1962 book, as of 1990s! One of my favorite comments from Pohren was in A Way of Life I believe, he says that he thought it pretentious that Jerezano cantaores refused to work with Moron guitarists (for him ridiculous since they are the greatest example of flamenco guitar in all Andalucia), with the exception of Diego himself. So we have an army of USA hippies that know All about flamenco, and that means Moron style, the one and only thing you need.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 9 2024 12:56:01
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

Well said, Richard. The experiences I’ve had with some Moronies always reminded me of the stories you hear about overzealous mairenistas (as opposed to the more moderate maireneros). David Serva wasn’t like that, because he lived here, but others were, because they didn’t.

And speaking of outdated and out of touch, Pohren’s books today are like that in many ways, and I think the first edition of his first book would cause an even worse impression if we could see it. Maybe someone has access to it and can comment. I don’t remember how or when, but I was able to read some of it, and one thing I do remember clearly is a warning aimed at young gypsy artists about the dangers of modern life. He darkly concluded: “drag racing awaits them.” Drag racing! Do kids today even know what that was? Did kids in Spain ever know what that was? Was that ever going to be a thing in Spain? Like I said, I still have some respect for what he did, although it decreased dramatically after he practically spat at me when I mentioned research of cantes (mentioned in a recent post).

Back on topic, Juan José Tellez wrote two Paco bios. I think there’s some kind of controversy or acrimony surrounding them, but I don’t really know.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 9 2024 17:05:57
 
Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Norman Paul Kliman

quote:

Back on topic, Juan José Tellez wrote two Paco bios. I think there’s some kind of controversy or acrimony surrounding them, but I don’t really know.

I am not familiar with any controversy about it, and I've read it but I find it not particularly interesting.

There are also two new books, El Enigma Paco de Lucia and Paco de Lucía, el primer flamenco ilustrado. The first one is shorter and has some good reviews, I've just got the kindle version and I'm gonna start reading it tonight.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 9 2024 21:32:26
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

quote:

I am not familiar with any controversy about it,


My bad. Pretty sure I confused the Tellez bio with another about Camarón by a different author.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 10 2024 17:39:56
 
Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

I've finished reading "El Enigma Paco de Lucia". Overall I think it's a nice book, it's easy to read and there are some details that I did not know before. It was obvious while reading that the guy who wrote it had access to people close to Paco and to private material (videos, photos), which was indeed confirmed at the end of the book. I think that the author also successfully refrained from giving his opinions about Paco's work, only some general known things.

The book opens with overview of Paco's interview with Jesus Quintero, and the first part of the book is about that period and first years of Paco's marige with Casilda. Paco's story is therefore not told in the chronological order. Another thing is that there are several sections concentrated on people with whom Paco worked or who had influenced him, for example Jose Greco, Sabicas, Niño Ricardo, Falla, Montoya, Camaron, and others. Personally, apart form the story about Falla, Falla's relationship to flamenco and why Paco did that album, these sections were not really interesting or imho did not have to do much with Paco's life (at least not directly of course). Another thing is that some events which are described in other sources were not given much space although they were very significant for Paco's carer (for example that Sabicas' advice which is only mentioned in one sentence), I guess because these are covered extensively elsewhere.

The highlight of the book for me is the end, which describes in many details Paco's last day, I presume based on Gabriela's and Juan D'Anyelica's account, both whom were with Paco in the hospital when he passed away. I knew some basic details before from documentaries and interviews (as told by Gabriela), but the book describes much more and that story was incredibly emotional and made me really sad.

Overall, nice book, but sadly I don't think this one is a definitive stand-alone biography.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 24 2024 5:21:06
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

quote:

The highlight of the book for me is the end, which describes in many details Paco's last day, I presume based on Gabriela's and Juan D'Anyelica's account, both whom were with Paco in the hospital when he passed away. I knew some basic details before from documentaries and interviews (as told by Gabriela), but the book describes much more and that story was incredibly emotional and made me really sad.


Is your version of the book in Spanish or English? Is it the source of this account of his passing, taken from his Wikipedia entry?

quote:

De Lucía died of a heart attack on 25 February 2014, while on holiday with his family in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. While playing soccer with his son on the beach, he asked his wife to take him to the hospital because he felt a "strange coolness in his throat." He was taken to a hospital and was able to enter the emergency room on his own, but had to be helped into a gurney. Soon after, he lost consciousness and died.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paco_de_Luc%C3%ADa#Death

The Spanish Wikipedia entry has slightly different information. The footnote indicates it was published in Spain the day after his passing:

quote:

Falleció a consecuencia de un infarto cardíaco, el martes 25 de febrero de 2014, en Playa del Carmen. Según diversas fuentes, jugaba en la playa con sus hijos cuando empezó a sentirse mal. El artista murió en el área de urgencias del hospital Hospiten, al que llegó con un fuerte dolor en el tórax. Había dejado de fumar dos semanas antes de su deceso.


https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paco_de_Luc%C3%ADa#Fallecimiento

(...arrived at the hospital with sharp pain in his thorax...) Dictionaries define thorax as the part below the neck and above the waist.


Mind you, I’ve never liked morbid details, especially when people revel in telling them. But this is Paco. I’m interested in everything about him and I assume the rest of you are, too. A few weeks ago, I read that extract in English from his Wikipedia entry and wondered where it came from.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 24 2024 7:22:01
 
Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

quote:

Is your version of the book in Spanish or English? Is it the source of this account of his passing, taken from his Wikipedia entry?


The book is in Spanish. The Wikipedia entry doesn't give much details except the place and cause of death. I believe that in one of the short documentaries published in recent years Gabriela talks about something similar, or maybe it was in an interview that I read, I can't remember exactly. I remember that it was said that Paco told Gabriela about "frio raro en la garganta" and asked to be taken to the hospital.
The book however tells much more of that story and his day prior to that damn hearth attack. And since the account in the book had a lot of going on, and Gabriela and Juan were the only people with Paco that day (except with his kids), I imagine it was them who described that day in details to the book author, who later included it in the book.

Btw, maybe I am wrong for whatever reason and need to think about it, but I did not find that story morbid. For me I said it was a highlight because it was incredibly emotional reading it and thinking about Paco in that moment.

P.S. I intentionally did not give more details about what is described in the book, thinking that you would be interested in reading it yourself. But if you want, I could expand on that.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 24 2024 23:25:07
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

quote:

Btw, maybe I am wrong for whatever reason and need to think about it, but I did not find that story morbid. For me I said it was a highlight because it was incredibly emotional reading it and thinking about Paco in that moment.


Oh, I used the word morbid because of my post, not because of yours or that part of the book. I thought it might seem morbid of me to want to discuss the exact details of his death. For example, I think it would be kind of creepy/distasteful to discuss the final hours of Camarón or Manuel Parrilla, just to name two who went down slow. Paco's death is different because it was quick and unexpected.

quote:

I remember that it was said that Paco told Gabriela about "frio raro en la garganta"


That's the part I was wondering about.

quote:

P.S. I intentionally did not give more details about what is described in the book, thinking that you would be interested in reading it yourself. But if you want, I could expand on that.


Yeah, thanks, I'd like to read your impressions and any information you want to share.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date May 25 2024 8:29:10
 
Filip

 

Posts: 428
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

quote:

Yeah, thanks, I'd like to read your impressions and any information you want to share.


Sorry for the delay. Sure, I'll summarise below (the lines) the info from the last chapter of the book. As I said, some things there were known to me but most not. Also, some things are different than what I've read before (e.g., about going to the hospital)

---------

On his last tour in South America Paco reportedly felt tired and had to use oxygen mask at a couple of cities in high altitude. After the tour, in January, he went to Cuba with his family where he planned to buy a house and move. When Felix Grande died (end of January), Paco quit smoking but was very anxious and was taking pills to overcome it. In a few weeks though he decided to get back to Mexico because he felt nervous and was not in a good mood. They came back to Mexico just two days before he passed away.

On the day he passed, Paco got up earlier in the morning and took a walk, during which he found a broken umbrella and took it home with the idea of repairing it. He took a swim, and in the afternoon he was expecting Juan D'Anlyelica to help him with some things in the studio. Paco told Juan to bring some fish as well as he wanted to prepare ceviche.

Earlier in the afternoon Paco was alone with his son playing football at the beach when Gabriela and their daughter came. At that moment Paco told Gabriela that he does not feel very feel and he thinks he caught cold. He felt very cold and wanted to go to the house.
In the house he took a warm shower and was feeling chest pain, and also pain stretching from his left arm to the throat. Gabriela noticed that Paco looked bad and asked to take him to the hospital, which is a bit less than half an hour from their home.

In the car, Gabriela asked Paco if it could be a hearth attack, but Paco just nodded with his head without saying anything. Juan was already at the hospital when Paco and Gabriela arrived. Paco still felt cold and was sweating, he put a jacket on, and even asked in the emergency room to turn off the AC. They were waiting more than fifteen minutes in the emergency without any doctor appearing, and when doctors finally arrived at that moment Paco lost consciousness. A reanimation has been tried without success.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2024 4:47:21
 
Norman Paul Kliman

 

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec. 5 2023
 

RE: Paco de Lucia biography books (in reply to Filip

Thanks, Filip. Very interesting, and heartbreaking, too: little details like him wanting to repair the umbrella...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2024 6:14:59
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