Manitas de Plata (1921-2014)
Words by Pierre Perrone
Flamboyant French flamenco guitarist Nicknamed the ‘Hands of Silver’, the flamenco guitarist became the first world music superstar two decades before the expression was even coined. The darling of the 60s jet set, he entertained Brigitte Bardot, Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, and took his inspired reinvention of the Manouche jazz into Carnegie Hall, eventually headlining the famed New York venue 14 times.
He sold close to 100 million albums but never learned to read or write. In the late 80s, the crossover genre he had helped originate enjoyed a renaissance with the Gipsy Kings, featuring his son Tonino as lead guitarist. Chico and the Gypsies, comprises another of his sons, Kema, and one of his nephews. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
This obituary originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 (#105) edition.