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‘South America was like Beatlemania for me, the girls were screaming, and I couldn’t go out anywhere in Argentina, Chile and Venezuela’– JOSÉ FELICIANO
• In February 1966, José Feliciano flew from New York to appear before seventeen thousand people at the Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina. He sang and played guitar and the crowd “almost went out of their minds”. The impact was so great that he was rushed into a local studio to create these, his first, Spanish-language recordings. All across Latin America these albums were smash hits, and the prelude to a successful international career.
• Influenced by Andres Segovia, Charlie Byrd, Luiz Bonfa and Ray Charles, José Feliciano is arguably the world’s greatest living guitarist. Born blind as a consequence of congenital glaucoma, he displayed musical promise in infancy and at just nine years of age decided on the guitar, the instrument which would make him a household name.
• Although major stardom in Latin America was secured in the mid-sixties, North American chart success would wait until the arrival, in 1968, of José’s extraordinary interpretation of The Doors’ anthem, ‘Light My Fire’. Composed by nineteen year old guitarist Robbie Krieger, the song is era-defining and is one of popular music’s purest and most enduring works of art. ‘It’s really a great feeling to have written a classic,’ said Krieger, ‘I think I owe a big debt to José Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on it.” José Feliciano’s summer hit reached No. 3 on the US singles Chart with domestic sales alone in excess of one million copies.
• José went on enjoy major hits with the US National Anthem ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, and ‘Feliz Navidad’. With Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, he was one of the first Latin artists to cross over into the North America mainstream, releasing over sixty-five albums, which have provided him with over forty-five gold and platinum albums, six Grammy awards and sixteen Grammy nominations.