In the 80s, Eric Clapton and Joan Baez fell in love with the Gipsy Kings' rumba-tinged, pop-inflected flamenco. And clearly, they weren't the only ones.
The first gypsy band to go gold in the USA, and with over 20 million albums sold worldwide, the group founded by Nicolas Reyes has become an icon in its 45-year history, making the whole planet dance to its legendary hits.
Their story began with a meeting between two families who shared a common passion.
It was love at first sight for Les Baliardo and Les Reyes, and the young band soon found themselves sitting by the fireside, singing along. At a time when gypsy music was still considered folklore, they decided to break away from their community's usual "entre-soi" and break down the doors of the music industry. And the success was worldwide!
Their guitars, tuned in unison, bring sunshine to even the darkest of places, and Nicolas Reyes' voice would warm even the coldest of hearts. Their music is uplifting, uplifting and universal, with elements of rock, Raï and Latin influences. The band takes its inspiration freely in a deluge of good humor that sweeps everything along in its path.
And if, over the years, internal quarrels have led to the departure of many members and, in some cases, to the founding of parallel groups, Gipsy Kings is just one. The group renews itself, seeking out new nuggets in its original families. Uncles, nephews, cousins, virtuosity seems to be written in their genes, as long as it's led by the emblematic Nicolas Reyes.
As lifelong guitarist Tonino Baliardo reminds us, "music has always been our passion". A spark that's still there, "even after all this time, after all these years of touring and working tirelessly". So rest assured, the band is still very much alive, touring the world and flying the gypsy flag!
It was in the 70s that the young cousins Reyes and Baliardo met. It was obvious to them that they were made to play their music together, a music reminiscent of the sunny plains of Spain. They formed Los Reyes, and in 1977 released their first album, Gitan poète, which reached the ears of a certain Brigitte Bardot. Completely won over by these free spirits, she invited them to play at her birthday party. It was the start of a promising career for those who would soon adopt their stage name, the Gipsy Kings.
It didn't take more than five minutes for the band to put the smile back on the faces of the small army of morose Parisians of which I was undoubtedly one. And no more than ten minutes for everyone to start dancing, carried away by the incredible energy that the Gipsy Kings always deliver on stage, and by the guitars and warm voice of Nicolas Reyes. A pure moment of pleasure and letting go, to imagine yourself under the starry skies of Catalonia.
You'd have to be living on another planet to have missed out on the Gipsy Kings phenomenon. All it takes is for someone to start the Bamboléo hook and it's in everyone's head for a few hours. Now that's catchy music! But the main achievement of Nicolas Reyes and his band is to have brought gypsy music out of the shadows and into the limelight with unrivalled virtuosity. When they play live, you can't help but dance to their hyperspeed rhythms and sing along to their choruses at the top of your lungs, and it's clearly a great feeling!
The Gipsy Kings don't wear helmets. Nor Saint Laurent suits. Yet they are the best-selling French group abroad since their first album, in 1982. [...] Often underestimated in France, the Gipsy Kings are the inventors of a musical genre of their own, a blend of Tonino Baliardo's flamenco playing and Nicolas Reyes' melancholy vocals. Returning to Paris this week, they aim to prove once again that their music is universal.