The greatest of all singers


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SE has left with a fandango on his lips. As it were, singing, to lie down under a stone with his wife in a Madrid cemetery. At the age of 91, he recorded his latest album, ‘I’m still’, with the collaboration of, among others, Israel Férnandez, the promoter of that project, Vicente Amigo, Pepe Habichuela, Parrita, Guadiana, Duquende, Manuel Parrila, Diego Amador, Diego del Morao and countless first swords of the jondo genre. Antonio, whom everyone knew as El Rubio, founder of an entire dynasty, has died at the age of 95 at the Virgen de la Victoria Hospital in Malaga.

He has done it four years after that feat, in the heat of a lot of voices that remember him every time they open.

That of his son, Miguel, and his grandson, Ingueta, both cantaores who still boast an unmistakable stamp: the one he created. And the one followed by figures of the stature of Camarón de la Isla. Camarón de Pitita, another of his sons, this guitarist, received his nickname from this mighty friendship.

The one from San Fernando recorded his fandango for the first time on the album with which he debuted in the record industry together with Paco de Lucía: ‘Al verte las flores Lloran’, in 1969. The track, if you want to enjoy it, is titled ‘En one leg I went to bed’. Later he would do it with the guitars of Tomatito, Sabicas and Pepe Habichuela.

El Rubio, who as a young man moved from La Línea de la Concepción, in Cádiz, to Madrid, where he ended up residing, was a guy reluctant to the general public. He sold antiques in the Rastro, but he always kept the most archaic in his throat. That was something else. Something to share at private parties, where the most curious came to soak up his art and make it popular on the other hand.

El Pescaílla and Lola Flores, La Niña de los Peines, long before all of them, Chiquetete, Pansequito and an extensive list of artists admired his cantaora harangue.

With a lean waist and sharp echo, he recorded with the Hispavox company in the 70s. In addition to fandangos, he also performed soleares, seguirillas and tangos. Lots of other sticks, actually. Cult singer, he avoided the tablaos of the time. He did not bow down to the multinationals or the gentlemen for seeking accommodation. He didn’t know either. He wrote lyrics. He gained hundreds of followers, who now miss him on social networks, and stealthily starred in a story of enormous inspiration.

His style, so personal, started from that of Antonio el de la Calzá, one of his great references, but it took another form in his mouth. More agonizing if possible. Playing to die in each third, until he achieves it. Leaving this music with fewer connections to the past and more names to honor ‘after the fact’. The fragility he showed in his last ‘Sigo ser’, produced by El Flamenco Vive, has finally broken. He did it last Sunday, January 23. There is no voice, not even his, so used to fighting, that resists the threat of time. The greatest of flamenco singers has gone out.

Luis Ybarra Ramirez

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