By Damian Fanelli
As we reported yesterday, highly influential flamenco guitarist, producer and composer Paco de Lucia died February 26 in Mexico at age 66.
One of de Lucia's best-known recordings was 1981's Friday Night in San Francisco, which he recorded with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola.
Last night and this morning, McLaughlin and Di Meola released official statements about the passing of their friend, both of which you can read below in their entirety.
"Paco was a real man. Real in the sense of true; to himself, to his music and to everyone else.
"A man in that he was passionate, but had true compassion and deep understanding of the human condition. All this was revealed in his music and in his marvelous guitar playing. To have worked and played music with him is one the greatest blessings in my life. To say I will miss him is an understatement. In the place where he lived in my heart, there is now an emptiness that will stay with me till I join him."
From Di Meola:
"This morning, I received shocking news before the international news became aware that my dear friend and major guitar innovator Paco De Lucia had passed away. His manager called me immediately and the shock was incredibly devastating as Paco and I had an incredible history and warm friendship I will always cherish!
"Paco de Lucia was viewed in my mind and the world of flamenco as the most important of the newer generations of guitarists embodying the most advanced flamenco approach the world had ever known. While I was part of Chick Corea's Return to Forever at 19 years of age, we toured Spain. It was there that the buzz about him prompted my research by buying several recordings of his. I saw the potential of our collaborating one day. His technique far surpassed any other in that realm of flamenco-type players, and I envisioned an amazing collaboration between us!
"That day happened in 1977, and we made history with "Mediterranean Sundance." This recording, Elegant Gypsy and the trio recording after that, Friday Night in San Francisco, sold a combined 7 million copies, as we were the first guitarists to ever attempt such an endeavor.
"His influence was major and the legions of followers in that world are for sure quite many; however, it was the courage of Paco to break the mold and venture into a more unconventional (for flamenco players) harmonically challenging highly inter playable duet role. He was ready for a challenge that was deemed risky in those days where most all other flamenco guitarists would never have the guts to go.
"The success was astounding, with crowds of between 5,000 to 10,000 people per night as we added John McLaughlin to form the "Guitar Trio"! The challenging, unconventional mix that started with my inviting him when I was 22 (he was almost 28) to New York City to record on my second solo recording, Elegant Gypsy at Jimi Hendrix's studio, Electric Lady, with the duet song "Mediterranean Sundance" became the equivalent of a major pop hit around the world, constantly played on the radio everywhere, which was unheard of in non-vocal music up to that point.
"I remain so sad and will forever miss him but will remember our thousands of great memories and musical camaraderie. RIP, my dear friend!"