This morning I turned on BBC World News and saw Paco De Lucia’s face on the TV screen. “Oh, no!” was my knee-jerk response, mainly because Flamenco guitarists don’t really make the news these days. I unmuted the volume and my worst fears were confirmed: Paco De Lucía died yesterday while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico.
I first saw him play when I was a teenager on a PBS program for the release of The Guitar Trio, an album featuring fellow guitar demons John McLaughlin and Al Di Melola. I had read a lot about McLaughlin and Di Melola in the pages of Guitar Player but was taken aback by De Lucía’s fierce Flamenco style. Playing a traditional nylon string guitar, his intensity and style melted my mind and I loosely followed his later forays into jazz and other styles of music.
The BBC reported that De Lucía passed away on the beach, playing guitar with his family. Like the music he brought into the world over his career, there’s something beautiful in how he left us.