STOP - DON'T EVEN READ THIS - YET -
The first thing you need to do is buy yourself the GK video documentary Tierra Gitana. It runs about $20 and you'll find that it will become your GK bible. It is musical, informative and easily available. Here is a link to information on obtaining it. It will answer many of your questions and be far more entertaining than reading this FAQ silently on your computer.
WHEN WILL THE GIPSY KINGS PLAY MY AREA?
The GipsyKings.net web site lists all known Gipsy Kings concerts. We do not leave any out. If you do not see a concert listed in your area, either they will not be playing there during the current tour (if there is one) or there is no reliable information about a concert in your area yet. Your best bet is to keep checking the GipsyKings.net web site.
I'VE HEARD OF THEM PLAYING AT A SMALL CLUB OR RESTAURANT. IS THIS TRUE?
Beware of imposters! There have been many instances of other musicians posing as, or being billed as, the Gipsy Kings...but they are not the REAL Gipsy Kings. Again, your most reliable source of concert information is the GipsyKings.net web site.
WHO'S WHO IN THE GK?
As they appear on stage from stage right to left.
Many photos are avilable on the GKML Website from previous tours so you can put faces to names.
PAUL REYES: rhythm guitar, backup vocals
ANDRE REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals
NICOLAS REYES: rhythm guitar, lead vocals
TONINO BALIARDO: lead guitar, "El Maestro"
PACO BALIARDO: rhythm guitar
PATCHAI REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals
DIEGO BALIARDO: rhythm guitar
CANUT REYES: rhythm guitar, vocals
Backup band 2000 and 2001:
MERCELLO PELLETTIEI - drummer. From Uruguay.
RODOLFO PACHECO - percussion. From Colombia.
GILDAS BOLCE - bass guitar
JEAN BAPTISTE BOLCE - keyboards
Backup band 2002:
STEPHANE LAMBATTE - drummer
FERNANDO PADILLA-DELGADO - bass
RODOLFO PACHECO - percussion
DOMINIQUE DROIN - keyboards
MICHAEL BALIARDO- Tonino's son. percussions, guitar, vocals.
DOUME "TITI" REYES - Patchai's son. guitar, vocals.
GEORGES REYES - Nicolas' son. guitar, vocals
Former Backup Band:
JORGE "NEGRITO" TRASANTE - drummer
GERARD PREVOST - bass guitar
DOMINIQUE DROIN - keyboards
CHICO BOUCHIKI is a former member --more on Chico later.
WHO OPENS CONCERTS WITH "ARE YOU READY FOR THE GIPSY FIESTA?
That is Pascal Imbert, their U.S. manager.
HAS THE LINEUP OF THE GK CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
Yes. An excellent timeline showing chronological lineups of GK is available at Vamos a Bailar
HOW ARE THEY RELATED TO EACH OTHER?
The Reyes brothers and the Baliardo brothers are distant cousins. Of course, it has been said that ALL Gypsies are cousins. Chico is a brother-in-law of the Reyes brothers.
Since 1998 at least four of their children, Michael, Titi, Georges and Canut Amadour have begun to perform with them on occassion.
WHEN ARE THEIR BIRTHDAYS?
Paul - 12/17
Andre - 12/10
Nicolas - 11/22
Tonino - 8/24
Patchai - 5/27
Georges - ???
Canut - 6/9
Michael - 1/15
Negrito - 10/17
Pacheco - 10/28
Gerard - 9/24
Dominique - 9/29
WHAT IS THE BIRTH ORDER OF THE REYES BROS?
They have six sisters, one of whom married Chico.
WHAT GK PARAPHENALIA CAN I BUY AT CONCERTS?
I've seen a few different styles and designs of T-shirts available for about US$20-25 and baseball caps for about US$20. At a few shows there were GK keychains for sale.
WHERE CAN I GET GK T-SHIRTS, POSTERS, ETC?
If not at the concerts, there is very limited promotional material out there. Try Rocktoys: http://www.sonic.net/~rocktoys/etoh.htm. They usually have a small selection of left-over T's.
ARE THE GIPSY KINGS ONLINE?
Unfortunately, no. They are not embracers of internet technology. Someone suggested that perhaps the children of the GK were computer oriented. When I asked Michael and Georges about this, Georges just said "No" and Michael told me - with his eyes twinkling and his smile flashing - his computer was "in his head."
HOW WOULD YOU CATEGORIZE THEIR MUSIC?
What GK play today is traditional Spanish Gypsy music taken one step further. It has been called Flamenco/Rumba and Rumba Catalan, and while its roots are in Flamenco, the more up-beat rumba is what we know them for. In the early days with Jose and even when the Reyes and Baliardos first started playing together the "produced" sound was absent. That was a more recent addition, as is the addition of the backup band. As Gypsies, these travellers picked up many musical influences along the way on their journey from India to Spain. That accounts for the Arabic, Indian, Middle Eastern and other influences we hear.
WHERE CAN I FIND GK LYRICS ONLINE?
WHERE CAN I FIND GK DISCOGRAPHY?
ANY GK VIDEOS?
Assuming you took everyone's advice and now own Tierra Gitana
- FUEGO! is a collection of GK videos
- ROYAL ALBERT HALL - for sale occasionally on ebay
- US TOUR 90 - now available on DVD
- LIVE AT WOLFTRAP - produced by PBS, but not for sale
WHERE CAN I FIND GK SOUND CLIPS? VIDEO CLIPS?
CAN YOU DEFINE COMMONLY USED TERMS?
juerga - an informal gathering or party where music is played
bambolear - to stagger or sway, move freely without restriction
payo/gadjo - payo is the Calo term, gadjo is the Rrom term for non-Gypsy
WHAT IS DUENDE?
It has been said that true duende is a euphoric -- almost trancelike --state that spontaneously arises in the listener when he experiences a performance on a level far beyond what his ears and eyes bring to him. This concept is not to be taken lightly. It is something rarely known to us, the average concert goers. On a different level, duende has come to mean sharing in the cumulative joy and pain that a performer has felt in his lifetime that he brings to his music.
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
They were born in Southern France, in the Camargue region, around Arles, Montpelier and Les Saintes Maries de la Mer (LSMDLM or Les Saintes). Originally from Spain, their families fled to Southern France during the Spanish Civil War. As Gypsies, their roots are from India, a milennium ago.
WHAT LANGUAGE DO THEY SPEAK? SING IN?
They speak French primarily. They also speak Calo, inaccurately called Gitane or Gitano (Gypsy), the traditional language of the Spanish Gypsies. They sing in a Spanish argot that is the same form of Spanish that is used in traditiional Flamenco music. Nicolas says about their language: "Our dialect is a combination of the language from the north-east of Spain, where our family stayed until 1936, and the French provincial language from where we are since." They do NOT sing in Catalan or Arabic. A short Calo dictionary can be found at:
HOW DID THE GK EVOLVE?
Their father, Jose Reyes, was already a famous singer in Southern France. He formed a group in 1975 with Paul, Canut, Nicolas, Patchai and his son-in-law, Chico, called Jose Y Los Reyes. Andre was still too young to participate. There are four CDs from this era which are highly recommended (see recommended music). One day at the Fete Des Stes Maries de la Mer, after Jose's death, the Reyes brothers including Chico met up with their cousins, the Baliardo brothers. Their connection was magical and they continued to play together in Southern France. More of the history under "Chico"
HOW DID THEY GET THEIR NAME?
Legend has it that one day a particularly enthusiastic fan asked their name. She commented that since Reyes means "kings" and because they were Gypsies, they should be Gypsy Kings. The name stuck, altho was misspelled Gipsy, with the "i" instead of "y".
WHAT IS JOSE'S HISTORY?
Born 8 Nov 1928. His family fled Spain for Southern France in 1936 because of The Spanish Civil War. In 1946 he married Clementine with whom he would have 12 chilren, one of whom died in her youth, and five of whom would become Gipsy Kings. He performed with a cousin, Manitas de Plata, he as a singer, Manitas as guitarist. In 1979 he died of lung cancer.
WHO IS MANITAS DE PLATA? HOW DID HE GET THAT NAME?
Ricardo Baliardo. Manitas de Plata literally means "little hands of silver," The legend I had originally heard was that the name Manitas de Oro (gold), was the name reserved for the guitar great Andres Segovia. But in the book of Manitas' memoires, "Musique aux Doigts," I read that he was given the name by a would-be promoter at the age of 12 when he was booked to play at a party, in an effort to make him sound more exotic and famous. The name stayed with him throughout his life. He is cousin to Jose and also related to the Baliardos of the Gipsy Kings. Many CDs of his music are available (see recommended). He turned 80 in August 2001 and still can dazzle fans with his talent. His granddaughter, Linda, is Tonino's wife.
SO WHAT'S CHICO'S STORY?
Chico was born to a Moroccan father and an Algerian Mother who moved to Arles in 1951. There they founded a friendship with the Reyes family. Later Chico married Marthe, one of the Reyes daughters. It became clear in his early days with Jose Y Los Reyes and later with the Gipsy Kings that it was Chico who had the promotional, accounting, management and especially production skills that the group needed to survive. In 1986, a Parisian promoter, Claude Martinez "discovered" the GK and over the next 5 years a tug-of-war for control of the band ensued between the Chico and Claude. Chico lost the battle, GK were seduced away by the Paris promotor and Chico left the group to form his own band Chico and the Gypsies. Three CDs from them (see recommended music) - also highly recommended. There are other skews on this story in which Chico is the "bad" guy. Chico has subsequently created a festival ground called El Patio, where gypsy musicians are invited to perform and meet.
More about Chico: Chico's website
WHAT IS THE FETE DES SAINTES MARIES DE LA MER?
This is the holiest of Gypsy holidays, May 24-26. Rrom (general term for Gypsies)from all over the world and many tourists gather in this tiny coastal French town to honor Sainte Sara, also called Kali (Kali=black, she is the black Gypsy Goddess). Legend has it that:
|"Around the year 40, a boat was launched from Jerusalem, without sail, oars or supplies, and drifted across the Mediterrenean until it drifted ashore at this site. The refugees in the boat were: Mary Jacobe...Mary Salome, Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary Magdalene and Martha...and Sarah, the servant of the two Marys"
(Quoted directly from)
WHAT IS THEIR GYPSY HISTORY?
Volumes have been written on the subject of Gypsies and this is the briefest overview. The Gypsies' original homeland was India. About a thousand years ago they were forced to flee and headed West through the Middle East and into Europe. The gitano branch, from which the Reyes and Baliardos are related, settled in Spain many centuries later. Gypsies treasure their privacy and above all their families, probably because of centuries of persecution from the gadje (outside) world. This explains why we know so little about the families of the GK. They adore their children and all children. Jose and Nicolas have been quoted as saying that all children are "kings" and that the Gitanos have so many children they can't count them all.
WHEN DID THEY FIRST START TO PLAY AND SING?
It is said that playing guitar and singing to a pregnant woman will ensure talent and appreciation of music in her child. Children are exposed to music and encouraged from birth to sing, dance, play guitar, beat out rhythms with whatever is available. So essentially they have played guitar and sung since birth.
WHY DO SOME OF THEM PLAY GUITARS STRUNG UPSIDE-DOWN?
Becuase they learn to play music as small children, some of the left-handed GK just took a guitar strung for the right hand and flipped it upside down. Or perhaps they were trying to play a mirror-image of their elders. Nicolas, Patchai and Andre play this way. Diego seems to have re-strung his guitar for the left hand. This may be because, as you have learned from Tierra Gitana, "The Reyes are more singers and the Baliardos are more guitarists."
Interesting note - Nicolas signs autographs with his right hand but plays guitar left-handed.
WHAT KIND OF GUITARS DO THEY PLAY?
Their guitars have varied from Cordoba, Takamine, Hermanos Conde and Gibson Chet Atkins.
WHAT KIND OF STRINGS DO THEY USE?
Savarez - rosa - forte.
HOW MANY GUITARS DO THEY TRAVEL WITH?
Twenty-one, three for each. There are 10 on stage at any given time, and extras waiting in the wings. They have only one Guitar Tech, however, while on tour.
HOW DO THEY STRUM?
Most of them play with the flesh rather than the nail, although they fortify their nails with fiberglass for concerts. The combination of strumming and striking the guitar body with the hand for rhythm is a common style. The strike with the hand is called a golpe.
WHERE CAN I FIND GUITAR TABLATURE?
Some guitar tabs are available HERE. A web search using a search engine like Google may turn up more sources.
WHAT IS THE BOX THEY USE FOR PERCUSSION?
Called a cajon (box), it's an empty wooden box with an adjustable front soundboard and a hole in the back. The musician sits on top and strikes it with the hands for a primitive, although effective if not seductive, percussive accent.
WHAT ABOUT THE SYNCHRONIZED HANDCLAPS?
They are called Palmas and clapping compas (rhythm)is very traditional. It takes several people clapping Palmas to make it sounds as though one person is clapping very fast. One person will clap on the beat, the other off the beat. Each person is keeping the same compas, just not at the same time as the other. The rhythm is very synchronized, concentration is essential.
WHAT DO THE LYRICS TO VIENTO DEL ARENA MEAN?
No one seems to have much of a clue about this one, including list linguists. The best information I can offer is the text of the song in French that I took from the cover of Luna de Fuego on vinyl and my English translation:
Dieu, je chante ta splendeur
Toi qui es la terre et le feu
L'eau et le vent
Tous les fils du vent sont tes fils
Tous les fils du vent sont des freres
C'est pourquoi je chante mes freres du desert
Les fils du vent de sable.
God, I sing of your splendor
You, who are the earth and the fire
The water and the wind
All the sons of the wind are your sons
All the sons of the wind are brothers
That is why I sing my brothers of the desert
The sons of the wind and the sand
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE US AND FOREIGN RELEASES?
Generally, Atlantic Records releases US CDs with fewer cuts and the Sony Euro/Canadian/Japanese releases have more tracks. It is a matter of marketing on the part of the record company.
WHY DO ALLEGRIA AND LUNA DE FUEGO SOUND SO MUCH LESS PRODUCED?
This was perhaps older material that was "in the can," released only after the popularity of GK increased world-wide after their former manager, Claude Martinez added the backup band.
HAVE THE GK DONE ANY SOLO ALUMS?
Canut's solo CD is called Bolero
Gitano Family: Paul, Canut, and Patchi have appeared on two different CDs (see recommended for both).
Tonino's Essences was released in 2001
WHO IS BERNADETTE ON BOLERO?
She is the daughter of Rosa, who is one of the Reyes sisters.
WHO IS CANUT FRANCOIS AMADOR REYES?
He is the nephew and godchild of the GK Canut, and the son of Pablo Reyes from the GK.
INTERESTING NOTE ON NAMES -- Gypsies tend to have Legal Names, Gypsy names, and nicknames. Many of the performers we hear have similar names but are different people. Very often they take the Mother's maiden name. And as often - they don't spell it the same way twice.
WHO ARE LOS REYES?
There have been several combinations of Los Reyes since the time when Jose formed Jose Y Los Reyes with his sons. The current Los Reyes are a group formed from cousins of the Gipsy Kings: Antonico Reyes, Mario Reyes and Toni Reyes are the consistent members on all four CDs (see recommended). There is an ongoing controversy about their use of the "Los Reyes" name and its alleged intent to
pretend to be the original group. Note - the CD Les Stes Maries de la Mer, although it is the "old" Los Reyes with Canut, Paul,and Nicolas (but without Jose) is credited to Los Reyes. And yet a different lineup of Reyes is found on Gipsy Kings of Music: Antonico, Canut, Manuel, Patchai and Toni.
WHO IS JULES ROMERO?
Guitar and vocals on Gitano Family, probably not related to the Reyes or Baliardos. Interesting note - he was a bullfighter who turned to a career in music after a nasty encounter in the bullring.
WHO'S WHO IN THE BALIARDO FAMILY? OTHER REYES?
The best place for information on family relationships of the Baliardos and Reyes is:
Krishna's Los Reyes Site
The Baliardos can boast a long line of extraordinary guitarists, including Manitas de Plata and Tonino. The Reyes can boast an equal number of great musicians.
WHO IS NINO BALIARDO?
Bruno, aka Nino de Suerte, aka Canard, is a nephew of Manitas. His father, Hippolyte, is Manitas' brother. He appeared on Allegria and has also recorded with Armadillo, Hermanos Baliardos, and the hard-to-find Pepe et Canard. (see recommended)
WHO ARE THE GK IMPOSTERS OF '99?
Manolo (Philippe Bourgues) and Lito (Joseph Lito Cortes) - rumba/flamenco artists from Camargue who tour the US promoting themselves as The Gipsy Kings. GK Management has litigation pending against them.
WHAT OTHER MUSIC DO YOU RECOMMEND AFTER I HAVE ALL THE GK CDS?
- Jose Y Los Reyes: Gitane Poete, Cantaor de la Camarge, L'Amour d'Un Jour
- Los Reyes: Les Stes Maries de la Mer
- Gitano Family: Sara, Sara; Roque Rock; Torero
- Los Reyes: Gipsy Kings of Music
- Gipsy Reign: Pasion
- Canut Reyes: Bolero
- Chico and the Gypsies: Nomade, Vagabundo, Tengo Tengo
- Los Reyes : Gipsy Legend (same as Fuego), Tarot, Gipsy Xmas
- Nino Baliardo - Armadillo, Hermanos Baliardo, self-titled
- Manitas - ALL of them!!
For more music check out the GKML Website
CAN YOU RECOMMEND SOME VIDEOS ABOUT GYPSIES AND FLAMENCO?
- Latcho Drom - Tony Gatlif
- Les Princes - Gatlif
- Gadjo Dilo
- The Romany trail, parts I and II
- Curse on the Gipsies
- Flamenco - Carlos Saura
- Sevillianas - Carlos Saura
For more videos check out the GKML Website
ARE THERE BOOKS ABOUT GYPSIES?
- The Gypsies - Angus Fraser
- Bury Me Standing- Isabel Fonseca
- HandBook of Vlax Romani - Ian Hancock
- Les Gitans - Lucien Clergue
- Gypsies and Flamenco - Bernard Leblon
For more books check out the GKML Website
WHERE CAN I BUY GREAT MUSIC ONLINE?
Please Note - I have only verified that these URLs exist. I cannot in any way endorse their reliability - except for the ones I have personally dealt with.
The list is in no particular order:
MISCELLANEOUS INTERESTING TIDBITS:
La Dona was written for Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot is alleged to have been involved with Manitas
Suraya Bonaly skated to a cover of Tu Quires Volver in the Olympics
Paul Reyes has only sung lead on two songs: Fete des SMDLM and Rhumba de los Reyes
Paul is Doume's Christian name
Paul Reyes and Mario Reyes (of Los Reyes) played with Chico and the Gypsies on Tengo Tengo
The term "ole" comes from the word "allah"
The U of New Mexico in Albuquerque is the only university in the US to offer a degree in Flamenco - through the dance department.
HOW CAN I CONTACT THE OWNERS OF THIS WEB SITE?
While I'd like to sign my name to this FAQ, I really want to give credit and thanks to the GKML and its members and to the GIPSY KINGS and their management for offering information and support.
I hesitate to name individuals for fear of leaving anyone out... besos a todos..................LP
last updated 26 October 2002