Spain: Mourning for a Eurovision star

by Fernando Méndez 183 views

The Spanish Eurovision entrant Peret passed away after his fight against cancer

It was announced on 27 August that Pedro Pubill Calaf, best known by his stage name Peret, had died. The singer had been admitted to the Quirón clinic in Barcelona at the end of July due to lung cancer. His condition was made public then, when he explained the reasons for halting his public appearances.

His funeral chapel was set in the Saló de Cent in the Barcelona City Hall.

Peret was born in Los Corrales, Mataró, Spain on 24 March 1935. When he was 4 his family moved to Barcelona. He worked in many different jobs before beginning a life dedicated to music. His debut came when he was 12 at the Tivoli Theater in Barcelona together with his cousin Pepi and under the stage name Hermanos Montenegro. He worked for three years with the cantaora La Camboria. In 1962 he published his first record. He spent some time in Latin America and upon his return to Spain he learned that he was sought for a second album due to the great success of the first one.

He participated twice in the MIDEM Festival, in 1967 and 1968. It was the second time which earned him the first prize of that contest with his ever-remembered hit Una lágrima.

1968 was one of the most fruitful years of the beginning of Peret’s career, as he also made an appearance in Tom Jones’s television show, he was awarded the Grand Prix de Disque in the Sopot Festival, his song El gitano Antón was the summer hit and he was recognized in Spain with the prestigious Premio Ondas.

The peak of his career would come in 1974 when he represented Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest with his unmistakable Canta y sé feliz.

In the Eighties he converted to the Evangelic Church and he became a pastor.

Peret continued working in the music industry as a singer, a composer and a producer, with one short break in the early 90s and a second one in 1996 which would last eleven years.

His last album, De los cobardes nunca se ha escrito nada, was published in 2009. Before his passing, he was working on the release of an album in Catalan and on the last preparations of another one in Spanish.

Music mastermind and King of the Rumba Catalana

Peret is considered the creator and the incarnation of a music genre that was born in the 50s and which brought mambo with rock’n roll together. He used the beat of rock and the melody of mambo, which he mixed with his Spanish guitar.

Furthermore, he developed a new way of clapping hands. This has been described as a human percussion instrument, something that can be written on a music score.

With these new music concepts Peret built up the Rumba Catalana, the style that he created and always worked with.

He is also the father of the ventilador (Spanish for fan) technique, his peculiar and self-made way of playing the guitar using the soundbox as a drum.

His classics

Apart from being one of the most remembered Spanish representatives in the Eurovision Song Contest, Peret is engraved in the memory of the Spaniards for a good deal of songs that have become timeless classics, masterpieces and anthems in some cases.

Borriquito is a tune that many generations had to hear from friends and relatives who attempted to encourage children into studying hard.

El muerto vivo is an ever-present tune in ferias, feasts and other celebrations. This vibrant rumba tells the story of the man who was believed to be dead but had actually simply passed out after a hard party. This is one the songs that Peret wished to have played at his funeral.

Barcelona tiene un poder, a song dedicated to the Mediterranean capital where he began singing, is one of his greatest hits and it reached the top of its popularity with the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, which took place in Barcelona.

Peret passed away at the age of 79 in Barcelona, Spain. He will be buried in Mataró on 29 August.

Peret sang Canta y sé feliz for Spain in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.

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