Flamenco guitar great Enrique De Melchor dies

world | Jan 3, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

Enrique de Melchor, one of the greats of Spanish guitar died on January 1 at the age of 61.

Considered the equal of Paco de Lucia and Manolo SanLucar, De Melchor was born near Seville in 1950 but had lived for many years in Madrid where he had shop that sold flamenco guitars. Born Enrique Jiménez Ramírez, he took the name Enrique de Melchor for artistic purposes. He was the son of another guitar great, Melchor de Marchena who died in 1980. 

De Melchor worked with the soulful greats among flamenco singers, including Antonio Mairena, Camarón de La Isla, La Perla de Cádiz, Pansequito, Rocío Jurado, Chiquetete, El Lebrijano, El Fary, María Jiménez and José Menese among others. As a soloist, he appears at venues such as  Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, along with the Madrid’s Teatro Real de Madrid and Barcelona’s Liceo. He also accompanied Spanish opera singers Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras.

One of the top flamenco singers of the day, Diego El Cigala, said to Spanish media that he was devastated at the news of De Melchor’s passing. Said El Cigala, “he was blessed” and added that De Melchor was a “guitarist for singers” unlike many guitarists today. El Cigala remembered that he was a quite young when he first sang with De Melchor and that it was just ten days ago that the two were reunited at Madrid’s Casa Patas where the guitarist appeared to have won his battle with cancer.

Olga de la Pascua, the director of Centro Andaluz de Flamenco, said that the loss of De Melchor is “unrepeatable.” She noted that while he defined himself as a lover of the old ways of flamenco, he was not adverse to new currents. Paulino Plata, of Andalucia’s cultural ministry, said of De Melchor that the late musician was “one of the greats of flamenco and Spanish guitar, the last link to a dynasty of classic accompanists.” 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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