In the Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción there is a statue commemorating the life of José Monje Cruz (a.k.a Camarón de la Isla). The flamenco Romani singer is famed for his revival of the musical style in the latter half of the 20th century, alongside fellow legends, Paco de Lucia and Tomatito.
Born in 1950, Camarón was the son of a basket weaver mother and a blacksmith father – and both were singers who influenced his path to greatness.
He moved to Madrid in 1968 and became a resident artist at the flamenco venue, Tablao Torres Bermejas. Here he met Paco de Lucia and the pair recorded nine albums between 1969 and 1977. The pair toured extensively and when solo commitments occupied Paco, up stepped fellow virtuoso guitarist and composer, Tomatito.
The LP Como El Agua was recorded in 1981 and features the trio. It is one of three LPs reissued by Universal on 180g vinyl – alongside Paris 1987 and Potro De Rabia Y Miel (1992) – where the expanse of Camarón’s work and his life can be explored and savoured. There is also the 2018 documentary film Camarón: Flamenco y Revolución (Camarón: The Film), from the Spanish director Alexis Morante and released through Netflix. In 2005, film director Jaime Chávarri released the biopic Camarón in Spain. The film was subsequently nominated for several Goya Awards and was produced in consultation with Camarón’s widow. In 2006, Isaki Lacuesta directed La Leyenda del Tiempo (The Legend of Time).
Eventually. on Decembe 5th, 2000, the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía awarded Camarón with the ´Llave de Oro del Cante´ – the hallowed Golden Key of Flamenco. This was only the fourth key awarded since 1862.
Potro De Rabia Y Miel (‘foal of rage and honey’) was his last LP and was released in 1992, the year of his death from lung cancer.
A total of ten albums were recorded with Paco de Lucia (including one posthumous release), four with Tomatito (including two posthumously) and four as a trio between 1981 and 1992.
For more information about the discography of Camarón de la Isla, visit Universal Music France.