||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2012)|
Feliciano in 2007
|Birth name||José Montserrate Feliciano García|
|Born||September 10, 1945|
|Origin||Lares, Puerto Rico|
|Genres||Soft rock, Latin pop, bolero, acoustic|
José Feliciano (born September 10, 1945) is a Puerto Rican virtuoso guitarist, singer and composer known for many international hits including his rendition of The Doors' "Light My Fire" and the best-selling Christmas single "Feliz Navidad."
Feliciano was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, on September 10, 1945. Left permanently blind at birth as a result of congenital glaucoma, he was first exposed to music at the age of three. He would play on a tin cracker can while accompanying his uncle who played the Cuatro. When he was five, his family moved to Spanish Harlem, New York City, and at age nine, he played the Teatro Puerto Rico in The Bronx. He started his musical life playing the accordion until his father and family friend, Benjamin Borges, gave him his first guitar in a brown paper bag. He would play by himself in his room for up to 14 hours a day, listening to 1950s rock'n'roll records, classical guitarists such as Andrés Segovia, and jazz players such as Wes Montgomery. He later had classical lessons with Harold Morris, who had been a student of Segovia.
In 1963, after some live performances in pubs and clubs around the USA and Canada, especially in Greenwich Village, New York and Vancouver, BC, where he played at the same time as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, he was signed by Jack Somer, an executive at RCA Victor. In 1964 he released his first single, "Everybody Do the Click," (which become a hit in the Philippines, at #2, staying 14 weeks in the TopTen Hit parade). In 1965 and 1966, he released his first albums: The Voice and Guitar of Jose Feliciano and A Bag Full of Soul, two folk-pop-soul albums that showcased his talent on radios across the USA, where he was described as a "10 finger wizard."He was also invited to the 1964 Newport Jazz festival.
In 1966, he went to Mar del Plata, Argentina, to perform at the Festival de Mar del Plata. There, he impressed RCA Victor officials who told him to stay and record an album in Spanish. They were not sure what they wanted to record so Feliciano suggested they record bolero music. The result was two smash hits with the singles "Poquita Fe" ("Little Faith", a.k.a. "Sin Fe", or "Without Faith"), a song written by fellow Puerto Rican Bobby Capó, and "Usted" (the formal version of "you" in Spanish).
A year later, Feliciano was due to perform in the United Kingdom but the authorities would not allow his guide dog into the country unless it was quarantined for six months. The stringent quarantine measures of those days were intended to prevent the spread of rabies. Feliciano later wrote a song entitled "No Dogs Allowed" (becoming a Netherland Top10 Hit on the charts in 1969), which told the story of his first visit to London.
During his British visit, on July 16, 1967, Feliciano gave a live performance on the pirate radio stations Radio 227 and Radio 355, on board the MV Laissez Faire off the British coast less than a month before the stations were due to be closed by the UK's Marine Broadcasting Offences Act. He also guested on a popular British TV show with Dusty Springfield and recorded a rare single for UK RCA called "My Foolish Heart / Only Once" which was played on London radio. Earlier, on June 4, 1967 in London's Speakeasy Club, Jimi Hendrix came to the stage and jammed with him.
After two more successful albums, Feliciano, now a household name all over Latin America, moved to Los Angeles. He got together with Rick Jarrard who was, at the time, also producing Harry Nilsson and Jefferson Airplane. They recorded The Doors' song "Light My Fire" in a Latin style, released it as a single, and in the summer of 1968 it reached #3 on the US pop charts with over one million copies sold in the US market alone. The song became a #1 hit in many countries including Canada, Brazil and the UK and was awarded a gold disc. On the strength of this success, José won two 1969 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist of the Year and Best Pop Song of the Year, bringing him worldwide recognition as a pop star and stylistic leader because of his 'crossover' from Latino music to English language pop rock. He is widely recognized as the first virtuoso classical guitarist to bring nylon string guitars into the pop rock scene.
On October 7,1968, at the height of protests against the Vietnam War, Feliciano was given the opportunity by Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Tiger Stadium in Detroit during Game 5 pre-game ceremonies of the 1968 World Series. His personalized, slow, latin jazz performance proved highly controversial. As a result of his unusual delivery, many radio stations refused to play his songs and his career stalled for almost three years. In an October, 2006 NPR broadcast, he expressed pride at opening the door for later interpretations of the national anthem. His World Series rendition, which features him accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, was released as a single which charted for 5 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #50.
In 1969, working with Quincy Jones on the Mackenna's Gold movie soundtrack, José recorded its popular theme song Old Turkey buzzard. Also that year, he appeared on numerous US TV shows, performing duets with Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, Glenn Campbell, Andy Williams, Diana Ross, and others under the pseudonym Werbley Finster. He recorded a single called So Long Paul about rumors of Paul McCartney's death.
In 1970, José wrote and released an album of Christmas music, Feliz Navidad. The title song has been covered by many artists, becoming a traditional part of the musical landscape in the U.S., Canada and Latin America at Christmas time. Each year, during the Christmas season, "Feliz Navidad" returns to US airwaves as one of the most-played and most-downloaded songs of the season. "Feliz Navidad" is also recognized by ASCAP as one of the 25 all-time most-played Christmas songs in the world.
In 1971, he traveled to Italy to participate in the Sanremo Music Festival, singing the song "Che sarà" in Italian, earning second place in that contest along with a standing ovation by the Italian public. He later recorded the song, which became a success in Italy, and in much of Europe, including the Iron Curtain countries, as well as in Asia. Feliciano later recorded it in Spanish as "Qué Será", which became becoming a hit in Central and South America, and in English as "Shake a Hand," which was a hit in Scandinavian countries.
He wrote and performed the theme song to the 1970s comedy series Chico and the Man, and played a guest role on that series as the cousin of Chico (Freddie Prinze), singer Pepe Fernando. In the 1970s, he acted and composed for TV series and movies including McMillan & Wife, Kung Fu, and the soundtrack for the 1976 movie Aaron Loves Angela. He has also been a guest performer on many albums by other artists, including Bill Withers's +'Justments, John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll, Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark, Michael Nesmith's Tantamount to Treason and has given concerts with Carlos Santana, Cat Stevens, and Paul Simon.
In 1975, on his last RCA album Just Wanna Rock'n'Roll José released his well known jazz-funk-latin instrumental composition "Affirmation," which was re-released one year later by jazz guitarist George Benson on his hit album "Breezin'."
In early 1974 he played in Prague Czechoslovakia, sharing the stage with Czech idol Karel Gott. Feliciano was one of the very few western pop stars who was able to straddle the cultural barrier between the West and the 'Iron Curtain' countries.
In 1979 he recorded a spontaneous version of his 1968 hit "Light My Fire”, as a duet with R&B/Pop Singer Minnie Riperton. The duet was included on Riperton's final studio album for Capital Records. Riperton died of cancer two months after its release. It's been said that the duet was unplanned which is the reason José is not heard until the second half of the song. He and Riperton were friends and he just happened to be at the studio when it was being recorded and popped in.
1980s to present 
During the 1980s, after a brief attempt at an English album produced by Berry Gordy, (José was a guest on the famous 1983 CBS TV show Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever), record companies recognized his primary affinity for the Latin market, and he began recording an impressive number of hit records for that market including the Motown albums Escenas de Amor and Me Enamoré, as well as others from RCA, EMI, and Capitol, garnering four more Grammy Awards for best Latin performer. He recorded a duet called "Por ella" with the most popular Mexican singer at the time: José José, which became a Latin Hit. In the 80s and into the 90s, José recorded duets with Natalie Cole (Everlasting), Gloria Estefan (Alma Caribena), jazz singer Diane Schuur on her 1985 album "Schuur Things", and with Paul Simon on a particular version of his album Songs from The Capeman.
José received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1987, continuing as a very popular singer for the rest of the 1980s. He had his hands cast on the famous Madame Tussauds Museum's Wall of Fame and has a star on the Walk of Fame of his native Puerto Rico. He also had a great hit in 1987 in Austria with the song "The Sound of Vienna", which reached number 1 there for four weeks, and recorded with the famous Vienna Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra also performed with him live on national television at Danube Park in Vienna before more than 60,000 people.
In 1994, Feliciano recorded a dance record in English entitled "Goin' Krazy" (MJM Records) under the pseudonym JR. Latino DJs around the world supported the record, helping the 12" dance record chart on Billboard and earning him new and younger fans.
Feliciano performed the theme song, "Behind the Mask," for the TV series Queen of Swords in 2000. A promotional video sung in Spanish but never published can be found on YouTube,. The full English version, never published, sung by Feliciano and the composers Spencer Proffer and Steve Plunkett is also on YouTube.
In 2003 Guitarra Mía, a special tribute to Feliciano, was produced by the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and aired both in Puerto Rico and in US cities with large Puerto Rican populations. This television special (and its soundtrack) featured Feliciano and many Puerto Rican and international stars singing some of his most famous songs, along with his personal favorites from other artists. It was first aired in December 2003, just two days after his mother died unexpectedly from a heart attack. In an eerie coincidence, the special's last scenes featured her giving her son a standing ovation, recorded for the occasion a month before.
On December 6, 2006, Feliciano's new Spanish album, José Feliciano y amigos was released by Universal Records, featuring Feliciano in duets with other Latin American stars including Luis Fonsi, Lupillo Rivera, Luciano Pereyra, Rudy Pérez, Cristian Castro, Marc Anthony, Ramón Ayala, Alicia Villarreal, Ricardo Montaner, and Raúl di Blasio. A special edition was later released, featuring Ana Gabriel and Gloria Estefan.
In 2007, Feliciano released an album called Soundtrack of My Life, the first English-language album composed and written by him.
In 2009, after winning his 8th Grammy for the album Señor Bolero, he left Siente Music and released two new English-language albums for digital download, only available from his personal websites. One was dedicated to American Classics, including songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, and the other was an instrumental album in homage to jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt who inspired Feliciano, and features Feliciano's song "Djangoisms." A single from the Kumbia All Starz features him and the internationally famous Tejano band, Los Dinos, released April 28, 2010.
On May 10, 2010, Feliciano performed his rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Comerica Park in Detroit. This was part of the remembrance of Detroit Tigers radio announcer Ernie Harwell who had died the Tuesday before. He played it similarly to the way he had in 1968 with his acoustic guitar and his slow tempo-ed, Latin jazz style.
On December 15, 2010, Feliciano appeared as the featured guest on the 37th wepisode of Daryl Hall's Webbie-Award winning webcast Live From Daryl's House. Feliciano and Hall took turns on several numbers, including Feliciano's version of "Light My Fire." On November 9, 2011, Feliciano received the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
In January 2012, he was a guest in Memphis for the celebration of Elvis Presley's birthday, where he announced the release (on 2012 August, 7) of his new album "The King", a tribute to Elvis produced in collaboration with Elvis' former manager, George Klein.
In July 2012, Jose signed on with personal managers Roy Sciacca of MBM Entertainment and Howard Perl of Howard Perl Management in an effort to resurrect his career worldwide.
On August 7, 2012, Jose released, "The King" - a tribute to Elvis Presley. The record was Executive Produced by Elvis' former best friend, George Klein and released by Johnny Phillips' Select-O-Hits label.
On September 19, 2012, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, he was invited to sing God Bless America for the 7th inning stretch of the New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. Additionally, less than one month later, on October 14, 2012, Jose Feliciano returned to baseball’s post season, and on national television, once again rendered his stylized version of the Star-Spangled Banner in San Francisco before the 1st Game of the National League’s Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Feliciano and his wife Susan have three children: daughter Melissa and sons Jonathan and Michael. Susan was raised in Detroit and met Ernie Harwell during the controversy over Feliciano's rendition of the national anthem in 1968. Harwell later introduced her to Feliciano.
Sense of humor 
Besides his musical skills, Feliciano is known for his strong sense of humor. He constantly makes fun of people's reactions to his blindness, and has even played practical jokes on friends and family based on this. Once his then bass player, Ted Arnold, contrived to allow Feliciano to appear to be driving down a busy street, fooling the passing police. During a show he once said, "I was going to dedicate this next song [Zorba The Greek] to Howard Hughes but I can't see him!" He then dedicated it to Jacqueline Onassis.
He has performed comedy sketches alongside Freddie Prinze, Sunshine Logroño, and the staff of Despierta América and Verónica Castro, among others. He has also parodied fellow artists in his concerts, including Julio Iglesias, Raphael, Rocío Jurado and Isabel Pantoja. An occasional song at his Spanish concerts is a parody of Bobby Capó's song "El Bardo". While the Right Said Fred song "I'm Too Sexy" was popular in the early 1990s, Feliciano closed his English concerts with a parody of it.
His performance of "Old Turkey Buzzard" became a recurring bit on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007, until Feliciano himself appeared on the show on October 16 of that year to perform a live rendition of the song.
In December 2009 a parody of Feliz Navidad entitled "The Illegal Alien Christmas Song" was created by radio producers Matt Fox and A.J. Rice and posted on the website for Human Events, a Washington-based conservative weekly publication. The parody, sung in English, played on the stereotype of Latino immigrants as heavy drinkers and that undocumented immigrants were going to "spread bubonic plague".
Feliciano released a statement on December 23 on his official website:
"This song has always been a bridge to the cultures that are so dear to me, never as a vehicle for a political platform of racism and hate. It’s disgusting and my only wish that my song and I are distanced from the whole affair as soon as possible."
In a statement to the Associated Press the same day, Jed Babbin, Human Events' site editor, apologized for "any offense that Mr. Feliciano may have taken from this parody" and removed it from the site.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
- 1964 - The Voice and Guitar of José Feliciano
- 1966 - A Bag Full of Soul
- 1966 - Fantastic Feliciano
- 1968 - Feliciano!
- 1968 - Souled
- 1969 - Feliciano/10 To 23
- 1969 - Alive Alive O!"
- 1970 - Fireworks
- 1970 - Feliz Navidad
- 1971 - Encore!
- 1971 - Che sarà
- 1971 - That the Spirit Needs
- 1971 - Another Record
- 1972 - Sings
- 1972 - Memphis Menu
- 1973 - Compartments
- 1973 - Peter Stuyvesant presents José Feliciano in concert with the London Symphony Orchestra
- 1974 - For My Love, Mother Music
- 1974 - And The Feeling's Good
- 1975 - Affirmation
- 1975 - Just Wanna Rock'n'Roll
- 1976 - Angela
- 1977 - Sweet Soul Music
- 1981 - José Feliciano"
- 1983 - Romance in the Night
- 1989 - I'm Never Gonna Change
- 1990 - Steppin' Out (Optimism Records)
- 1994 - Goin' Krazy' (MJM Records) (12" Dance Remix Single recorded under the pseudonym JR)
- 1996 - Present Tense
- 1996 - On Second Thought
- 2006 - Six-String Lady (the instrumental album)
- 2007 - The Genius of José Feliciano
- 2008 - Soundtrax of My Life
- 2009 - The Paris Concert (live)
- 2009 - American Classics (only for digital download)
- 2009 - Djangoisms (only for digital download)
- 2011 - The Genius of José Feliciano, Vol.2
- 2012 - The King, Jose Feliciano tribute to Elvis Presley
- 1966 El Sentimiento La Voz y la Guitarra
- 1966 La Copa Rota
- 1967 Sombra
- 1967 Mas Éxitos de José
- 1968 Felicidades Con Lo Mejor de José Feliciano
- 1968 Sin Luz
- 1970 ¡El Fantástico!
- 1971 En Mi Soledad - No Llores
- 1971 José Feliciano Dos Cruces
- 1971 José Feliciano January 71
- 1971 José Feliciano Canta Otra
- 1982 Escenas de Amor
- 1983 Me Enamoré
- 1984 Como Tú Quieres
- 1985 Ya Soy Tuyo
- 1986 Te Amaré
- 1987 Tu Inmenso Amor
- 1990 Niña
- 1992 Latin Street '92
- 1996 Americano
- 1998 Señor Bolero
- 2003 Señor Bolero 2
- 2003 Guitarra Mía Tribute
- 2005 A México, Con Amor
- 2006 José Feliciano y amigos
- 2007 Señor Bachata
- 2008 Con Mexico en el corazon
- 2009 José Feliciano en vivo
- 2012 Alma Rebelde
Hit Singles 
|US Latin||US Country||UK||AU||CA|
|1968||"Light My Fire"||3||29||-||-||-||6||14||1|
|"The Star Spangled Banner"||50||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"And the Sun Will Shine"||-||-||-||-||-||25||-||-|
|1969||"Adios Amor (Goodbye My Love)"||-||-||-||-||-||-||4||-|
|"My World Is Empty Without You"||87||-||-||-||-||-||71||-|
|"Marley Purt Drive"||70||-||33||-||-||-||38||48|
|"She's a Woman"||103||-||-||-||-||-||47||91|
|1970||"Point of View"||-||-||-||-||-||-||58||90|
|"Girl (You'll Never Get Away From Me)"||84||-||-||-||-||-||93||-|
|1971||"I Only Want To Say"||122||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Chico and the Man"||96||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1980||"I'm Comin' Home Again"||-||-||44||-||-||-||-||-|
|1982||"I Wanna Be Where You Are"||-||63||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1983||"Let's Find Each Other Tonight"||-||-||-||-||64||-||-||-|
|1987||"Se Me Sigue Olvidando"||-||-||-||6||-||-||-||-|
|1988||"Ponte a Cantar"||-||-||-||5||-||-||-||-|
|"No Hay Mal Que Por Bien No Venga"||-||-||-||3||-||-||-||-|
|"Cuando El Amor Se Acaba"||-||-||-||7||-||-||-||-|
|"No Te Arrepentiras"||-||-||-||33||-||-||-||-|
|1990||"¿Por Qué Te Tengo Que Olvidar?"||-||-||-||1||-||-||-||-|
|1991||"No Puedo Estar Sin Ti"||-||-||-||10||-||-||-||-|
|1993||"Venga La Esperanza"||-||-||-||24||-||-||-||-|
|"Goin' Krazy" (Dance Single Charts)||38||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1998||"Me Has Echado Al Olvido"||-||-||-||6||-||-||-||-|
|"Feliz Navidad (Re-Release)"||70||-||18||-||-||-||-||-|
|2003||"Lo Que Yo Tuve Contigo"||-||-||-||13||-||-||-||-|
Hit albums: United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada 
||The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2012)|
|US Latin Album||US Cash Box||UK||AUS||CND|
|Feliciano 10 to 23||16||15||18||-||8||38||2||8|
|That The Spirit Needs||173||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1974||And The Feeling's Good||136||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1975||Just Wanna Rock'n'Roll||165||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1982||Escenas de Amor||-||-||-||3||-||-||-||-|
|1984||Como Tú Quieres||-||-||-||9||-||-||-||-|
|1985||Ya Soy Tuyo||-||-||-||2||-||-||-||-|
|1987||Tu Inmenso Amor||-||-||-||4||-||-||-||-|
|1989||Los 15 Especiales||-||-||-||7||-||-||-||-|
|2001||Noches de Bohemia||-||-||-||35||-||-||-||-|
|Noches de Bohemia Vol. 2||-||-||-||47||-||-||-||-|
|2003||Señor Bolero Vol. 2||173||-||-||2||-||-||-||-|
|2004||A México... Con Amor||-||-||-||54||-||-||-||-|
|2006||La Historia de José Feliciano||-||-||-||33||-||-||-||-|
|2007||José Feliciano y Amigos||-||-||-||33||-||-||-||-|
|2008||Con México en el Corazón||-||-||-||69||-||-||-||-|
See also 
- Extremely Accomplished Musician
- Episode 37: Jose Feliciano :: Live From Daryl's House with Daryl Hall :: Current Episode. Livefromdarylshouse.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-12.
- Official Web site
- Foxy Tunes
- LondonTown - No Dogs Allowed
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 239. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- José Feliciano interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969).
- Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
- Jose Feliciano Behind The Mask (Director Tom Laurie). YouTube. Retrieved on 2012-05-12.
- Queen of Swords Theme: Behind the mask. YouTube (2008-11-21). Retrieved on 2012-05-12.
- "Musician will pay tribute to Harwell by singing national anthem in Detroit", The Detroit Free Press, page 7B, Monday, May 10, 2010
- Jose Feliciano Official Site » OFFICIAL STATEMENT. Josefeliciano.com. Retrieved on 2012-05-12.
- "Human Events Removes Racist Song, Apologizes to José Feliciano". Retrieved December 29, 2012.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 197. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Jose Feliciano official website
- José Feliciano singing "Che Sarà" in Italian at the San Remo Festival in 1971
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