Gipsy Kings

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Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings performing in 2016
Gipsy Kings performing in 2016
Background information
Also known as
  • Los Reyes
  • Alma de Noche
OriginArles and Montpellier, France
Years active1979–present
  • Chico & the Gypsies
  • Gipsy Kings featuring Tonino Baliardo
  • Gipsy Kings by André Reyes
  • Gitano Family
Spinoff ofJosé et Los Reyes
  • Nicolas Reyes
  • Tonino Baliardo
Past members

Gipsy Kings (originally Los Reyes) are a musical group founded in 1979 in Arles, France. The band, whose members have Catalan heritage, play a blend of Catalan rumba, flamenco, salsa, and pop. They perform mostly in Catalan but also mix in Spanish and languages of southern France, such as Occitan.[1]

Although the group members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanos (Spanish Romani) who fled Spain during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. They are known for bringing rumba flamenca, a pop-oriented music distantly derived from traditional flamenco and rumba, to a worldwide audience, and for their interpretations of English-language pop hits.


Beginnings: 1970s–1980s[edit]

In the 1970s, José Reyes and Manitas de Plata were a duo who played rumba flamenca in the southern French town of Arles. When they split up, Reyes began performing with his sons, Nicolas, François (Canut), André, Patchaï, and Paul (Pablo), as José et Los Reyes (as well as being their family name, reyes means "kings" in Spanish). After their father's death in 1979, the brothers continued to perform, joined by their cousins Diego, Paco, and Tonino Baliardo (nephews of Manitas de Plata), as well as French Moroccan musician Chico Bouchikhi, who was then married to Marthe Reyes, José's daughter.[2] Traveling around France and playing at weddings, festivals, and in the streets as a gypsy band, they adopted the moniker Gipsy Kings, with Nicolas as lead vocalist and Tonino on lead guitar. Later, they were hired to play at upper-class parties in such places as Saint-Tropez.[3]

Their first two albums, Allegria (1982) and Luna de Fuego (1983), attracted little notice.

Success: 1987–present[edit]

Success came for Gipsy Kings with their self-titled third album, released in 1987 (1989 in the United States), which included the songs "Djobi Djoba", "Bamboléo", and the ballad "Un Amor". The record spent forty weeks on the US charts, one of few Spanish-language albums to do so.[4]

Pablo Reyes left the group in 1988, due to hearing problems.[5]

Chico Bouchikhi, one of the group's founding members, left in 1991 due to financial disagreements with their then-manager, Claude Martinez,[5] and went on to start his own group, Chico & the Gypsies.[6]

Between 1989 and 2013, the band released nine studio albums: Mosaïque (1989), Este Mundo (1991), Love and Liberté (1993), Estrellas (1995), Compas (1997), Somos Gitanos (2001), Roots (2004), Pasajero (2006), and Savor Flamenco (2013). Their latest, Evidence, came out in 2018. Savor Flamenco won a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Album in 2014.[7] In 1992, they issued the concert album Live.

The band have been criticised by flamenco purists, but Nicolas Reyes has said in an interview that the flamenco world is not in great shape itself, and that the band are proud of their success. Their 1997 album, Compas, however, contains more traditional flamenco music.[8]

Collaborations and covers[edit]

Gipsy Kings recorded a cover of Frank Sinatra's "My Way", entitled "A Mi Manera", which was included on their 1987 self-titled album. They covered "I've Got No Strings" for the 1991 Disney Records direct-to-video album Simply Mad About the Mouse: A Musical Celebration of Imagination. Their version of Eagles' "Hotel California" was an example of fast flamenco guitar leads and rhythmic strumming; it was featured in the 1998 Coen Brothers' movie, The Big Lebowski.[9] The 2010 film Toy Story 3 featured their rendition of Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me" in a Spanish-language version, titled "Hay un Amigo en Mi", and the group performed it in a recognizable flamenco style.[10]

They have also collaborated with various musical artists, including Joan Baez, recording a version of "A Mi Manera" for her 1989 album, Speaking of Dreams. They recorded the song "Get Up!" with Captain Jack, from the Eurodance group's 1999 album, The Captain's Revenge. They published a cover of Bob Marley's "One Love" with his son Ziggy in 2001, and they recorded a cover of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running" with Bananarama, under the pseudonym Alma de Noche, which was included on a 2013 re-issue of the girl band's 1991 album, Pop Life. In 2020, they featured on the song "Ciclone" by Takagi & Ketra, with vocals by Elodie and Mariah Angeliq. A year later, they shared credits with Spanish rapper C. Tangana on the song "Ingobernable", which appeared on his album El Madrileño.

Solo projects[edit]

Nicolas Reyes remains the frontman of the recording act.

Individual members of the band have toured with their own projects and released solo albums. In 1989, Canut Reyes published Boléro,[11] and in 2012, his second album, Gitano, came out.

Tonino Baliardo released an instrumental album in 2001, titled Essences.[12] He followed it two years later with Tonino Baliardo. In 2023, he issued Renaissance, under the name of his touring band, Gipsy Kings featuring Tonino Baliardo.

In 2022, Nicolas Reyes and Moroccan musician Saad Lamjarred collaborated to pay tribute to King Mohammed VI on Throne Day, releasing a song called "Viva El Rey Habibna".[13]

André Reyes performs with his own band, under the name Gipsy Kings by André Reyes.[14] The group consists of André and a number of his relatives, including his son Thomas, his nephews Kakou and Tambo, his brother Patchaï, and his first cousin Mario, as well as four backing musicians.[14] In 2022, they released the album Nací Gitano.

Patchaï Reyes performs as Gitano Family with his son.[5]

Founding member Chico Bouchikhi tours with his band Chico & the Gypsies. They have released numerous albums since 1992.

Band members[edit]

Gipsy Kings originally consisted of two parent families: Reyes and Baliardo. The Reyes brothers, sons of Jose Reyes, are nephews of Manitas de Plata, while the Baliardo brothers are his sons.[15]


  • Nicolas Reyes – lead vocals (1978–present)
  • Tonino Baliardo – lead guitar (1978–present)


  • Canut Reyes – vocals, guitar (1978–?)
  • Chico Bouchikhi – guitar (1978–1991)
  • André Reyes – guitar, backing vocals (1978–?)
  • Diego Baliardo – guitar (1978–?)
  • Paco Baliardo – guitar (1978–?)
  • Pablo Reyes – guitar, backing vocals (1978–1988)
  • Patchaï Reyes – guitar, backing vocals (1978–?)


Awards and recognition[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gipsy Kings presentaron en Praga su último álbum "Roots"". 4 May 2004.
  2. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. Scarecrow Press. pp. 143–145. ISBN 978-0-8108-8296-6.
  3. ^ "Gipsy Kings". Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  4. ^ Gray, Louise (2009). The No-Nonsense Guide to World Music. New Internationalist. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-1-906523-70-1.
  5. ^ a b c "Biographie". (in French). Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  6. ^ "Israël : le grand pardon de Chico" [Israel: the great forgiveness of Chico]. (in French). 3 November 2001. Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  7. ^ "Grammys 2014: The complete list of nominees and winners". Los Angeles Times. 26 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  8. ^ Wald, Elijah (2007). Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music. Routledge. pp. 192–194. ISBN 978-0-415-97929-0.
  9. ^ Jones, Jenny M. (2012). The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time. Voyageur Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7603-4279-4.
  10. ^ "Los Gipsy Kings graban un tema para 'Toy Story 3'" [The Gipsy Kings record the theme for 'Toy Story 3']. Demasiado Cine (in Spanish). 5 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Canut Reyes". Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  12. ^ "tonino Baliardo". Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  13. ^ "Vidéo. "Viva El Rey Habibna" : l'hommage de Lamjarred et d'un vétéran des Gipsy Kings au roi Mohammed VI". Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  14. ^ a b "André Reyes, de Gipsy Kings: La mejor manera de responder a la crítica es en el escenario" [André Reyes from Gipsy Kings: The best way to respond to criticism is onstage]. (in Spanish). 26 February 2022. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  15. ^ Walters, John L. (9 November 2014). "Manitas de Plata obituary". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Other Grammy Nominees". Los Angeles Times. 10 January 1992. Retrieved 1 March 2024.(subscription required)
  17. ^ "The 37th Grammy Nominations". Los Angeles Times. 6 January 1995. Retrieved 1 March 2024.(subscription required)
  18. ^ "Gipsy Kings, le temps des Gitans" [Gipsy Kings, the time of gypsies]. (in French). 12 July 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2024.

External links[edit]