Gipsy Kings

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Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings performing in Germany (2016)
Gipsy Kings performing in Germany (2016)
Background information
OriginArles, France
Years active1978–present
MembersNicolas Reyes
Tonino Baliardo
Past membersCanut Reyes
Chico Bouchikhi
André Reyes
Jacques Baliardo
Maurice Baliardo
Pablo Reyes
Patchai Reyes
Jorge Trasante

Gipsy Kings are a group of flamenco, salsa, and pop musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France, who perform mostly in Spanish, but also mixing southern French dialects.[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 music, to worldwide audiences. The group originally called itself Los Reyes.


Gipsy Kings, born in France but brought up within Spanish culture, are largely responsible for bringing the sounds of progressive pop-oriented flamenco to a worldwide audience. The band started out in Arles, a town in southern France, during the 1970s, when brothers Nicolas and André Reyes, the sons of flamenco artist Jose Reyes, teamed up with their cousins Jacques, Maurice, and Tonino Baliardo.[2] At the time, Reyes and Manitas de Plata were a duo who triggered the wider popularity of rumba flamenca (also known as Spanish or gypsy rumba). When Reyes split from Manitas de Plata, he started a group made up of his sons, which he called Los Reyes (as well as being their family name, reyes means "kings" in Spanish).

Los Reyes started out as a gypsy band. They traveled around France, playing at weddings, festivals, and in the streets. Because they lived so much like gypsies, the band adopted the name Gipsy Kings. Later, they were hired to add color to upper-class parties in such places as St. Tropez, but their first two albums attracted little notice. At this point, the Gipsies played traditional flamenco invigorated by Tonino Baliardo's guitar playing and Nicolas Reyes' voice.

The Gipsy King lineup featured a combination of left and right-handed guitarists; three of the Reyes brothers (Nicolas, André, and Patchai) play guitar left-handed, and play left-hand (and sometimes right-hand) guitars that are strung for right-handers (i.e., with the low "E" string on the bottom), while Diego Baliardo plays a left-handed guitar that is strung for left hand (i.e., with the low "E" string on the top). Together with right-handers Canut and Paul Reyes, and Paco Baliardo, these guitarists focus on delivering the strong underpinning rhythms while the more complex leads are performed by the right-handed and conventionally-styled Tonino Baliardo.[citation needed]


Gipsy Kings became popular with their self-titled third album, which included the songs "Djobi Djoba", "Bamboléo", and the ballad "Un Amor".

Gipsy Kings was released in the United States in 1989 and spent 40 weeks on the charts, one of few Spanish-language albums to do so.[3] The band covered "I've Got No Strings" for the 1991 Disney video and compilation album Simply Mad About the Mouse. Their cover version of "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.[4] The 2010 film Toy Story 3 featured their rendition of "You've Got a Friend in Me", a Spanish-language version titled "Hay un Amigo en Mi", and performed in a recognisably flamenco style.[5] "Bamboleo" was featured in a grocery store scene in the 2016 film Sing.

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 contains more traditional flamenco music.[6]

Solo projects[edit]

French-born vocalist Nicolas Reyes remains the frontman of the recording act.

Some of the individual members of the band have put out their own albums. In 1988, Canut Reyes released his solo project, Boléro. He has since released a second solo album, titled Gitano. André Reyes recorded a solo album in 1992, but never released it officially. Unlicensed copies were acquired by fans and released online.[citation needed] Tonino Baliardo released his own instrumental album, Essences, in 2001, re-released in 2003.


Gipsy Kings have collaborated with many renowned artists. These efforts include "Speaking of Dreams" with Joan Baez in 1990, "My Way" with Francis Cabrel in 1993, a version of Bob Marley's "One Love" sung with his son Ziggy Marley, and Georges Reyes' song "Donde esta el amor" with Nicolas Reyes in 2006. They also performed "Get Up!" with Captain Jack, and covered a version of the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running" with Bananarama on their Pop Life album, under the pseudonym Alma de Noche.[citation needed]

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. The Baliardo brothers are his sons.[7]

  • Nicolas Reyes – founder, lead singer
  • François (Canut) Reyes – vocals, guitar
  • André Reyes – vocals, guitar
  • Patchai Reyes – vocal, guitar
  • Pablo (Paul) Reyes – guitar
  • Tonino Baliardo – founder, lead guitarist
  • Diego Baliardo – guitar
  • Paco Baliardo – guitar

Chico Bouchikhi, co-founder of the group, a son-in-law of Jose Reyes, was also a member but left after the 1989 album Mosaïque to create his own band, Chico & The Gypsies.

As of 2015, only founding members Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo remain in the Gipsy Kings lineup; tour promotional notices bill them as "The Gipsy Kings (featuring Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo)".[citation needed]


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. ^ Gray, Louise (2009). The No-Nonsense Guide to World Music. New Internationalist. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-1-906523-70-1.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Los Gipsy Kings graban un tema para 'Toy Story 3'" [The Gipsy Kings record the theme for 'Toy Story 3']. Demasiado Cine (in Spanish). May 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Wald, Elijah (2007). Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music. Routledge. pp. 192–194. ISBN 978-0-415-97929-0.
  7. ^ Walters, John L. (November 9, 2014). "Manitas de Plata obituary". The Guardian.
  8. ^ "Grammys 2014: The complete list of nominees and winners". Los Angeles Times. January 26, 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-28.

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