Gipsy Kings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings (ZMF 2016) jm17802.jpg
The Gipsy Kings performing in Germany (2016)
Background information
OriginArles, Provence, South of France
GenresSpanish rumba, pop, rock
Years active1978–present
LabelsElektra, Nonesuch, Columbia/SME
MembersNicolas Reyes
Tonino Baliardo
Past membersCanut Reyes
Chico Bouchikhi
Andre Reyes
Jacques Baliardo
Maurice Baliardo
Pablo Reyes
Patchai Reyes
Jorge Trasante

The Gipsy Kings are a group of flamenco, salsa and pop musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France who perform in a mixture of languages, mostly in Spanish, but also mixing dialects from the South of France.[1] Although group members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanos, Spanish gypsies who fled Spain during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. They are known for bringing Spanish rumba, a pop-oriented music distantly derived from traditional flamenco music, to worldwide audiences. The group originally called itself Los Reyes.

Their music has a particular rumba flamenca style, with pop influences; many songs of the Gipsy Kings fit social dances, such as salsa and rumba. Their music has been described as a place where "Spanish flamenco and gypsy rhapsody meet salsa funk".[2]


The Gipsy Kings, born in France but brought up with 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 Andre Reyes, the sons of flamenco artist Jose Reyes, teamed up with their cousins Jacques, Maurice, and Tonino Baliardo.[2] Manitas de Plata and Jose Reyes were a duo who triggered the wider popularity of rumba flamenca (also known as Spanish or gypsy rumba). It was famous singer Reyes, however, who was mostly responsible for the new surge of popular interest when he left Manitas de Plata and started a band of his own, made up of his own sons, which he called "Los Reyes" (as well as being the 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 colour 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 line-up featured a combination of left, and right-handed guitarists; three of the Reyes brothers (Nicolas, Andre', 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]


They became popular with their self-titled third album, Gipsy Kings, which included the songs "Djobi Djoba", "Bamboléo", and the romantic ballad "Un Amor". Gipsy Kings was popular throughout Europe and in Africa, as well as in the Middle East.[citation needed]

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]

The band have been criticised by flamenco purists, but Nicolas Reyes said in an interview that the flamenco world is not in great shape itself and that the band are proud of their success; the Compas album 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.


The Gipsy Kings have collaborated with many renowned artists. These include "Speaking of Dreams" with Joan Baez in 1990, a duet of "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]


The Gipsy Kings consisted of two parent families: Reyes and Baliardo. The Reyes brothers are nephews of Manitas de Plata. The Baliardo brothers are sons of Manitas de Plata.[7]

  • Nicolas Reyes – founder, lead singer, son of Jose Reyes
  • François (Canut) Reyes – vocal, guitar, son of Jose Reyes
  • Andre Reyes – vocal, guitar, son of Jose Reyes
  • Patchai Reyes – vocal, guitar, son of Jose Reyes
  • Pablo (Paul) Reyes – guitar, son of Jose Reyes
  • Tonino Baliardo – founder, lead guitarist
  • Diego Baliardo – guitar
  • Paco Baliardo – guitar

Chico Bouchikhi, a son-in-law of Jose Reyes, was also a member of the group, but he left after the album Mosaïque to create his own band Chico & The Gypsies. Note: As of 2015, only founding/original members Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo remain in the current Gipsy Kings line-up; current tour promotional notices bill them as "The Gipsy Kings (featuring Nicolas Reyes and Tonino Baliardo)"



Live albums
  • 1992: Live – Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album
  • 2014: Gipsy Kings Live
Compilation albums


Year Single Charts Certification Album
FIMI Dutch Singles Chart Ultratop Media Control Charts Austrian Singles Chart Swiss Singles Chart Irish Singles Chart UK Singles Chart Australian Singles Chart Hot Dance Club Songs Hot Latin Songs
1987 "Djobi, Djoba" 15 Gipsy Kings
"Bamboléo" 7
"Djobi, Djoba / Bamboléo" (double A side) 3
1988 "Bamboléo" (US/EUR) 3 5 23 18 12 6
"Djobi, Djoba" (US/NED) 34
"Bem Bem Maria"
1989 "A Mi Manera (My Way)"
"Bamboléo" (UK/AUS) 19
"Vamos A Bailar" 3 Mosaique
"Soy" 20 43 25
"Volare" 16 31 26 24 1
1990 "Caminando Por La Calle"
1991 "Hotel California" Rubáiyát: Elektra's 40th Anniversary
"Baila Me" 36 5 7 16 10 27 9 Este Mundo
"Sin Ella" 80 12
1992 "Pida Me La" 28 22 39 68 22 Greatest Hits
"Quiero Saber" 25 Live
1993 "La Quiero" Love & Liberté
"Escucha Me" 61
1994 "No Viviré" 29
"Summer Mixes - Hits Medley" 13 34 18 53 Greatest Hits
1995 "La Rumba De Nicolas" Estrellas
"A Ti A Ti"
1997 "Solo Por Ti (Amiwawa)" 22 Compas
"Lo Mal Y Lo Bien"
1998 "Oh Eh Oh Eh / La Fiesta Comenza" Various Artists - Allez! Ola! Olé!
1999 "Hotel California & Hit Mix '99" single only
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.



  • 1989: Live at the Royal Albert Hall – concert filmed for world tour of album Gipsy Kings
  • 1991: US Tour 1990 – filmed by Freddy Hauser, a concert in July 1990 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles during the tour for album Mosaïque
  • 2005: Live at the Kenwood House of London – concert during the album Roots


  • 1990: Fuego! The videos – compilation of Gipsy Kings videos
  • 2004: "Roots: The Recordings" - Bonus DVD with the Special Edition of their "Roots" Album

Other appearances[edit]

  • 1999: "Captain Jack Feat. The Gipsy Kings – Get Up!" (single)
  • 2009: Zorro – A New West End Musical By The Gipsy Kings (soundtrack)

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b 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.
  9. ^ "Gypsy Kings discography page". Retrieved 2015-01-28.

External links[edit]