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Gipsy Kings

The Gipsy Kings
A 2007 live performance, in Brussels, Belgium
Background information
Origin Arles, Provence, France
Genres Catalan rumba, rumba flamenca, pop
Years active 1978–present
Labels Elektra, Nonesuch, Columbia/SME Records
Website .com.gipsykingswww
Members Nicolas Reyes, Tonino Baliardo
Past members
Canut Reyes, Andre Reyes, Jacques Baliardo, Maurice Baliardo, Jorge Trasante

The Gipsy Kings are a group of musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France who perform in Spanish with an Andalusian accent.

Although group members were born in France, their parents were mostly gitanos, Spanish gypsies who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. They are known for bringing Catalan 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".[1]


  • Career 1
    • Success 1.1
  • Solo projects 2
  • Collaborations 3
  • Members 4
  • Discography 5
    • Albums 5.1
    • Singles 5.2
  • DVDs 6
    • Concerts 6.1
    • Other 6.2
  • Other appearances 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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 world-wide 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.[1] Manitas de Plata and Jose Reyes were a duo which had 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 Baliardo's guitar playing and Nicolas Reyes' voice.

The three left-handed guitarists in the Gipsy Kings' line-up play guitars that are strung for right-handers, playing them upside-down. These left-handed performers focus on delivering the strong underpinning rhythms while the more complex leads are performed by the right-handed and conventionally styled Baliardo.


They became popular with their self-titled first 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.

In 1989 the Gipsy Kings was released in the United States and spent 40 weeks on the charts, one of few Spanish language albums to do so.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Solo projects

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 although pirated copies found their way into the hands of fans and were released online. Tonino Baliardo released his own instrumental album Essences in 2001, re-released in 2003.


Gipsy Kings have collaborated with many renowned artists. These include "Speaking of Dream" 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.


The Gipsy Kings consist of two parent families: Reyes and Baliardo. They are nephews of Manitas de Plata .

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



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) 87 19
"Vamos A Bailar" 3 Mosaique
"Soy" 20 43 25
"Volare" 16 31 26 24 86 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

Other appearances

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

See also


  1. ^ a b Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. Scarecrow Press. pp. 143–145.  
  2. ^ Gray, Louise (2009). The No-Nonsense Guide to World Music. New Internationalist. pp. 23–25.  
  3. ^ Jones, Jenny M. (2012). The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time. Voyageur Press. p. 136.  
  4. ^ " [The Gipsy Kings record the theme for 'Toy Story 3']'"Los Gipsy Kings graban un tema para 'Toy Story 3. Demasiado Cine (in Español). May 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ Wald, Elijah (2007). Global Minstrels: Voices of World Music. Routledge. pp. 192–194.  
  6. ^ "Grammys 2014: The complete list of nominees and winners".  
  7. ^ "Gypsy Kings discography page". Retrieved 2015-01-28. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Gipsy Kings's channel on YouTube
  • "Samba Samba" on SoundCloud
  • Gipsy Kings on
  • Gipsy Kings at AllMusic
  • Gipsy Kings info at (Spanish)
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