There are no words to express the sadness and the enormous sense of loss at the news that the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía has died.

Paco de Lucía at a press conference in London

Photograph ©2007 Thérèse Wassily Saba

Paco de Lucía was on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, with his family, when he felt unwell and asked to be taken to hospital; there he had a heart attack but they were unable to save his life.

He was just 66 years old and still touring. On his last tour in November 2013, he gave concerts throughout South America: two concerts in Río de Janeiro and further concerts in Porto Alegre and São Paulo in Brazil, two concerts in Buenos Aires and further concerts in Rosario and Córdoba in Argentina, a concert in Montevideo, Uruguay, ending the tour with a concert in Santiago de Chile on 23 November 2013.

In 2012 he won the Latin Grammy in the category of Best Flamenco Album for his Paco de Lucía en Vivo

His family has issued an official statement in Spanish:

‘Miércoles 26 de febrero de 2014… el dolor ya tiene fecha para nuestra familia. Anoche se nos fue el padre, el hermano, el tío, el amigo y se nos fue el genio Paco de Lucía. No hay consuelo para los que le queremos y le conocemos pero sabemos que para los que le quieren sin conocerle tampoco. Por eso, queremos compartir con todos ustedes un abrazo y una lágrima pero también nuestra convicción de que Paco vivió como quiso y murió jugando con sus hijos al lado del mar. La vida nos lo prestó unos maravillosos años en los que llenó este mundo de belleza y ahora se lo lleva… Gracias por tanto… y buen viaje amado nuestro.’

In Algeciras, they have officially decreed three days of mourning and the flags are at half-mast. This means that they have suspended all the Carnaval celebrations and the commemorative celebrations for the 28-F, the Día de Andalucía. Paco de Lucía was bestowed with the honour of ‘Hijo Predilecto de la Provincia de Cádiz’ on 19 March 1997 and he is very much a ‘favourite son’.

Paco de Lucía comes from a family of high-respected flamenco musicians: his father, Antonio Sánchez Pecino ‘Antonio de Algeciras’ was a flamenco guitarist; his older brother was the flamenco guitarist Ramón de Algeciras (1938–2009), who performed with him always in his ensemble; his younger brother is the flamenco singer Pepe de Lucía (b. 1945); and his niece is also an outstanding singer, the daughter of Pepe, she is known artistically as Malú (María Lucía Sánchez, b. 1982) – she released her first recording, Aprendizin 1998, when she wasn’t quite 16 years old and it sold over half a million copies in Spain.

The Mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, has announced that Paco de Lucía will be buried in the cemetery in Algeciras, which was his wish. A Chapel is being prepared in the Auditorio Nacional of Madrid for Friday 28 February 2014, when Paco de Lucía’s body will return to Spain. It will then be transferred to Algeciras. The coffin will be in the Salón de Plenos of the Casa Consistorial of the Ayuntamiento of Algeciras, where it will be open to the public who wish to pay their respects, from 00.30 on Saturday 1 March 2014 until 12.30. The funeral ceremony in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Palma on Saturday 1 March 2014 will commence at 13.00.

Paco de Lucía (Francisco Sánchez Gómez) was born in Algeciras, Spain on 21 December 1947. He died in Mexico on 25 February 2014. He is survived by the three children, Casilda (1978), Lucía (1979) and Francisco, known affectionately as ‘Curro’ (1983) from his first marriage to Casilda Varela Ampuero in 1977 (after being engaged for 8 years); and his second partner, Gabriela Canseco, and their two children 14-year-old Antonia and 7-year-old Diego.

© 2014 Thérèse Wassily Saba