Rocío Jurado

Rocío Jurado was a world-famous Spanish singer who was born in Chipiona in 1944. This part of Spain has given the world many great figures of traditional flamenco, such as Lola Flores and Camarón de la Isla, as well as many more whose names are less well-known.

With a career lasting more than four decades, the actress and singer Rocío Jurado was known throughout Spain and Latin America as “la mas grande de España” (“Spain’s greatest”). First achieving fame as an actress while still in her teens, she appeared in a dozen films, but found greater success as a recording artist, releasing more than 30 albums spanning flamenco, traditional copla and “canción ligera” (romantic ballads).

Her art was probably inherited from her grandmother, her father and her mother, who was a fine singer of romantic Spanish songs known as “coplas”. Her father, a humble shoemaker, loved gypsy culture and was a master of “Cante Jondo”, pure flamenco, although did not sing professionally.

Rocío made her first public appearance at the age of eight in a school play. Her singing talent was first recognised outside Chipiona in 1958, during a contest organised by Radio Sevilla at Teatro Álvarez Quintero in the city, where the 13-year-old Rocío won a prize that included 200 pesetas, a bottle of lemonade and a pair of stockings.

After her father’s death the following year, her mother moved the family to Madrid, where Rocío began her career in show business. In 1962 she won first prize in the fandangos category at the first Concurso Internacional de Arte Flamenco in Jerez, and in the same year made her film début in Los Guerrilleros (“The Guerrilla Fighters”), appearing alongside Manolo Escobar. By the end of the 1960s, she had appeared in two more films, won third place in the 1969 Miss Europe beauty contest and launched her singing career with her eponymous début LP.

The following decade saw her collaborating with the songwriter Manuel Alejandro in a partnership that won her an enormous following in Latin America, with hits like “Muera el Amor” (“I wish love would die”) and “Señora”. Other big successes included “Como una Ola” (“Like a Wave”) and “Si Amanece” (“If Dawn Breaks”). There were gold and platinum discs, and awards including Album of the Year in Spain in 1980 and 1985 – the same year she sang at the White House for President Ronald Reagan. She was named Carnival Queen in Miami, and has a Star on Calle Ocho in that city, which has a day dedicated to her. She received a gold medal of the arts from King Juan Carlos of Spain, was named “favorite daughter” of Cádiz province and “adopted daughter” of Chipiona, where she received a medal for touristic promotion. Her songs are known around the world.

Her private life was of as much interest to her fans as her public profile. In 1976, she married the boxer Pedro Carrasco; the marriage was famously turbulent, but produced a daughter, Rocío, and lasted until 1992. On her 46th birthday, she had met the bullfighter José Ortega Cano, and they married five years later, in 1995, adopting two Colombian children.

Rocío was known for her glamorous lifestyle (she owned a ranch in Seville as well as two homes in Miami and one in Madrid), her flame-haired beauty and a velvety pitch-perfect voice. An exuberant stage manner earned her comparisons with Edith Piaf and Shirley Bassey, but also made her the subject of parodies. She took these in her stride, courting publicity with humour and sophistication.

She transformed the presentation of “copla” by wearing flamboyant evening dresses in her performances, although she never stop wearing the typical flamenco costume. She is known as “The Force”, “The Power”, “The Artist”, “The Biggest”, “The Cantaora” and “The Voice”, because she delivers all the flamenco styles, bulerías, seguidillas, ballads, coplas, rancheras and blues, tanguillos, romances and peteneras.

Her last TV performance was on December 21, 2005, reaching an audience of 3.5 million viewers. She died in 2006 and is buried in the San José Cemetery in Chipiona.

ROCIO JURADO RELATED SITES

1. ROCÍO JURADO MAUSOLEUM

She is remembered with a mausoleum since 2008. The bronze sculpture shows the artist sitting on a marble structure, under a glass pyramid, wearing a traditional flamenco outfit, with a carnation in her left hand a carnation and a Virgen de Regla Medal in her right hand.

2. AVENUE ROCIO JURADO

This street has been named “Avenue Rocío Jurado” since June 27, 1977, when the mayor of the town was Antonio Rodríguez Caballero. The idea was to create a neighbourhood whose streets are named after Spanish copla figures (others include Paquita Rico, Juanita Reina and Gracia Montes).

In this avenue is the Rocío Jurado monument. The statue faces the neighborhood where she was born. It is a full-length standing figure measuring 2.4 meters high, surrounded by pilasters (8 meters). It is a bronze statue by Juan de Ávalos.

3. EL BARRIO/CALLE LARGA

The house where she was born is in this street, and there is a commemorative plaque attached to the wall of the house. Here lived Rocio with her parents, Fernando Mohedano and Rosario Jurado and her brothers Amador and Gloria.

4. PLAZA JUAN CARLOS I

In this square Rocío received the medal for touristic promotion thanks to the Centre for Tourism Initiatives in Chipiona chaired by José Díaz Martín, in April 1984. Thousands of people attended, including the president of the Junta de Andalucía, D. José Rodríguez de la Borbolla and his wife, the general director for tourism, Miguel Villegas, the President of the County council of Cadiz, Alfonso Perales, the Civil Governor Mariano Baquedano and the Local Corporation.

5. TANI BAR

Ricardo Naval has turned his bar into a tribute to the Copla. There we find many pictures of the artist as well as press clippings. Ministers, mayors, artists and all aristocrats have visited this museum-bar, and many secrets are kept between its four walls. It is located in the middle of Calle Isaac Peral.

6. SANTUARIO DE REGLA

Everybody knows of Rocio Jurado’s devotion to the Virgen de Regla, the town’s patron. On May 21, 1976, Rocío got married in this church with the famous boxer Pedro Carrasco. She arrived at the church in a horse-drawn carriage, all the city residents came out to cheer her and there were fireworks in her honour.

In the church square, opposite the Sanctuary and by the sea, Rocío held a concert with the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra and the guitarist Enrique de Melchor in support of the International Center for Music. The 5,000 chairs arranged were insufficient, because more than 7,000 people attended this concert.

7. AVENIDA DE REGLA

In this street you can see the artist’s home in Chipiona. In this house Rocío and her family watched the “Virgin of Regla” procession every year on 8th September. On the façade, thousands of people have left written messages on her memory.

8. THE BEACHES OF LAS CANTERAS AND CAMARÓN

On Las Canteras beach the video of the song “Me ha dicho la luna” was filmed, and on Playa Camarón some scenes of the film “La Lola se va a los puertos” were filmed. People from Chipiona were movie extras.