Igle­sias looks back on ‘mir­a­cle’ life

The Prince George Citizen - - A & E -

At 75 and af­ter a five-decade­long ca­reer, Julio Igle­sias keeps per­form­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, driven by his pas­sion and, above all, a re­lent­less dis­ci­pline.

It’s some­thing the Span­ish crooner says he had to learn early on, af­ter a nearly fa­tal car ac­ci­dent frus­trated his plans to play pro­fes­sional soc­cer.

“In fact, my life has been a mir­a­cle,” says Igle­sias, re­call­ing how he spent “months and months” in bed un­able to move, and then needed canes to walk for more than two years.

The “mag­i­cal” ac­ci­dent – as he calls it to­day – stripped him of his phys­i­cal strength and his life as he knew it, but it also gave him a greater aware­ness of other peo­ple’s strug­gles and helped him learn to fight, to lis­ten, to look peo­ple in the eye. “You see life dif­fer­ently, you learn to live again,” Igle­sias says.

It also put him in the path of mu­sic. While Igle­sias was strug­gling to move his arms and fin­gers, his physi­cian-fa­ther’s as­sis­tant gave him an old gui­tar as a gift.

“I learned five or six har­monies from a mu­sic book that I had, don’t think I learned much more than that be­cause I couldn’t move my fin­gers that fast. That is why my first songs have two or three har­monies,” the singer re­calls with a laugh.

But those few chords were more than enough to launch an im­pres­sive ca­reer.

Igle­sias, who also stud­ied law, de­buted in 1969 with the al­bum Yo canto and went on to be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful singers in the world, with more than 250 mil­lion records sold around the globe.

He has re­ceived awards and ac­co­lades that in­clude the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts from Spain, was named a knight of France’s Le­gion of Honor and, early this year, he re­ceived a Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the Gram­mys. He is cur­rently tour­ing in Europe ahead of a series of shows in the U.S. that be­gin Sept. 14 in Bos­ton.

How does he do it? “Ev­ery­thing was a big­ger strug­gle for me, ev­ery­thing re­quired a big­ger ef­fort, so I un­der­stood that the sole ba­sis for my fu­ture was dis­ci­pline, and I main­tain that dis­ci­pline to­day, at 75,” Igle­sias as­sures. “I mean, go­ing out on­stage to sing is an act of dis­ci­pline and of ab­so­lute pas­sion. Pas­sion is nat­u­ral, but dis­ci­pline is willpower.”

In a re­cent in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, where he lives, Igle­sias spoke about his life, his ca­reer, his fam­ily and his re­grets. Re­marks have been edited for clar­ity and brevity.

AP: It’s been 50 years since the re­lease of Yo canto and here you are, still singing strong. Be­sides dis­ci­pline, what else has worked for you? Any ad­vice for the younger gen­er­a­tions?

Igle­sias: Giv­ing ad­vice is very easy... but giv­ing ad­vice to younger peo­ple is hard. I have two older sons that sing, Julio and En­rique, and they don’t al­low me to give them ad­vice. They don’t, nei­ther of them. And when we start talk­ing about mu­sic, the con­ver­sa­tion takes a dif­fer­ent turn and goes to other places be­cause they need their own free will, the ab­so­lute free­dom to choose what they like. That is im­por­tant.

AP: How did you de­velop that unique singing style?

Igle­sias: In life, it is very im­por­tant to be nat­u­ral, be­cause

that’s what creates your style. Good or bad, liked or dis­liked, but your style has to be un­mis­tak­able. When we speak of Pavarotti, Placido, Car­reras or Bo­celli, we are fun­da­men­tally speak­ing about great styles. I think the style is more im­por­tant than the voice.

AP: In ret­ro­spec­tive, any­thing you re­gret about your life or your ca­reer?

Igle­sias: I re­gret not hav­ing taken more ad­van­tage of time – of the so­lid­ity of time, the in­ten­tion of time. That’s why I don’t like to sleep much any­more. Had I known when I was 20 that I was go­ing to be a mu­si­cian, I would have taken to the pi­ano, I would have taken the gui­tar more se­ri­ously, I would have per­fected my knowl­edge of mu­sic.

AP: But here you are, one of the big­gest artists in the world half a cen­tury later. You didn’t do so


Igle­sias: No, but I think you must learn as much as you can, and also know how to learn. A few days ago, I re­called when I had a huge Amer­i­can suc­cess with the al­bum 1100 Bel Air Place and I gave 12 or 14 con­certs at the Uni­ver­sal Am­phithe­ater. Gene Kelly, Fred As­taire, Bob Hope, leg­endary artists that have since passed away, came to see me, and I didn’t make the time. It didn’t oc­cur to me to ap­proach them, to have din­ner with them and ask them about their lives to learn from them.

AP: You ca­reer de­manded con­stant trav­el­ling. Would you have liked to spend more time with your fam­ily?

Igle­sias: I don’t think – and I al­ways say this clearly – that it af­fected my re­la­tion­ship with my chil­dren. Quite the op­po­site. En­rique is a singer, Julio is a singer, Cha­beli did tele­vi­sion for many years. Then there is Miguel, the only one who doesn’t like to sing. Ro­drigo, who loves mu­sic. And the younger girls, who now want to be mod­els or some­thing. And my lit­tle Guillermo plays the pi­ano, the drums, he is a nat­u­ral mu­si­cian. I think all those things hap­pened be­cause I opened a high­way for them. Of course, they need to fol­low it, am­plify it and seek other roads, sep­a­rate from that road. But that opened a door that is the door of light, and the door of light is mag­i­cal. That makes me not re­gret it. If I had taken much more care of my chil­dren, they wouldn’t have lights. And I would have lost my time.

AP: At 75, any­thing you would still like to achieve?

Igle­sias: Many things. I like a lot to read; I don’t read that much any­more. I loved to travel; I travel less. In re­al­ity, time puts many things in its place. Stairs seem much longer and steeper. Ev­ery­thing af­ter 65 starts to be a part of your life that you have to le­git­imize based on dis­ci­pline. And give thanks con­tin­u­ously. In fact, my life has been a mir­a­cle. Al­most like a novel: a per­son that plays soc­cer, that has an ac­ci­dent and al­most dies, that stud­ies law and starts to sing, that doesn’t know how to sing and sings, that doesn’t know how to walk and runs, that was a skinny boy and be­comes stronger. I was no­body. And I’m still no­body be­cause deep down we are all no­bod­ies. Deep down it’s the peo­ple that make us some­body.


Julio Igle­sias smiles dur­ing his star un­veil­ing cer­e­mony at the Walk of Fame in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2016.

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