Thanks to Martinez, the Kings began to relax a bit and take on a more contemporary edge, combining their traditional songs with sounds from the Middle East, Latin America, North Africa, a hint of rock, and their inimitable joy. It was, in a music industry filled with flamenco purists who resisted any kind of change, a very daring move, and many felt the Gipsy Kings would fall flat and disappear. But the naysayers were wrong. In 1987 they released "Djobi Djoba" and "Bamboleo" on an independent label and scored two smash hits in France. Their success led them to sign with Sony Music
and release their eponymous debut album later that year. Again, they had tremendous sales in France, and then found their album was appearing on the Top Ten album charts in 12 European countries, including England, which is traditionally unreceptive to international music.
In the late '80s, the Gipsy Kings, debuted in the U.S. at the New York New Music Seminar. This led them to sign to Sony
in America. In 1989, they were invited to perform at the inaugural ball for George Bush, but they chose to return home to rest and be with their families. Later that year, they held an SRO concert at the Royal Albert Hall, where the Gipsy Kings hobnobbed with some of the world's biggest pop stars, including Elton John
and Eric Clapton
. To top off their great year, the Kings' debut album spent 40 weeks on the U.S. charts and went gold, becoming one of the few Spanish albums to do so. The Kings have had an active release schedule ever since, including the albums Mosaique (1989), Live! (1992), Love & Liberte (1994), Tierra Gitana (1996), Cantos de Amor (1998), Somos Gitanos (2001), and Roots (2004). After extended touring, a new studio album Pasajero appeared in 2007, followed later that year by Live in Los Angeles. The Gipsy Kings continued touring the globe almost incessantly before taking an extended break during which several greatest-hits and best-of compilations appeared. In September of 2013, the band celebrated its 25th anniversary with the release of Savor Flamenco. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi