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This article by Sally Friedman was prepared for the February 19, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Romantic Sounds of Julio
`When I sing, I make love’
Who else but Julio Iglesias could say that — and
get away with it? Even on the brink of his 60th birthday, Iglesias
is first, last, and always a Latin lover. And when he brings his show
to the State Theater in New Brunswick on Tuesday, February 25, you
can be sure that women in the audience will be unabashedly swooning.
"Oh yes, I like that," said the international heartthrob during
a recent free-ranging phone interview. "I like to please the ladies,
and I hope I do."
Iglesias has been "pleasing the ladies" to the tune of 2,650
gold and platinum records, 77 albums, and more than 250 million individual
recorded units — a yet-unbroken record in world music history.
And it all began, ironically, out of tragedy.
"The accident that changed my life was truly horrible," says
Iglesias, referring to a devastating 1963 automobile accident in his
native Madrid during his first career as a professional soccer player.
A goalkeeper for the Real Madrid team, Iglesias, the son of a prominent
surgeon, had dreams of life as a star athlete when the near-fatal
accident resulted in 14 hours of surgery and left him partially paralyzed
for two very long years.
During his recuperation period, a friend of his father’s gave the
struggling patient an old guitar; Iglesias began to pass the hours
strumming, singing, and ultimately composing music.
"I’m very grateful for my life — and very grateful that out
of something terrible came something very good," he says.
By 1968, Iglesias, who had auditioned for his high school choir and
been turned down a few years earlier, had won Spain’s most prestigious
song festival. The song, an original composition, was aptly titled
"The Vida Sigue Igual" — "Life Goes On."
It surely did go on for Iglesias, as he carved out an international
reputation, and drew crowds of up to 100,000 at a single concert within
a decade of his debut. His first release in English came in 1984 when
he sang in duet with Willie Nelson. Today their duo, "To All the
Girls I’ve Loved Before," is regarded as a classic of 20th century
love songs. Just a year later, this Spanish crooner got all-American
recognition, his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Highlights of Iglesias’ long career include his being named by UNICEF
as a Special Representative in the Performing Arts in 1989; his being
the first foreigner in the history of China to receive that country’s
Golden Record Award in 1996; and his 1998 American Music Award as
Best Latin Artist.
Iglesias will be the first to admit that his style changes as he roams
the globe. "In the United States, I’m more casual and relaxed
because that’s the American style," he says. "I talk to the
audience more, and it’s more informal."
But behind that easygoing stage manner lives a highly driven man.
"In the end, I believe that discipline is the reason for my success,"
says the singer. Since his accident, Iglesias has followed a demanding
physical regimen and will not allow himself to deviate for any reason.
"Many people have talent — but those who make it also must
have two other things: passion and discipline. I try to have both
of these every day of my life."
Following a demanding schedule of 300 concerts a year, Iglesias juggles
his professional life with another role: he is the father of seven
children, four of them, including two-year-old twins, born since 1997.
One of them, "Hearthtrob, Junior," is Iglesias’ singing son
Enrique, who currently sells millions of records in the United States.
"I’m very proud of Enrique — he is a very fine young man and
a fine singer. But he needs to find his own way — he doesn’t need
his father telling him what to do," he says.
Still, Julio Iglesias would, in his own words, " — love to
sing together with my boy" — but not until the time is right.
And when will that be? "We’ll both know when it is," says
Iglesias. "These are things a father and son understand —
maybe better than we can explain it."
Iglesias ends with another thought about life — and about parenthood.
"You can give those you love the best values — but you can’t
force on them your advice. That they have to want to accept on their
— Sally Friedman
New Brunswick, 877-782-8311. $25-$75. Tuesday, February 25, 8 p.m.
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