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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

own."

— Sally Friedman

Julio Iglesias, State Theater, Livingston Avenue,

New Brunswick, 877-782-8311. $25-$75. Tuesday, February 25, 8 p.m.


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