Over the years the Gipsy Kings—whose members hail from the gypsy settlements in Arles and Montpelier in the south of France—have included singers and guitarists from the Reyes (Canut, Nicolas, Pablo and Patchai) and Baliardo families (Diego, Paco and Tonino). Lead singer Nicolas Reyes is the son of famed Flamenco singer José Reyes, who, with Manitas de Plata, sold millions of records in the 1960s and 70s. The band’s vigorous guitar work and passionate vocals are the trademarks of an indigenous musical tradition known as “rumba flamenca.”
There are no other examples of a non-English speaking band (the group’s language is the Gypsy dialect of gitane) with such a consistent winning streak in the U.S., where the group is the biggest-selling French act ever. Since the 1987 release of the international hit single “Bamboleo,” from their platinum-selling eponymous debut album, the Gipsy Kings have dominated the World Music charts and sold more than fourteen million albums worldwide—more than four million in the United States alone. Their platinum compilation, The Best of the Gipsy Kings, was on the charts for more than a year.