From Gipsy Kings to Gipsy Royale: A 'Bamboleo' Rebirth
Manager Miles Copeland bets on a newly created flamenco rumba group that could bring “Bamboleo” back, again.
For members of a certain generation, the Gipsy Kings’ 1987 international hit “Bamboleo” can still bring back fuzzy memories of dancing on tables while drinking bad sangria. Emblematic of a late 20th-century music boom -- and extended happy hours -- the French band of brothers of Catalan heritage went on to record more than a dozen follow-ups to their self-titled debut, selling almost 5 million albums in the United States alone.
The urge to break out into flamenco arms while singing “bem, bem, bem” has proved enduring. Even the cast of Glee performed “Bamboleo,” albeit a rather bizarre mash-up of the song fused with Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero,” which the TV classmates sang while wearing the long, curved, pointy boots popular among Regional Mexican fans in Texas.
Nearly 30 years after their debut album, the Gipsy Kings are still going: They kick off a series of 22 U.S. dates on May 27 in Anaheim, Calif.
Copeland has just signed Gipsy Royale, a new group created after the original Gipsy Kings split ranks in 2014. While an ensemble that includes two of the original members is still performing under the familiar name, three other Gipsy Kings founders have now formed a different band, together with their sons and five other musicians.
“It reminds me of when Michael Flatley left River Dance and formed Lords of the Dance,” Copeland says. “It’s interchangeable.”
Copeland signed the new group after the members reached out and presented their act to him in a private showcase.
“I’ve always been a fan of [Gipsy Kings],” he says. “I always thought they could be bigger, but it was really kind of a money machine and everybody had their hand out. I don’t think it was very well-handled.”
“We want to bring in fresh elements,” Copeland says, adding that the younger musicians in Gipsy Royale will appeal to a new generation. “We also want to satisfy the expectations that people already have when they see this group, because people love that sound.”
The outspoken Copeland, who has been referred to as a Svengali, decamped from the rock 'n' roll world in recent years to concentrate on what he describes as the global performing arts market. He launched the dance troupe known as the Bellydance Superstars, which have performed over 800 shows in 22 countries, and currently produces a Latin music revue called Latin Passion, which is set for an upcoming tour of China.
“I’ve always been very interested in shows that have a brand already or shows that cater to a known audience,” he notes. “When I was working with rock 'n' roll bands, you start off with a band and you’re the hero, you’re the big guy. Then once they get to be famous, you’re just a another shmuck. … So I’ve looked with admiration at things like Riverdance and Blue Man Group. It’s like a Starbucks: You get the formula right and then you roll it out across the world. That sort of formula is interesting to me. You’re not so dependent on some star who might just end up being a jerk.”
With Gipsy Royale, Copeland plans to benefit both from his experience with theatrical dance and music tours and the recognition of the Gipsy Kings’ sound, selling the new band’s show to more markets and different audiences.
“I’m happy that Gipsy Royale is a new name and we can approach it with a fresh start," he says. “There is already a fan base of people who are into these guys. I’ve had a couple of inquiries for as early as October for tour dates. We figure next year will be the bang-up tour, but we’re open for business as of today.”