José Padilla, DJ Who Pioneered the Balearic Sound, Dies at 65

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DJ Jose Padilla, Cafe Del Mar, Ibiza 1994

José Padilla, one of the architects of the Balearic sound whose chillout sets were the soundtrack to countless Ibiza sunsets, died Sunday (Oct. 18) after a months-long battle with colon cancer. He was 65.

Padilla passed away "peacefully in his sleep" on his beloved island of Ibiza, reads a statement posted on the late artist’s social channels.

“Now he has gone and the sunset in Ibiza will never be the same without him," the message continues, "but the beautiful music of Jose Padilla will stay with us forever.”

The celebrated Spanish DJ and producer traveled from his hometown Barcelona to Ibiza in 1975, where he would later settle in for his legendary Café Del Mar residency and forge a reputation as the godfather of chill-out music.

Padilla’s sunset mixes spawned the popular Café del Mar compilation albums, which have sold more than six million copies around the globe, according to his reps.

As a producer, Padilla cut remixes for Norah Jones, Chris Rea and others, he would take his tunes to clubs and parties around the globe, and he counted Madonna among his fans.

His first artist album, 1998’s Souvenir, went on to earn a Latin Grammy nomination for best instrumental work.

As his health deteriorated in recent months and the pandemic saw his income dry up, Padilla launched a GoFundMe. “My situation is very bad,” he wrote in a post July 5. He later underwent surgery and on Aug. 21 updated his supporters with the news that he was “starting on the long road to recovery.”

The electronic music world paid tribute to the late chill-out master.

Legendary British DJ Carl Cox described Padilla as “a friend, and a true legend of Ibiza,” while fellow Brit Rob da Bank recounted how "Jose made me cry with a beautifully synced sunset... he made so many moments like that for people."