Spanish singer Rocio Jurado died today (June 1) at her Madrid home after a two-year fight against cancer of the pancreas. She was 61. She will be buried on tomorrow in her southern Spanish hometown of Chipiona, in the flamenco music heartland region of Andalucia.
Jurado’s style enveloped the Andalucian specialities of copla, flamenco, and “Spanish song,” but her latter success — especially in Latin America and U.S. Latin markets — was based on her torrential romantic ballads.
The singer recorded her first album, “Rocio Jurado” (Sony BMG) in 1969, at the age of 25. She went on to earn five platinum discs and more than 30 gold discs.
In 1988, she received the Las Vegas America Trophy in 1988. Two years later she received a star on Miami’s Calle 8. She also earned several awards from the Assn. of Foreign Journalists, including best album of the year twice — “Señora” in 1980 and “Paloma Brava” in 1985 — and for voice of the millennium in 2000. Her numerous awards in Latin America include a Mexico City Gold Disc award for the album “La Más Grande”” (2000). All albums are available of Sony BMG.
Jurado won her first radio award, on Radio Sevilla, aged 14; a year later she was singing in a Madrid flamenco “tablao” or tavern. Her film debut was in “Los Guerrilleros” from 1963. She went on to feature in eight films. Rocio was voted Lady España in 1967, Lady Europa in 1968, and came third in the 1969 Miss Europe contest.
In 1976 she married boxer Pedro Carrasco, who in 1971 had been world lightweight champion. She has a daughter from that marriage, Rocio Carrasco, now 29. In 1995, Jurado married bullfighter José Ortega Cano, who survives her. The couple adopted two Colombian children in 1999.
In the summer of 2004, she summoned a press conference at her home to reveal she had cancer of the pancreas. Her mother had died of the same illness.
Her last performance was on December 20, 2005, when Spanish state television channel TVE broadcast a homage during which she performed duets with several artists including David Bisbal, Chayanne, Raphael, Paulina Rubio, Lolita and Monica Naranjo. She performed all her best-known songs, including “Si Amanece,” “Como Una Ola,” “Como Yo Te Amo,” “Mi Amante Amigo,” and “Lo Siento Mi Amor.”
The songs were released in January on a CD-DVD “Rocio Siempre” (Sony BMG). The record has spent 17 weeks on Spain’s Media Control album charts, peaking at No. 3.
Spanish Academy award-winning film director Pedro Almodovar was one of dozens of leading artists who visited her at the funeral chapel. He told reporters, “Women like her do not die. Rocio Jurado forms part of the biography of this country, together with [singers] Rocio Durcal (who died in March) and Lola Flores (who died in 1995).