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About Chico & The Gypsies

Gipsy Kings founding member Jahloul "Chico" Bouchikhi formed Chico & the Gypsies after falling out with Gipsy Kings manager Claude Martinez in 1991. The group quickly attracted attention, selling more than 200,000 copies of their debut album Vagabundo. The son of North African immigrants, Bouchikhi was 12 years old when he met the children of influential Gypsy singer Jose Reyes. Spending most of his time at Reyes' encampment, he taught himself to play guitar at the age of 17. He ingrained himself into the Reyes family even further after marrying Reyes' daughter Marthe. Before Reyes' death, he named Bouchikhi his successor as leader of the family's band. Originally named Los Reyes, the group performed every summer on the beaches of Saint Tropez. Renamed the Gipsy Kings in 1983, they continued to build a very loyal fan base. Commercial success, however, continued to be elusive. In 1986, the Reyes brothers temporarily left music. Bouchikhi remained the only bandmember to live in a Gypsy caravan, under the Arles Bridge. In 1988, he helped to organize a Romany Arts Festival. Returning to music in 1989, Bouchikhi and the Gypsy Kings successfully reached out to the international marketplace, releasing eight top-selling albums between 1988 and 1991. Leaving the Gipsy Kings in 1991, Bouchikhi formed Chico & the Gypsies with musicians from Arles and Montpelier. He continues to serve as a special envoy for peace for UNESCO. ~ Craig Harris

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