About Manolo García
Catalan Manolo García is an award-winning, multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and painter from Barcelona, Spain. He has sold more than 27 million albums. His expressive, reedy baritone guides carefully crafted songs that wed rock, folk, and flamenco influences to pop hooks. He fronted alternative rockers Los Burros from 1980 to 1983. After their split, García and guitarist/songwriter Quimi Portet founded El Último de la Fila. They released seven hit albums between 1985 and 1998, including the award-winning Cuando la Pobreza Entra por la Puerta, El Amor Salta por la Ventana (1985), and the chart-topping Astronomía Razonable (1993). García's 1998 solo debut, Arena en los Bolsillos, went multi-platinum. 2001's Nunca el Tiempo Es Perdido won two Spanish Amigo Awards for Best Male Vocalist and Best Pop Album. 2004's Para Que No Se Duerman Mis Sentidos was partially recorded in Brazil and left its influence on García's songwriting. He traveled to Crete for 2008's Saldremos a la Lluvia (2008), in collaboration with Ojos de Brujo, which earned platinum certification. The release of 2011's Los Días Intactos (recorded in L.A. and Barcelona) coincided with the publication of his lyric book and his first solo exhibition as a painter. 2014's Todo Es Ahora achieved double-platinum status. 2018's Geometría del Rayo was also certified double platinum and took home the Latin Grammy for Best Pop/Rock Album. García's first acoustic tour in 2019 resulted in the quadruple-length live audio/video package Acústico Acústico Acústico (En Directo), offering unplugged recordings of songs from across his career.
García was born in Poblenou in 1955 near the sub-neighborhood known as Rancho Grande, in Catalonia, Barcelona. His sister is rock singer and producer Carmen García. In an interview, he has said that he began singing as soon as he could talk. He made his public debut singing in the youth choir at the Poblenou Moral and Cultural Center at age eight. He was singing and playing drums with rock bands by the time he was 13. García also loved visual art and began drawing as a child. After high school he considered a career in graphic design -- he won a drawing contest that led to employment in the graphic design studio of an advertising agency. He enrolled in a Barcelona art college and earned his degree.
García never stopped making music with bands, however. At 21, he began freelancing as a designer for record companies. In 1981, after finishing his military service, García hung around playing in various bands before getting his first break: He and other local musicians were called in to perform on Venezuelan singer Sergio Makaroff's debut album Tengo Una Idea, which was recorded in Barcelona.
After completing those sessions, García and the other players went into the studio to record a demo of their own. Using their various record company connections, they made a deal and Los Rapidos were born. Their lone album, Rápidos, was issued in 1980; all of the lyrics and some of the melodies were penned by García. Despite record company support, it sold poorly, despite the band's relentless touring across Spain. They split at the end of 1981.
While awaiting their turn to play a festival stage, García met Kul de Mandril guitarist, singer, and songwriter Quimi Portet. He immediately asked the guitarist if he would join Los Rapidos to complete their tour (their last); Portet agreed. After the band's demise, García, Portet, and drummer Jordi Vila formed Los Burros with bassist Antonio Fidel and guitarist Josep Lluís Pérez. They hit the road without a record deal to hone their chops and learn to write together. They signed with an indie and released the full-length Rebuznos de Amor in 1983. It went nowhere. They split shortly thereafter, and Portet and García formed one of Spain's most important rock bands, El Último de la Fila, in late 1984 and over the ensuing decade, the band changed the face of the genre.
Their 1985 debut long-player, Cuando la Pobreza Entra por la Puerta, El Amor Salta por la Ventana, was released by Virgin International with three of its singles receiving airplay. 1988's Como la Cabeza al Sombrero sold better and charted. EMI offered them their own label and they signed. El Último de la Fila released Nuevo Pequeño Catálogo de Seres y Estares on their Perro Records imprint in 1990. It rode Spain's Top Ten for five months. 1993's Astronomía Razonable showcased a band in transition. In addition to hearty rockers, they explored pop hooks, ballads, and acoustic instruments. The full-length netted six charting singles on the way to a Top Three finish. After a sabbatical, the band issued La Rebelión de los Hombres Frog in 1995; it was their final album. It charted and the tour was sold-out. Nonetheless, in January of 1998 they announced their split.
García went to London to record his solo debut with co-producers Nacho Lesko and Pedro Javier González. Arena en los Bolsillos was released by BMG/Ariola in Spain and Perro Records in Europe. Greeted by a hungry fan base, it proceeded to sell more than 900,000 copies and was certified multi-platinum. That year, García won the Spanish music industry's Friend award for Best Spanish Male Soloist and Best Spanish Album. After touring, he re-emerged in 2001 with the double-length Nunca el Tiempo Es Perdido. Produced solely by González, it was recorded in Gerona, Barcelona, and Paris (Gavin Harrison played drums on the latter sessions) and mixed in Los Angeles. While its songs were more polished -- it was the first time García had used strings on a recording -- it entered the chart at number one and went on to sell more than half-a-million copies.
In 2004, the songwriter returned with Para Que No Se Suerman Mis Sentidos. Once more co-produced by González and Lesko, García traveled to Brazil with a batch of songs he hoped to record. He hung out with studio musicians and absorbed various MPB, samba, and other rhythms, and harmonic approaches. He cut some songs in Brazil with studio aces, and the remainder in Barcelona and Gerona. No matter where he records, the rhythmic influences of Brazil are ever present. Certified platinum, the album topped the Spanish charts and won an industry Waves award for "Best Spanish Artist." For the Christmas season, García released the compilation Singles, Directos y Sirocos, containing two audio discs and a DVD. It included singles alongside five new songs while the second disc offered live versions.
The Catalan songwriter wasn't done traveling, however. In 2007 he toured Latin America and released a special edition of Para Que No Se Suerman Mis Sentidos with two extra songs. From there he traveled to Crete, where he soaked up Greek traditional and pop music and worked with Ojos de Brujo on his new songs. He fell deeply under the spell of Greek song forms such as dimotiko (rural folk music), kanntada (romantic, serenade ballads), and especially rebetiko (or rembetika), the once outlawed music of Greece's poor castoffs and criminals often referred to as the "Greek urban blues." García released Saldremos a la Rain in May of 2008. Self-produced, it was exquisitely mixed by Neil Dorfsman. The set was certified platinum out of the box and entered the chart at number one; it remained on the charts for the rest of the calendar year thanks to a pair of long tours García undertook, resulting in dozens of concerts across Spain.
2011's Los Días Intactos was recorded in Barcelona and Los Angeles. The 14-track release coincided with the publication of a book collecting his lyrics and drawings and the opening of a national solo exhibition of his paintings. Musically, it is much closer to the work of his first two albums, but offered traces of the more expansive sounds that characterized later offerings. The album contained the track "Creyente Bajo Torres de Alta Tensión," with a duet appearance by Catalan singer Ivette Nadal, the first "special guest" to appear on one of García's recordings. It also debuted at number one and was certified triple platinum.
After a long tour and a short break, the artist began to reconsider the places he had been musically, socially, spiritually, and politically. 2014's Todo Es Ahora was recorded between New York City and Gerona with studio aces who drummer Zach Alford and guitarists Earl Slick (David Bowie) and Gerry Leonard. Certified double platinum, it peaked at number two on the Spanish charts and spent 18 weeks inside the Top 40. Just a couple of months after releasing the double-live album Todo Es Ahora (En Directo), García surprised fans and critics with the release of the studio offering Geometría del Rayo in April 2018.
Recorded between Rhinebeck, New York and Gerona, the impeccably recorded set included 16 new songs dedicated to those who cannot live without art. Its laid-back, even lithe songwriting offered some of the most sophisticated yet welcoming compositions in García's career. Featuring an all-star studio cast, it included guest spots by guitarist Toti Soler and Jordi Sabatés from Spain's legendary '60s psych-pop outfit Pic-Nic, and bassist Carles Benavent, who has worked extensively in flamenco and jazz with Miles Davis and John McLaughlin. Certified platinum, it took home the year's Latin Grammy for Best Pop/Rock Album, and was followed by tours of Europe and Latin America. In June he performed the album in its entirety at Prince Felipe Conference Center Auditorium in Oviedo, resulting in the audio-video disc package Geometría del Rayo (En Directo), released later that year.
In 2019 García undertook a months-long unplugged tour with a full band and a choir. They played 50 shows, all of them more than three hours long. The show amounted to a career retrospective with material chosen from his 40-year solo career and with El Último de la Fila. He recorded each performance -- including a five-night stand at Madrid's Congressional Palace. In July 2020, he released the multi-disc live package Acustico, Acustico, Acustico. Containing 30 songs on two audio discs, its two DVDs contained a tour documentary and a complete concert performance from Teatre Tivoli in Barcelona. In March 2021, García and flamenco composer/guitarist Vicente Amigo were featured guests on singer/songwriter Andrés Calamaro's charting single and video "Para No Olvidar." ~ Thom Jurek