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Camarón de la Isla

image_159780_jpeg_800x600_q85.jpg Camarón

Full name

José Monge Cruz

Date of birth

05 Dec 1950

Place of birth

San Fernando


José Monge Cruz was born at number 29 of the callejuela del Carmen in  San Fernando on the 5th of December 1950 and died in Badalona on the 2th of July 1992 suffering from a illness affecting the lungs. At the age of eight he sang sporadically in the famous Venta de Vargas, where his brother Manuel used to take him to earn some money. There he met many flamenco artists and from a very young age made friends with the Alonso Núñez Rancapino from Chiclana. At twelve he was already a fervent admirer of Manolo Caracol. However around this time Camarón still wanted to be a bullfighter, his great vocation, along with his great friend from the village Manuel el del Lunar.

Means while, in 1963 he travelled to the April Festival along with Paco Betordo and Rancapino to sing in the Venta de Vargas. It was there that he met Antonio MairenaJuan Talega and Lola Flores. At only fourteen years of age he participated in Rovira Beletas´ film El amor brujo, starring Antonio Gades. One year later he began his professional career in Málaga where he met Antonio El Chaqueta in El Tamboril. José reached one of his greatest moments at the age of sixteen on wining first prize in the second group of the Mairena de Alcors´ IV 'Jondo´ Song Festival. This permitted him to participate in the Caracolá de Lebrija, in memory of Juaniquín, along with El Lebrijano,  Manolito de MaríaManolito de MaríaCurro Malena and El Turronero.

Camarón began to gain fame, as he had definitively abandoned his village to travel to Madrid in the company of Miguel de los Reyes, with whom he performed in the Sayro festival halls. In 1968 he enrolled in the main group of the Torres Bermejas 'tablao´, where he made contact with the guitarist Antonio Arenas, who recorded his first disc in 1969 and took him on tour through Venezuela. However, what stands out most in Camaróns biography of those years, is his encounter with Francisco Sánchez Gómez, Paco de Lucía, a young guitarist from Algeciras with whom he would form, sure enough, the best flamenco partnership half way through the twentieth century. The relationship between both of them grew and fruit of this the first LP entitled Al verte las flores lloran, released in 1969. The following year Camarón went on tour with Juanito Valderramas´ company, along with la Niña de la Puebla, La Niña de Antequera, Juan Habichuela and Dolores Abril. In 1971 he edited two new records with PacoCada vez que nos miramos and Son tus ojos dos estrellas. In 1972 he released Canastera and abandoned Torres Bermejas They were prosperous years for de la IslaCaminito de Totana (1973) is released and is awarded Jerezs´ Professorship of the Study of Flamenco award in 1974, just one year before the releasing of Arte y majestad, a record which begins with some 'bulerías´ dedicated to Curro Romero. He married Dolores Montoya la Chispa in 1976, a year in which he released Rosamaría and was accompanied for the first time sporadically by Tomatito. This is how the end of the relation with Paco de Lucía come to pass Striking up luxuriant solo career after the edition of Castillo de arena in 1977. Camarón was in full blown process of change. He had already demonstrated to the flamenco world his rigor in getting to grips with orthodox styles, although he wasn´t satisfied with this, so by the hand of Ricardo Pachón he recorded in 1979 La leyenda del tiempo, a impetus record in which José Fernández Torres, Tomatito, played guitar. Its cache rose to one million pesetas (6010,12 euros) in 1980, moment in which a mythical union with Enrique Morente began.

From here on he didn´t stop. He released Como el agua (1981) and participated in dozens of festivals In the following years he edited Calle RealViviré and Te lo dice Camarón. He became a consolidated artist in France at the end of the eighties and in 1988 he sang to Curro Romero in a bullfight organised by the Badajoz Tagore Association. After this came Soy gitano and Potro de rabia y miel (1992), which would be his last record, released at the dawn of his death. On the 19th of March he was taken to the clinic Quirón, where he was diagnosed with a acute pneumonia. The 2nd of May it was confirmed that he had irreversible lung cancer which, definitively, tore him away from life on the 2nd of July. More than 100.000 people assisted his funeral, unaware that nine years later the Regional Andalusian Government would award him the Golden Key of Song posthumously, an award that has generated polemic, but is awarded to him as his voice is still alive.


He has a great sound legacy, mostly live recordings, many of them were included in poor quality compilation cassettes, sold in petrol stations, with titles which included his name and the Flamenco style. E.g. "Camarón por bulerías”.

He published 17 records which include 164 songs and the name Camarón only appears on 27 of them in Spanish Performing Rights records.

1969 Al verte las flores lloran. With Paco de Lucía
1970 Cada vez que nos miramos. With Paco de Lucía
1971 Son tus ojos dos estrellas. With Paco de Lucía
1972 Canastera. With Paco de Lucía
1973 Caminito de Totana. With Paco de Lucía
1974 Soy caminante. With Paco de Lucía
1974 La Virgen María/A Belén pastores (Single)
1975 Arte y majestad. With Paco de Lucía
1976 Rosa María. With Paco de Lucía
1977 Castillo de arena. With Paco de Lucía
1979 La leyenda del tiempo. With Tomatito
1981 Como el agua. With Paco de Lucía
1983 Calle Real. With Tomatito
1984 Viviré. With You Tomatito
1986 Te lo dice Camarón. With Tomatito 
1989 Soy gitano. With Tomatito (album) Spain: Gold (50,000 copies)
1992 Potro de rabia y miel. With Paco de Lucía
2013 La Leyenda Del Tiempo - 35th Anniversary Edition 
Live Recordings
1987 Flamenco vivo. With Tomatito
1994 Camarón nuestro Spain: Gold (50,000 copies
1999 París 1987 Spain: Platinum (100,000 copies)
2005 Venta de Vargas
2010 San Juan Evangelista '92
Compilation albums
1990 Autorretrato
1992 Una leyenda flamenca
1994 Nochebuena gitana
1996 Antología Spain: Platinum (100,000 copies)
2000 Antología inédita Spain: Platinum (100,000 copies)
2004 Alma y corazón flamencos Spain: Gold (50,000 copies)
2005 Camarón the Film (CD and DVD
2008 Reencuentro (CD and DVD) Spain: Gold (40,000 copies)
2012 Con Camarón

Further information

Type of artist



Camarón de la Isla

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