Los Chichos

The kings of the flamenco rumba.

Los Chichos represent gypsyism (Romanipen), and its values such as freedom, honor, the experiences of the marginal life of the ghettos embodied in their music and lyrics.

Forty-eight years and 22 million records sold is the tremendous balance of this trio of gypsies. Created in the 70s more as entertainment, no one could think that Vallecanos would become a social and musical phenomenon. Julio, Jero (or Jeros) and Emilio formed, in 1972, a group with which they walked through the tablaos of Madrid and the squares of the poorest neighborhoods, where they passed their hats while playing their guitars to the sound of the most party rhythms.


More than 22 million records sold

They started when they were just a few teenagers from the El Pozo del Tío Raimundo neighborhood, in Entrevías, next to Vallecas, where the term ‘rumba vallecana’ comes from. Precisely this neighborhood in which they grew up, a suburban area full of shacks, where the payos did not enter, was the source of inspiration for many of their lyrics. The emigrants who arrived in the cities undergoing industrialization in the 1950s and 1960s came from rural areas (Martin Sevillano, 2020) whose secular poverty had been aggravated by the civil war and its consequences. Although they were largely illiterate (Viñao, 2009 in Martin Sevillano 2020), they had a rich oral tradition transmitted through songs, stories, legends, rituals, and celebrations that gave meaning to their position in time and space. , and with it their social identity. With the payo emigrants, the gypsies arrive in the suburbs of Madrid, coming from Castile, Andalusia and other parts of Spain where the mechanization of the countryside and the absolute bankruptcy of horse trading (Giménez, 1994) had thrown them to the periphery of the large Spanish cities where they stayed and remain to a great extent. These gypsy families carried flamenco and art in their baskets, and from that clash between ancestral flamenco and the hardships of the shack and the suburb, the urban rumba emerged.

Los Chichos grew up in the Pozo del Tío Raimundo neighborhood. At the beginning of their artistic life, they barely got enough from music to even be able to live, but they had the help of Paco de Lucía’s father and later his manager, Eduardo Guervós. Both believed from the first moment in the promising future of the trio. They would soon become the soundtrack of the transition: some kids who, with simple lyrics, managed to bring the feeling of the street to their songs and went from sales at gas stations to the top of the charts. The nickname of Los Chichos came to them from the two brothers, Julio and Emilio, whose mother called them that because of the bumps that came out after their multiple falls as children.

The first single from Los Chichos came out in May 1973 entitled Quiero ser libre, the first copies running out in a few weeks. With their second and third single Ni más ni menos and La historia de Juan Castillo, they became better known by a wide sector of payos and gypsies who felt identified by the realism and plot of their lyrics. The group’s first three albums, Neither more nor less (1974), This does have fun (1975) and I don’t know why (1976), are compositions by Jero, which would mark an era. The genius of the lyrics composed by Jero, and their musical quality turned these three gypsies into a mass phenomenon. Spain danced to the rhythm of the Chichos. His albums and his successes follow one another, and here we only reflect those of the first period; Neither more nor less (1974) This really has fun (1975), I don’t know why (1976) They are illusions (1977), Today the same as yesterday (1978), Love and roulette (1979), Love of buying and selling (1980), You will dance with joy (1981). For you to dance (1981), Neither you, nor I (1982), Leave me alone (1983), Go ahead (1984), Me, El Vaquilla (1985) Because we love each other (1987), Black eyes (1988), This it is what it is (1989).

His career, the number of records, sales and concerts give us spectacular figures. But perhaps the most impressive thing is the cultural and social impact of the Chichos throughout Spain, but also in other European countries. Its catchy rhythms and the content of its lyrics put the gypsy culture in the foreground and it is from the eighties when there is a shift in the content advancing to a social rumba, which with its lyrics denounce poverty, drugs, marginality and the needs of the suburb that they know so well. And that social denunciation soon has its political consequences. The diffusion and social impact of his music was such that those lyrics of social denunciation raised blisters in the spheres of power to which record companies, producers and radio stations were no strangers. It is very significant that they were banned from the top 40. Despite the boycott, its sales and success did not suffer. As Ana Belén Martin Sevillano points out, that ironies of life have to come from the University of Montreal to write about the Chichos, they express the aesthetics of disenchantment that dominates the suburban rumba and represents the feelings of the inhabitants of the suburbs and us. we add the life and the gypsy world, the traditions, the desires, the love, the joy and the passion together with the miseries and the drama of what life means in the marginal neighborhoods of the outskirts of Madrid.

Los Chichos’ work has transcended time and space. For its quality, its freshness and its magnetism. It is very current music to the point that many current artists imitate it so at best or copy them at worst. This is the case of C. Tangana who, without mentioning the authorship, edited a song with the refrain “they are illusions”. Without a doubt, more would have to be known about the origin of the rhythms, the melodies and the lyrics of some current artists, since without the samplers that come from these gypsy songs many songs of today would not be known. Despite the imitations, the originality and musical strength of Los Chichos bears the gypsy seal of authenticity, of the eternal… and their magic will remain forever in the hearts and minds of those of us who live their music.


All the hits of Los Chichos


Listen to some of their hits