History of Rumba Catalana

11. When the World Discovered Catalan Rumba

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The Planet Discovers Catalan Rumba

The ’92 Olympic Games of Barcelona and the first world wide tour of the Gipsy Kings brought Gypsy rumba to the forefront

1992 Olympic Games – Barcelona – 1 billion viewers

Los Manolos, from Barcelona sang live for the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, before a billion viewers.

Los Manolos
“Amigos para siempre”

After a retirement of almost 10 years, the great Peret gave up his charge of pastor of the evangelical church just before the Olympic Games, and went back on stage for this world event. His career was relaunched.

Peret – Olympic Games Barcelona 1992

The recovery of Catalan rumba culminated in the nineties, with the return of Peret to the stages and the brilliant irruption of Los Manolos, in the wake of the international success of the French Gypsy Kings. Olympic Barcelona, governed by the socialists, saw rumba as a local product that could be promoted as a flag for a city that wanted to recover the tourist fluxes of yesteryear.

This impulse, very spectacular but short-lived, encouraged some Gypsy groups such as Ai Ai Ai Ai or Sabor de Gracia, disciples of Gato Perez. However, the lack of stable projects and institutional backing once again caused the genre to falter. It would be saved by the so-called “mestizo scene“, and the rumba fusion genre.

30 years later, the Gipsy Kings are still the de facto reference of Gypsy rumba around the world

Gipsy Kings World Tour 1990 - History of Catalan Rumba

The Gipsy Kings had recruited their cousins, the Baliardo, for the perfect setup, the Reyes being better singers, and the Baliardo better guitarists, and were enjoying international success. Their style, recognizable among all, mixes flamenco and pop influences with rumba.

In 1987, they started touring around the world and became the first Gypsy band to go gold in the United States.

It was the consecration of the genre Gypsy rumba in the whole world. And a beautiful journey since their father, the famous flamenco singer, José Reyes put them on the way.

For further reading, a thorough article about the history of the Gipsy Kings, with founder Nicolas Reyes.

In 1991, they discovered that the leader of the group, Jalloul Chico Bouchikhi, had registered their trademark in his name. They dismissed him and recovered their name in court.

Chico went on to create Chico and the Gypsies, which also became a huge international act, touring non-stop. They reconciled in 2017, and played together much to the pleasure of fans.

2017 – Chico & the Gypsies and the Gipsy Kings
Los Reyes
Gipsy Kings family and friends – the sound isn’t great but the spirit is there – some good dancing.
The Gipsy Kings at the Gypsy pilgrimage of Les Saintes Marie de la Mer
Gipsy Kings – Chiribi
Live US Tour ’90
Gipsy Kings – Fandango
Live US Tour ’90
Gipsy Kings – a recording session


In the 2000s Catalan rumba, merging with all kinds of styles, gives birth to rumba fusion. The new Spanish scene gets up to speed, a welcome boost.