Pere Pubill Calaf, better known as Peret, has passed away today in Barcelona at the age of 79, due to complications from cancer that had been detected weeks ago. He was one of the most iconic figures of the Spanish music scene and represented Spain at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.
Peret was a composer, guitarist, singer and producer, but he was known as the King of Rumba for being the creator of a unique musical genre, the Catalan rumba, which was developed by Barcelona’s gypsy community in the 50s and whose rhythms are derived from the flamenco rumba with influences from mambo and rock n’ roll.
He was born in Mataró, Barcelona, on the 24th of March of 1935, and raised in a gypsy neighborhood. Before starting working with music, he worked as a carpenter, upholsterer or scrap merchant. His artistic career began at the age of 12 when he started singing alongside his cousin as a duet called Montenegro Brothers. In the following years he continued refining his guitar technique, learning and studying flamenco and in 1962 he recorded his first two hits entitled Ave María Lola and Recuerda.
He was the author of wildly popular songs like Borriquito (a fun song in which he criticized the invasion of English-speaking culture), Una Lágrima or Canta Y Sé Feliz with which he represented Spain at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest where he placed ninth.
Peret left his musical career in 1982 to become an Evangelist pastor, but he came back in 1991 with a new album and his performance at the closing ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 was unforgettable.
Throughout his musical career he has recorded more than twenty albums and the latest one, De Los Cobardes Nunca Se Ha Escrito Nada, which means Nothing Has Been Written About Cowards, was released in 2009.
He was suffering from lung cancer that got worst on Monday when he was sedated while awaiting the imminent outcome. The singer reported his fans about his illness in late July with these words:
"Although I believe that health issues are private, I would like to report that a few days ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I am following the appropriate treatment and doctors said that I will be back on stage, which is what I want most.
By experience I know that a disease like this needs to be faced with determination and optimism. Wasn’t it me who sang it is better to laugh than to mourn? So, that is what I am doing.
All this came up when I was working on the release of my upcoming album which will be sung entirely in the Catalan language. So, for now, you will not see me on stage, but there will be new songs soon.
I would like to send a big hug to all people who right now is in a similar situation, I love you. With our strength, we will move forward.
I appreciate the respect and love you have always shown me and I hope that you understand that these days I will be focused on my recovery. I will keep you informed of any news".
Our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences go to his family and friends at this sad time.
Below you can watch Peret’s performance at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest.