Julio Iglesias: A “chameleon” of music who gave voice to the love song


If love had a face, it could be that of Julio Iglesias. A French documentary explores his career

June 15, 1977: Spain is holding its first elections since 1936 and Julio Iglesias has been invited on TV to keep voters calm and encourage cohesion. And who could do it better than the man who speaks to young and old alike? “You don’t think I’m going to make a political speech now, do you?” he says, putting on his glasses. “Today was a day of unity. Everyone voted for their ideals. Let’s hope that through these ideals all Spaniards will emerge victorious.”

He then sings a song written by Ramón Arcusa from “Dúo Dinámico”. The song wasn’t originally for him, but then Arcusa believed he was the only one who could sing it. And, thus, Julio Iglesias found himself singing lyrics that capture the essence of his enigmatic charm…

The French director, Anne-Solen Douguet, worked through the archives that have been collected about the singer in Spain, France, Italy, the United States and every other country where he was successful. The result is the Arte.tv documentary, “Julio Iglesias, Life and Work”.

It is a portrait of Spain’s most successful singer. The beginning of his career, in 1968 in Spain, was not, however, “laid out” with rose petals.

His father, Julio Iglesias Puga, a gynecologist by profession, stepped in to secure him a place at the Benidorm Festival, where the shy 25-year-old Julio had to come out of his shell and sing the only song he ever wrote, “La vida sigue igual” (Life goes on). It was a song he wrote during his two-year recovery from an accident that ended his dream of becoming a professional footballer for Real Madrid. At the time, Iglesias planned to study law and pursue a diplomatic career. Although this never happened, he became the best PR man in Spain.

Many in France believe that Julio Iglesias was half French or that he lived in France because he was always heard singing in French. In fact, he sang his songs in 14 languages ​​in order to become “international” in a way that most Spanish artists of the time could only dream of.

In the documentary, Douguet connects the singer’s life with the history of Spain, as his success cannot be understood without considering the Franco regime. The internationalization of his career was possible because he represented an aspect of Spain that the authorities wanted to sell to the outside world: young, educated and talented. “He took advantage of the freedoms that the regime offered him, which was not the case with other artists. However, I know from various sources that Julio Iglesias intervened on behalf of at least one or two artists who were reacting to the regime”, says the director.

In 1977, shortly after Chile’s National Stadium was used as a prison and torture chamber by the Pinochet regime, Julio Iglesias packed it with his fans. “I sing for the world,” he explained in an interview. “I have sung to everyone. I have sung in Chile in difficult times and I do not regret it. Why should I limit myself?’

For women, he himself has stated: “I love women. I need them around me. It is a great stimulus. I enjoy a woman’s affection and tenderness more than anything else.”

After the secular lady Isabel Preysler from Madrid left him, Julio publicly admitted that he “failed” to start a family with her. Preysler was in love with him, but the singer was a Don Juan and an extremely jealous partner.

Meanwhile, his older Preysler children grew up in his shadow, accustomed to receiving more affection from their father’s manager, Alfredo Fraile, than from himself. Musically, Enrique Iglesias forged his own path, with the help of his father’s former press manager, Fernán Martínez. And he succeeded. Julio Iglesias Junior wanted to do the same, but his music career failed to take off in the same way.

By the 2000s, Julio Iglesias had managed to adapt to new audiences. He continued to fill smaller and smaller venues, but he was determined to remain “number one” and was certainly not willing to share the limelight with Enrique, with whom he never shared the stage.

The portrait sketched by the documentary, which aired on French television and is available until June, does not include interviews with the singer, now 80, or members of his inner circle.

You May Also Like

Recommended for you