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Manuel Torres and Zapico

The old man Antonio Ramírez Sol 'Zapico' told me that he had in his house a photograph of Manuel Torres and Chacón. I was thrilled, because Chacón and Manuel are two of my idols. Yet, the photograph was never found.

Antonio Ramírez Sol, a gentleman from La Feria district in Seville, better known as Zapico, was a big fan of Manuel Torres, who lived for many years on 4 Amapola Street, a narrow street near Los Carros square and Divina Pastora Street (formerly Alcalá Street), where the bailaor Lamparilla was born and died, and where the great Rafael Ramos Antúnez, Niño Gloria, died in 1954. The bailaor Pepe Ríos and his wife, a daughter or Manuel Torres, who died in 1933, also lived in this popular street of La Feria district.

Zapico was more than one hundred years old when he died, and when I first met him he still had the memory of an elephant. He was a regular at Los Jueves, the street market on Feria Street, and one morning I bought from him three old slate records of that brilliant cantaor from Jerez. That same morning, he told me that he had in his house a photograph of Manuel with Chacón and Javier Molina. I was thrilled, because Chacón and Manuel are two of my idols, two geniuses without whom cante would not be what it is today.

«Zapico knew everything about Manuel Torres and he told me ten or twelve good stories about him. One of them was about one night when Chacón and Manuel almost got into a fight»

We went to his house, which I believe was on Palomas Street, where Ramón el Ollero died and where Frijones lived, and it was a huge mess, with loads of old newspapers piled to the ceiling, slate records everywhere, three or four dogs and two cats, a bicycle from the 1800s and a big photograph of Manuel in the living room, the original where he’s sitting in front of the door of his house on Amapola Street. We looked for the photograph where Manuel was with Chacón, but we couldn’t find it. A few days later, I went to his house again to keep looking for it, but Zapico had passed away. The neighbors told me that he only had two sons, one living in Barcelona and the other in Buenos Aires, and only the former had come to take care of the good man and his belongings.

I was unable to contact that son of Zapico, and when two or three months later I visited the house again, other people were living there. So, that photograph of the three geniuses may still be somewhere, or it may have ended up in the trash, something that happens often because not everyone cares about these things. I remember that Zapico knew everything about Manuel Torres and he told me ten or twelve good stories about him. One of them was about one night when Chacón and Manuel almost got into a fight, at Alameda de Hércules, due to an argument they had regarding a popular cantaor, Niño de Marchena.

Chacón liked Marchena, whom he nicknamed La Vieja (The Old Lady) due to his vast knowledge. Yet, he also criticized him several times for “deforming cantes”. Torres was an admirer of this cantaor from Marchena and, even as he was a Gypsy and had a different style, would get very angry whenever anyone criticized him. And that’s what happened that night at La Alameda between Antonio and Manuel, when they argued about Marchena and even the stones of La Feria trembled.

Would that photograph of Chacón, Torres and Molina ever show up? Possibly, unless it ended up in the trash.

 

Translated by P. Young

 

 

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Crítico de flamenco, periodista y escritor. 40 años de investigación flamenca en El Correo de Andalucía. Autor de biografías de la Niña de los Peines, Carbonerillo, Manuel Escacena, Tomás Pavón, Fernando el de Triana, Manuel Gerena, Canario de Álora...

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