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The surprising José Luis Postigo

This is how José Luis Postigo Guerra, one of the most recorded flamenco guitarists with 63 albums as acompanist, an inspired dancer (yes, you read that right), guitar collector and authority expresses himself.

“I was born in Nervión, Seville in 1950, my siblings were born in Marchena, my mother is from Málaga, Tolox, and my father is from Marchena.”

This is how José Luis Postigo Guerra, one of the most recorded flamenco guitarists with 63 albums as acompanist, an inspired dancer (yes, you read that right), guitar collector and authority expresses himself.

His path to flamenco is more complex than usual, a life full of anecdotes and wisdom. At the age of 7, he already enjoyed dancing and watching others dance. For 10 years, he studied with masters such as Enrique el Cojo, learning classical Spanish, regional, and bolero styles. Youth galas and various performances kept him busy, while he simultaneously developed a passion for the guitar. Gradually, he shifted from dancing to the six strings, leading to a brilliant career that includes the “Manolo de Huelva” Prize for accompaniment of singing and dancing in Córdoba in 1983, and the Prize from the Flamencology Chair of Jerez that same year.

From that point on, it was a rapid ascent to the heights of his profession. His name appeared as guitarist on the posters of almost all the festivals of that era, and he participated in an endless list of performances with the great stars of flamenco singing.

But one surprising trait defines him more than any other: a fascination, if not an obsession, with guitars. With extensive knowledge, he is a great accompanist and a guitar guru who has run a guitar shop for 45 years. He has been living his dream of being a guitar collector, the most important in the country, in his Casa de la Guitarra since 2012 in the traditional Santa Cruz neighborhood of Seville.


We had the following conversation with José Luis Postigo…



José Luis, congratulations on your magnificent and multifaceted career. We know you started as a dancer and continued in that specialty for 10 years. Then, due to a contractual circumstance, you took on the role of guitarist. But you were already very skilled with the guitar. Had you planned on making that change?

I didn’t have it planned, but I realized that what I liked most was the guitar. Pulpón [artistic agent] sent me to Torremolinos with a flamenco group as a dancer in the sixties. When we arrived, the director said he didn’t want a dancer, he wanted another guitarist. At that time, I’d been taking guitar lessons for two years, and I told him, “I’m also a guitarist, but my playing is for dance,” and I ended up staying for several months accompanying dance.

I returned to Seville and Pulpón got me in as a guitarist in Los Gallos. There were great stars there… La Paquera, Terremoto, Trini España, Matilde Coral, Farruco… many prominent artists.

I left Los Gallos in 1979 and started playing at festivals with Paco Taranto and Luis de Córdoba. At the end of the performances, I always danced a bit, just like Juan Habichuela, who also started out as a dancer.


I almost fell off my chair when I saw a bit of your bulerías dance infused with the sublime Triana style of Farruco and Rafael el Negro. Many guitarists have their cute little steps, but you take it further. What do you think of current dance trends in flamenco?

Nowadays, there’s excellent footwork in flamenco dance, although sometimes it seems like Kung-fu matches. But dance has progressed tremendously. I’m glad to hear my dance surprised you so much! As for current dance trends, I think it has evolved in many interesting ways. There’s a blend of tradition and new influences that have enriched flamenco. While some purists may have mixed opinions, personally, I believe diversity and innovation are positive for keeping this vibrant and emotional art form alive.


Patron and founder of the Cristina Heeren Foundation, how did that come about?

I went to Biarritz with José de la Tomasa to record an album that Cristina was producing for him. During this time, I mentioned to José my project of opening a large school. Cristina loved the idea and arranged for me to meet at a notary to appoint me as the founding patron of the foundation she had created.



Chocolate and José Luis Postigo. Photo: archivo Postigo



You were accompanying El Cabrero for more than five years. In an interview, you mentioned that in 1984 you did 83 festivals with him and other stars, and that in the 1980s you earned 16 million pesetas. Is that true?

In the 1980s, I played for Luis de Córdoba, El Cabrero, José Mercé, José de la Tomasa, Menese, Naranjito de Triana… that’s when I earned that much and more.


Do you think the way of accompanying flamenco singing has changed?

Yes, it has changed, except for certain forms. The singer might be performing a soleá, and it’s difficult to tell whether it’s from Alcalá, Utrera, or Triana. The chords sound like New York Manhattan, with harmonies of jazz or blues—it’s a different language. The traditional flamenco sound is being lost. Those who are fans of singing accompany the singing, and those who prefer to play alone follow a soloist’s path.


Which guitarists and singers have inspired you? What singer have you enjoyed accompanying the most?

I’ve admired Paco de Lucía, Manolo Sanlúcar, Serranito, and many other great guitarists. I practically didn’t study the guitar; I became passionate about singing and studied the singers. Pulpón would say, “You’re going to go with Chocolate,” so I’d buy 3 or 4 tapes and study his way of singing. But the singer who influenced me the most was Antonio Mairena, and also Miguel Vargas. I was inspired by all the singers who sang well. I also felt very comfortable with José Mercé, Luis de Córdoba and El Cabrero, among others.


Many guitarists fell by the wayside after Paco de Lucía, or they simply threw in the towel. Your playing can be described as pre-Paco, even though you were born after him. You managed to defend your style of playing: in fact, some singers chose you precisely for your traditional approach. Weren’t you attracted to the new style?

I’ve always admired the evolution of the guitar, but I was deeply influenced by my passion for singing and have cultivated the orthodox style of playing. Paco de Lucía’s era drove all of us guitarists crazy. I didn’t have the discipline to spend a lot of time with the guitar. I played for all the prominent figures of the time, except Camarón. I was the go-to person, I adapted to anyone. I received the two most important awards in flamenco: the National Prize of Córdoba and the Prize from the Flamencology Chair of Jerez, as well as countless gold insignias, and four cultural weeks dedicated to me. I feel very privileged because I have many friends, and the flamenco community remembers me with affection and respect. I have a suitcase with a thousand festival contracts. I’ve been lucky in my life as a guitarist, I’ve traveled all over the world. Twelve years ago, I had surgery on my right hand, on the tendons, so I retired. I’ve worked a lot, and I’m tired.


Now you run your Casa de la Guitarra.

Yes, the Casa de la Guitarra was awarded by TripAdvisor as one of the ten most noteworthy museums in Spain. Currently, it has a very important collection of about 150 historical guitars dating back to 1794. There is an exhibition that can be visited for free.


From here, I send warm greetings to all the flamenco enthusiasts.



José Luis Postigo and El Cabrero.


Jose Luis Postigo and Serranito.


Joselero de Morón, Miguel Vargas, Carlos Camachoand José Luis Postigo, at the Bar Alemán. Photo: archivo Postigo


Jerezana de adopción. Cantaora, guitarrista, bailaora y escritora. Flamenca por los cuatro costados. Sus artículos han sido publicados en numerosas revistas especializadas y es conferenciante bilingüe en Europa, Estados Unidos y Canadá.