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Imanol Larzabal Goñi (San Sebastián, November 11, 1947 – Orihuela, June 25, 2004), known as Imanol , was a singer and composer in Basque and Castilian, a great defender of Basque culture and language. Exiled during the Franco dictatorship, he had to leave the Basque Country again in the last years of his life, before the harassment of ETA.

Imanol’s Biography

Born in San Sebastián on November 11, 1947, he did studies of delineation, although he never got to practice the profession. He began to sing in Basque in 1964 and his first album appeared under a pseudonym, titled in the same way, Mikel Etxegaray. Three years later he joined ETA, being imprisoned on August 29, 1968 for six months for terrorism, organization and illegal propaganda. He went into exile in France and lived in Bayonne, Bordeaux and Paris; that’s where he contacted future friends and collaborators such as Paco Ibáñez, the Breton group Gwendal or Elisa Serna.

After the amnesty of 1977, he returned to Spain and continued his musical career in the Basque Country, engaging in various initiatives in defense of Basque culture and language such as the Korrika, a biennial protest march in favor of Euskera. Imanol was moving away from the ETA environment, but his political ideas continued to be in favor of the right to self-determination and against violence, participating in acts of Basta Ya! later.

On June 10, 1985, he was arrested together with Josu Landa and his technical team after being involved in the escape of ETA prisoners Joseba Sarrionandia and Iñaki Pikabea from the Martutene prison in Guipúzcoa. After a concert by Imanol in this prison, the prisoners escaped hidden in two speakers equipped for the escape that were loaded into the van of the group. However, Imanol was released after the facts were clarified.

In 1986 he participated in a concert in homage to the ex-activist of ETA Yoyes, murdered by his former colleagues in the town of Ordizia. The participation in this tribute was worth to him to be boycotted by its public and from then on it was systematically vetoed of all those recitals organized by Herri Batasuna and the sales of its discs were descending in the measure in which the attacks were increased against him. In the following years, he received death threats in the form of graffiti and attacks on his car, hitting the wheels. On September 21, 1989, he performed another concert with the same purpose. After this last the threats intensified, and a group of friends, along with some councilors of Euskadiko Ezkerra de Ordizia, proposed to organize an act of support to the singer and thought that the best thing was another concert.

On November 2, 1989, accompanied by Anjel Lertxundi, Imanol announced the act “All against fear”, against the threats of ETA, to be held on November 5 at the Polideportivo de Anoeta with the participation of Rosa León, Javier Krahe, Ricardo Solfa, Joaquín Sabina, Luis Eduardo Aute, José Antonio Labordeta, Paco Ibáñez, Luis Pastor and Urko The following day, Elisa Serna, Amaya Uranga, Pi de la Serra, Gorka Knörr and Xavier joined. Ribalta There were also several bertsolaris such as Andoni Egaña, Joxé Lizaso, Xabier Euzkitze, Azpillaga and Basabe, and the singers Iñaki Eizmendi, Pablo Guerrero and Enrique Morente. Telegrams from the CCOO union and from Juan María Bandrés, Luis Cobos, Teddy Bautista, Julio Caro Baroja, Jorge Oteiza and Rafael Alberti were read and 180 former ETA prisoners signed a statement in support of Imanol in which they rejected “obligatory thinking” Also, a support manifesto was opened headed by Joan Manuel Serrat, Víctor Manuel, Ana Belén, Miguel Ríos, Lluís Llach and Georges Moustaki, who later joined, among others, Joxe Mari eta Mikel, Antton Valverde, Lourdes Iriondo, Xabier Lete, Fernando Savater, Gabriel Celaya, Agustín Ibarrola, Raúl Guerra Garrido or Vicente Molina Foix Although some of the signatories later withdrew their support, on the day of the concert Imanol was given 150 sheets of signatures of support.

A month later, a tribute to José Miguel de Barandiaran was celebrated in Ataun, to mark the 100th anniversary, to which nine artists were invited, among them Imanol; two of them refused to share the stage with him and before the firmness of the organizing committee, they resigned to act, but not before putting pressure on others. Finally the event was held with the sole participation of Bitoriano Gandiaga, Antton Valverde and Imanol, having renounced the others either in solidarity with the dissidents, or for not getting involved in extra-musical matters.

In October 2000, he announced that he was leaving the Basque Country, fed up with ETA’s threats. At that time he said that in Euskadi there was an “unbreathable atmosphere” and explained that he had been suffering from all kinds of pressure since in 1986 he participated in the homage concert to Yoyes. Since then he only returned sporadically. In 2004 he collaborated on the collective record in memory of the late Julen Lekuona, that year, on his album Ausencia, in which he went back into the song in Spanish, and betrayed his intentions, as well as being a tribute to Professor Mikel Azurmendi, personal friend who also decided to leave Euskadi.

On June 25, 2004, she died in Orihuela due to a stroke, after spending several days in a coma, her last work, an album of lullabies in different languages, was inconclusive.

More Facts about Imanol

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