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Pedro Pubill Calaf , better known as Peret (Mataró, Barcelona, March 24, 1935-Barcelona, August 27, 2014), was a singer , Spanish guitarist and composer of gypsy origin. He popularized music and gypsy rhythm throughout Spain and especially in Catalonia, where he adopted as part of his culture with the so-called Catalan rumba.
His father earned his living as a street vendor of fabrics and Peret as a child accompanied him on his commercial trips through Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, so he went to school a little. It seems that he learned to read in a self-taught way by looking at the advertising posters.
Amateur since childhood on guitar and gypsy cante, at age twelve he formed a duet with a cousin of his. They were called The Montenegro Brothers. They debuted at the Tivoli theater in Barcelona, at a children’s festival.
In 1947, by chance, he recorded an album that went unnoticed by the market, so he survived as a street vendor. He even traveled to Argentina, but not to sing, but to negotiate with sheets. Occasionally he acted in premises on the Catalan coast. Little by little, his name was known in Barcelona. Thus, he recorded a couple of albums that sounded a lot on the stations in the area. Soon he married Fuensanta, Santa, a gypsy of the family to which years later he would dedicate one of his most popular songs: “Mi Santa”.
In the mid-60s he made the leap to Madrid, when he was hired by El Duende, a flamenco tablao belonging to Pastora Imperio and Gitanillo de Triana, and that’s where his climbing began. Some of his interpretations, such as “El muerto vivo” by the Colombian Guillermo González Arenas, began to be very successful among people of diverse social extraction. And at this moment a very significant phenomenon occurred that Manuel Román described in his book Memoria de la copla:
In fashionable nightclubs, where Anglo-Saxon and Spanish ensembles of the time are programmed, such as Los Bravos and others of the pop genre, there is suddenly a sudden change, after midnight, that the record player takes advantage of for Let Peret’s rumbas sound.
Peret in 2007.
In 1967 he recorded “Una lágrima”, a rumba version of a waltz by maestro Monreal, which had a brilliant success, becoming one of the songs of the summer of 1968. At this time the music of Peret -powerful and vertiginous, with influences of the mambo and the rock-roll – it constantly sounded on radio stations, jukeboxes, taverns, casinos, discos, parties, parties …
In the following years, all the orchestras incorporate into their repertoire songs such as “El gitano Antón”, “Don Toribio Carambola”, “Saboreando”, “I kill him!”, “If so-and-so was a mangano”, “Chaví” , “Sing and be happy” (with which he participated in the Festival of the Song of Eurovision 1974), “What things have love”, “To me women neither fu nor fa”, “Punishing”, “Tracatrá”, etc. Many of his great successes are derived from a style of Cuban son called guaracha, which greatly influenced the Catalan rumba. An example of this is the guaracha «I kill it!», Of the Cuban Ñico Saquito. Peret tells that when he was young he went to the Rialto party hall, to dance the mambos of Pérez Prado, dressed as a rocker: for him, the mixture of Cuban and rock music is fundamental in the creation of the Catalan rumba.
The international bombing came with “Borriquito” in 1971, with lyrics and music by the singer himself, which coincided with the boom in tourism in Spain, which contributed to the popularization of the song throughout the world and especially in The Netherlands (7 weeks as # 1) and Germany (two weeks # 1). This song also had a lot of acceptance in Mexico and Latin America, which caused other similar songs to reach the Latin American market.
In 1975, he performed in a musical festival that took place in the El Aaiún, capital of the Sahara, in honor of the Spanish troops, during the green march, along with Rosa Morena, Karina, Lolita Sevilla, Arena Caliente and the comedian Chicho Gordillo. It was held for two days in the Third Sahara Legion of the Legion Don Juan of Austria, where he acted before more than 12,000 people, including chiefs, officers and soldiers.
In 1982, unexpectedly, Pedro Pubill Calaf radically abandoned his artistic activity and entered the Barcelona section of the Evangelical Church of Philadelphia. For nine years he exercised under the name of “Brother Peter” religious work with exclusive dedication. Later, without leaving his religious beliefs, he ceased pastoral activity and set up a record company. Since then, it reappears in the scenarios sporadically.
In 1991, he composed the song representative of Spain in the OTI Festival of Song, held in Acapulco (Mexico). The song was called “Bésame” and was performed by his nephew Joel, which would be included in the album. The Festival consisted of the semifinal and final, and Peret’s song managed to pass to the final of the contest.
In 1992, he participated in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, together with Los Manolos, Los Amaya and other exponents of the Catalan rumba. In it, playing the song “Gitana hechicera”, dedicated to the city of Barcelona on the occasion of the Olympic Games and which was one of the successes of that summer.
In 1998, he was awarded the Cross of Sant Jordi. In 2000, he recorded a new album Peret: Rey de la rumba, along with soloists and pop groups such as Jarabedepalo, El Gran Silencio, Carlos Jean, Fermín Muguruza and David Byrne (from Talking Heads).
In 2006, he participates in the disc homage to Joan Manuel Serrat, entitled Per al meu amic Serrat (Discmedi, 2006), in which he interprets the theme to rumba rhythm «Me’n vaig a peu».
In 2007, he presents a new album with unpublished songs, titled Que Llevante el dedo, and he prepares the book La Biblia de la Rumba in the next edition. Also in 2007, Joan Manuel Serrat and Joaquín Sabina pay homage to Peret by incorporating the song “El muerto vivo” into the repertoire of their joint tour Dos pájaros de una tiro. In the first concert of Barcelona at the Palau Sant Jordi, Peret accompanies the two singer-songwriters on stage.
Peret participates in the collective disc of La Marató de TV3 in its 2007 edition with a Catalan version of the song “Live is life” (“Vine amb mi”) by the Austrian Opus group.
On May 3, 2011, the city of Mataró awarded him the title of favorite son of the city in recognition of his professional career and as the creator of the Catalan rumba. It is the first occasion in which the city council of this Mediterranean town grants this recognition.
In 2013 he participated in the Concert for Freedom with «L’emigrant» and «Catalunya tea molt poder».
On July 30, 2014, Peret announced to the media that he had cancer, leaving the scene to undergo treatment and return as soon as possible in good health.
On August 27, 2014, he died at the Quirón clinic in Barcelona due to lung cancer at the age of 79, not without some controversy when a news agency announced the death that, in due course, the family had died. expressly denied.
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