Manitas de Plata (born Ricardo Baliardo; 7 August 1921 – 5 November 2014) was a French flamenco guitarist. Despite achieving worldwide fame, he was known for disrespecting certain rhythmic rules (compás) that are traditional in flamenco.
Ricardo Baliardo was born in a gypsy caravan in Sète in southern France. He became famous by playing each year at the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer gypsy pilgrimage in Camargue, where he was recorded live by Deben Bhattacharya.
Manitas de Plata (“Little Hands of Silver”) only agreed to play in public ten years after the death of Django Reinhardt, unanimously considered the king of gypsy guitarists. One of his recordings earned him a letter from Jean Cocteau acclaiming him as a creator.
Upon hearing him play at Arles in 1964, Pablo Picasso is said to have exclaimed “that man is of greater worth than I am!” and proceeded to draw on the guitar.
Manitas de Plata garnered fame in the United States only after a photography exhibition in New York, organized by his friend Lucien Clergue. He had recorded his first official album in the chapel of Arles in France, in 1963, for the Phillips label. It was later re-released, in 1967, by the Connoisseur Society label and sold through the Book of the Month Club. This was a popular LP that brought him to the attention of an American audience. An American manager obtained a booking for him to play a concert in Carnegie Hall in New York on November 24, 1965.
He toured the world from 1967, and recorded discs. He played with the dancer Nina Corti. In 1968 he played at the Royal Variety Performance in London.
Manitas de Plata was the father of Jacques, Maurice, and Tonino Baliardo and uncle to Paul, François (Canut), Patchaï, Nicolas and André Reyes (the sons of his cousin, flamenco artist José Reyes (1928-1979) ), all members of the rumba flamenca band Gipsy Kings. Australian multi-instrumentalist Chris Freeman, his student in 1971, acknowledged de Plata’s influence and teachings.
Manitas de Plata died in a retirement home in Montpellier on 6 November 2014. The cause of death was not disclosed, but de Plata had been in poor health since suffering a severe heart attack in April 2013.
Many members of his own family were also well known flamenco musicians, including his younger brother Hippolyte Baliardo (1928-2009), and his eldest son Manero Baliardo (1940-2012). Another son, Bambo Baliardo, is still an active musician and performer as of 2015. (by wikipedia)
Manitas de Plata inspired Pablo Picasso to exclaim: “That man is of greater worth than I am!”.
On the cover you can see the guitar, which was autographed by the Painter Pablo Picasso:
01. Campanitas 2.15
02, Gitano De Quatro Costados 7.03
03. Alegria Del Castillo 2.05
04. Guitarras Morescas 7.19
05. Guitarras Y Tumba 5.00
06. Improvisation 7.00
07. Dos Hermanos 4.00
08. Malaguenita 2.50
Music composed by Ricardo “Manitas de Plata” Balliardo