FELICIANO: A Name That is Synonymous with MUSIC.
It is synonymous with an international presence that has influenced popular music for more than
two generations. It is synonymous with a presence that has bridged musical styles in a way that
has never been equaled. Jose Feliciano is recognized as the first Latin Artist to cross over into the
English music market, opening the doors for other artists who now play an important role in the
American music industry.
As importantly, Feliciano has been acclaimed by critics around the world as “The greatest living
guitarist”. Referred to as “The Picasso of his Realm,” Jose Feliciano’s accomplishments are highly
celebrated. He’s been awarded over forty-five Gold and Platinum records; he has won nineteen
Grammy nominations, earning nine Grammy Awards, including the “LARAS Award for Lifetime
Jose Feliciano’s musical career has been immortalized with a Star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
New York City has honored him by re-naming Public School 155 in East Harlem, “The Jose
Feliciano Performing Arts School.” The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, an ancient and
prestigious Papal Order of the Catholic Church has knighted Jose at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and
he’s received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield,
Connecticut, for his musical, as well as humanitarian, contributions to the world.
Guitar Player Magazine has awarded him “Best Pop Guitarist,” placing him in their “Gallery of the
Greats,” and he’s been voted both “Best Jazz and Best Rock Guitarist” in the Playboy Magazine
reader’s poll, as well. In 1996, Jose was selected to receive Billboard Magazine’s “Lifetime
Being constantly in demand, Jose has performed for and with some of the most important people
on Earth. He’s enjoyed playing with many of the top symphonic orchestras including the London
Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He’s appeared
on major television shows worldwide; he has done a number of his own specials and his music
has been featured on television, in films and on the stage.
Jose was born blind, to humble beginnings, on September 10, 1945, in Lares, Puerto Rico. One of
eleven boys, his love affair with music began at the age of three when he first accompanied his
uncle on a tin cracker can. When he was five, his family immigrated to New York City. Young
Jose learned to play the concertina at age six, using a handful of records as his teacher. At eight,
he entertained his classmates at PS 57, and at nine, performed at The Puerto Rican Theater in the
Bronx. Venturing beyond the accordion, he taught himself to play the guitar with undaunted
determination and again, with nothing but records as his teacher, practicing for as many as 14
hours a day. Exposed to the Rock’n’Roll of the 50’s, Jose was then inspired to sing.
At 17, Jose quit school. His father was not working at the time and he needed to help his family.
He starting playing in coffee houses in Greenwich Village and for his salary -- as was customary
during that time in small clubs -- they’d “pass the hat.” He played in coffee houses, clubs and
cafes from Boston to Cleveland to Detroit, Chicago and Denver. A music critic from the New
York Times, reviewing his performance at Gerde’s Folk City, referred to him as a “10-fingered
wizard who romps, runs, rolls, picks and reverberates his six strings in an incomparable fashion.” He
added, “If you want to witness the birth of a star, catch Mr. Feliciano before he leaves tomorrow night.”
Around this time, Jack Sommer, an A&R executive from RCA, went to the Village to audition a
trio who was there, saw Jose perform and signed him to RCA, instead. This was, indeed, the Birth
of a Star.
Jose’s first major break in the industry, however, happened in the Spanish market when, in 1966,
after a spectacular performance at the Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina, the RCA executives in
Buenos Aires encouraged Jose to stay and record an album of Spanish music. “They really didn’t
know what to do with me in the studio,” Jose recalls. “So I suggested that we record a number of old
boleros--songs I’d heard from the time I was a kid.” Feliciano’s interpretation of the classic bolero of
the time was nothing short of amazing. The first single, “Poquita Fe,” was a ‘smash’ hit and “Usted”
was even bigger.
Jose had taken long-time standards, torch songs from another era, and made them brand new. He
re-worked and re-fashioned them with his signature acoustic guitar style and his vocal inflections
of jazz and the American influences that he’d acquired during his adolescence. The formula
clicked and Jose quickly became a “teen idol,” unable to pass through airports or leave his hotel
room without a riot. Two more albums followed in similar fashion and the name “Jose Feliciano”
was known all throughout South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Back in the States, RCA execs in Los Angeles assigned him to staff producer, Rick Jarrard. Rick
closely studied Jose’s intriguing style and recommended that he record a Doors’ song that he’d
heard him perform in concert -- a tune called, “Light My Fire”...
By the time he was 23, Jose Feliciano had earned five Grammy nominations and won two
Grammy Awards for his album “Feliciano!” He had performed over much of the world, and had
recorded songs in four languages. But Jose was not satisfied. He had a desire to expand his career
to include some acting and during the next few years, had made a number of dramatic TV
appearances, including an episode of “Kung Fu”, “Macmillan and Wife” and “Chico and the Man”.
“It was a lot of fun,” recalls Jose, “But I’m a musician...” A musician, indeed.
Three songs that have been milestones for Feliciano are: 1) “Light My Fire,” which topped the
charts globally in 1968 and according to the song’s publisher, is now a “standard” because of
Jose’s interpretation. 2) “Che Sara,” the 1971 San Remo Music Festival entry that became a megasuccess
for Jose throughout Europe, Asia and South America and of course, 3) “Feliz Navidad,”
the Christmas song that has now become a tradition worldwide during the holiday season every
year. In fact, it has become a top iTunes download while ASCAP has placed it among the 25
Greatest Holiday Songs of the Century!
Additionally, the world enjoys many other Feliciano songs, including “Rain,” “Chico and the Man,”
“California Dreamin’,” “Destiny,” “Affirmation,” ‘The Sound of Vienna,” “Ay Cariño,” “Ponte A
Cantar,” “Cuando El Amor Se Acaba,” “Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?” and countless others, many
of which are of his own writing. When Jose made a cameo appearance in the Academy Award
Winning motion picture “Fargo” in 1995, he performed one such important self-penned
composition, “Let’s Find Each Other Tonight,” demonstrating his strength as a songwriter, as well
as a performer. As Steve Buscemi’s character in the film, Carl Showalter, declared, “You know, Jose
Feliciano. You got no complaints.”
One of Jose’s most memorable moments was on December 1, 1987 when he joined other
entertainment legends in having his star permanently implanted on the world-renowned
“Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Similarly, he’s also been given a star on the Walk of Fame in his native
Puerto Rico alongside Jose Ferrer and Raul Julia and had his hands cast for the world famous
Wall of Fame in Madame Tussaud’s in London, England.
From a historical point of view, it should be noted that Jose was the first artist to ever stylize the
National Anthem and perform it publicly. He did so during the 5th game of the World Series
between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals on October 7, 1968 in historic Tiger Stadium. It
was the first time the anthem became a charted Top-40 recording and once again, Jose opened the
door for new generations of stylization. Today, the National Anthem is rarely sung in its strictly
traditional form, ever since Jose’s extraordinary performance in Detroit. In The Baseball Hall of
Fame in Cooperstown, New York, you can actually listen to this historic moment when Jose first
sang the National Anthem and caught the world’s attention by surprise!
Feliciano oftentimes will venture into other artistic genres and has, in fact, become famous for
doing so. In 1989, for instance, legendary author, Ray Bradbury, invited him to write the music
for his play, “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” Jose and his wife, Susan, took on the challenge of
writing over a dozen songs for the project. It was a delightful experience and the thrill of a
lifetime to work alongside one of the literary world’s greatest writers, Mr. Ray Bradbury. The
production enjoyed a successful run at the Pasadena Playhouse and was well received by the
media and patrons of California’s State Theater.
Jose and Susan have been together since 1971. In1988, they were blessed with a daughter, Melissa
Anne; in 1991, with their first son, Jonathan Jose and in 1995, with their third child, Michael Julian.
Together they live in a 275+ year-old former tavern-turned-homestead on a river in Fairfield
County, Connecticut. It’s lively, even noisy at times; the perfect place for an active household like
the Feliciano’s! When Jose is home, his time is spent writing and recording in his studio, enjoying
baseball -- both playing and listening on the radio – going to the gym and being a dad!
In the early 90’s, Jose indulged himself a little by staying closer to home, enjoying his young
family and trying his hand at a life-long dream: “…to be on the air!!” The local Westport,
Connecticut radio station, WMMM, became the perfect instrument for his desire. Its general
manager, Mark Graham, and Jose had a Saturday morning talk show entitled, “Speaking of Music,”
where they would chat, take phone calls, share musical tidbits and trivia, interview musical
artists and play an array of music from jazz and blues to the rock ‘n’ roll of the 50’s and early 60’s
to pop and more. The community embraced their collaboration and the show continued for well
over a year until Jose’s touring schedule simply couldn’t afford the time it took to broadcast a
Over the years, Jose has been part of many historic events, sharing the stage with other
internationally renowned artists. For instance, Jose participated in the American Bicentennial
celebration at Ft. McHenry and the Lady Liberty Concert in New York along with Frank Sinatra,
Elizabeth Taylor, Helen Hayes, Barry Manilow and Mikhail Baryshnikov before Presidents
Reagan and Francois Mitterand.
Jose co-headlined with Paul Simon and James Taylor at the internationally acclaimed ‘Back To
The Ranch Benefit’ on Long Island and performed on the Motown 25 Special where he preceded
Michael Jackson’s premier ‘moonwalk.’ He took part in the PBS Television Concert Special
entitled, “The Kennedy Center Presents - The Americanos Concert,” the Christmas Tree lighting
ceremony in Washington, D.C. and party at the White House.
Jose truly recognizes his great fortune in having met some of the world’s most notable artists,
writers, scientists, sports figures, heads-of-state, royal figures and, among his greatest honors, to
have performed for two Popes: Pope John Paul II during “Christmas at the Vatican” and Pope
Benedict XVI before the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium.
In the fall of 1997, Jose released his most important recording in a number of years, “Señor Bolero,”
for it marked a return to his musical roots. Having revolutionized the sound of the bolero earlier
in his career, Jose elevated it to another new standard while again indulging himself in this
classic, romantic music for which he’d been long associated.
PolyGram, his Label at the time, had designed an elaborate promotional campaign to support this
exciting collection of boleros and the public’s response was absolutely phenomenal. In the first
two weeks of its release, it had out-sold the previous Spanish album, which at that time had been
out for two years. The first single from “Señor Bolero,” “Me Has Echado Al Olvido,” shot straight to
number one in New York and in countries throughout Central and South America. In less than
six weeks after the release of “Señor Bolero,” it had earned platinum status in the U.S. and Puerto
Rico. Shortly thereafter, it was nominated by NARAS for Best Latin Pop Album of the year,
marking Jose’s sixteenth nomination. “Señor Bolero” attained DOUBLE PLATINUM status in The
United States, Puerto Rico and Venezuela and GOLD in Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina.
On the heels of a successful Spanish-language recording career, Jose Feliciano entered the new
Millennium with great impact: Los Premios Globos honored him with the tremendous accolade,
the “Artist of the Millennium Award” and he received the “Alma Award for Lifetime Achievement.”
These new honors joined an ever-increasing collection of mementos that line the walls of his
recording studio and bring to his visitors a sense of awe. They see first-hand, not only the history
but the great love shown to him by his admirers from around the world and an industry that has
embraced him for 50 years!
In 2005, another genre was explored, this time, a collection of Mexican Mariachis. In “A
Mexico...con Amor” Jose was able to express his affection for the people and music of Mexico in
much the same way he’d illuminated the beauty of the Bolero. With the orchestral arrangements
of veteran, Jose Hernandez, it proved to be a stunning collection of cherished Mexican standards,
presented in a contemporary manner and delighting listeners from Mexico to Melbourne to
Accolades continued to follow and In September, 2006, The Hispanic Heritage Foundation, an
organization that identifies, inspires, promotes and prepares Latino role models through national
leadership, cultural, educational and workforce programs, honored Jose with their prestigious
“Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Having joined past
recipients including Oscar de la Renta, Celia Cruz and Raul Julia, Jose was both honored and
humbled by the display of affection shown him at the Gala which was aired on both the NBC and
Telemundo television networks. Truly, Jose had become a bi-lingual icon; the original Crossover
artist of our time and the world was beginning to recognize it.
In 2008 Jose was given yet another opportunity to stretch the limits, musically, this time when he
explored the typical countryside music of the Dominicanos - The Bachata. The album, part of his
now-popular “Señor Series,” was aptly titled, “Señor Bachata!”
Leila Cobo from Billboard.com put it so well when she wrote:
“It’s always a challenge to take an artist out of his or her established format and plunge him or her into
another. So it’s a tribute to José Feliciano’s artistry that he’s able to navigate pop and tropical idioms with
ease, and that his foray into Bachata—perhaps the genre most alien to his long recording history—is
convincing to the musician and the style…”
Making this an even more exciting and important release for Jose and the music industry, “Señor
Bachata!” was awarded TWO Grammy Awards in 2008: for “Best Contemporary Tropical Album” by
LARAS, the Latin Association of Recording Arts and Sciences and “Best Tropical Album” by
NARAS, the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.
With these two Grammy Awards, Jose Feliciano became one of but a handful of artists who, for
over a forty-year period, is still viable in the recording industry and still earning Grammy
Awards. In Jose’s case, he has remained relevant in both the English and Spanish cultures so
consequently, in November 2011, LARAS honored him with their prestigious “Lifetime
Achievement Award” in recognition of his life’s work. Jose is now among an elite group of
individuals who have, during their lifetimes, greatly contributed to the entertainment industry.
Even with the attention given to his roots in the Spanish culture and his life spent on American
soil, Jose’s music has touched people in all corners of the world. He has a particularly
warmhearted affection for Europe: Austria, in particular. Back in the mid ‘80s, because of his
visionary manager, Helmuth Schaerf, Jose recorded what was to become an iconic song, “The
Sound of Vienna,” and for many years, passengers on every Austrian Airlines flight arriving in
Vienna would be greeted with Jose’s singing of it. Now it has become the Official Anthem of the
City of Vienna.
Additionally, Jose was humbled to have been chosen to represent Austria when he was named
Honorary President of the Ronald McDonald Children’s Aid of Austria, ‘Kinderhilfe.’ “The privilege of
sharing in the magic of what the Ronald McDonald Children’s Aid of Austria accomplishes for children
and their parents is unparalleled and I am thrilled to be associated with it.”
Midway during 2013, the Sound of Vienna was again to resonate literally in Jose’s life as his
Viennese manager and long-time friend, Helmuth Schaerf, came back on board to handle the
business of Jose’s complex musical career. Breathing new life into this 50-year phenomenon, the
years ahead promise nothing but great things for Jose and those who are impacted by his music.
Jose’s gifts of time, treasure and talent have earned him the reputation of great humanitarian and
“Ambassador of Good Will” throughout the world. “I’ll never forget where I came from or the people
who helped my family or me along the way.” For this reason, Jose will often lend a hand or his name
in support of causes that he believes are important. Even though Jose has recorded nearly 70
albums in his impressive career he is still humble with all the successes he has had and,
remarkably, feels that he has just started to share his talents with the world.
March & April 2016 - USA & South America
May & June 2016 - Europe + on request