The Asturian Manolo Díaz, one of the most prominent representatives of the music industry on the international scene, with a career that is difficult to emulate, will end a career “bathed in luck” with a Latin Grammy that he will receive with great emotion and the conviction that the time has come to step aside.
Born in Oviedo, he lives between Miami, Madrid and Luanco, where he received Efe on the occasion of the Grammy Award ceremony that will be awarded to him by the Board of Directors of the Latin Recording Academy on November 16 in Las Vegas.
The producer cites the word luck on several occasions throughout the interview to explain the success of his career, but he has recognized that to take advantage of it he has had to “always be awake”.
Having just begun his octogenarian stage, he is clear that he has already done everything as a composer, singer, producer and consultant for audiovisual industries in the US and Latin America.
Manolo Díaz has held the positions of the highest responsibility of large multinationals such as CBS in Spain, then Sony and president of Polygram for Latin America, which later became Universal, to later refuse to renew his contract.
“I didn’t want to renew because the companies weren’t getting their act together when it came to solving something that was coming, such as the impact of digital”, explained the producer who felt uncomfortable with the lack of perspective that the leaders of the companies, who lived according to the results of the year.
At that point he took a short sabbatical to end up accepting the presidency of the first Board of Directors of the Latin Recording Academy, where he spent a little over two years, so that he is closely linked to the Grammy Awards, he commented.
His last link with the music industry was on the occasion of the creation of the Latin Grammys Foundation to help the careers of talented Latin music students, at whose head he has been for seven years until his final retirement last year.
Since then, he has lived retired from the profession, as now, in Luanco, where he spends seasons “eating sandwiches, but without working at all.”
The only unpleasant stage in his life had to do with his involvement in the first stage of the Oscar Niemeyer Center in Avilés, “which was a very nice project, but politics was responsible for destroying it.”
Everything else in his musical career was pleasant. It has been fantastic for him to work with superstars such as Julio Iglesias, Rafaella Carrá, Humberto Tozzi, Roberto Carlos, Miguel Bosé, Juanes or Leonard Cohen, of whom he has special memories.
When he had the idea of making “Poetas en Nueva York”, based on Lorca’s verses, he contacted several artists and it was Cohen who showed an unusual interest in the project.
Manolo Díaz says that he picked up Cohen one day at the airport upon his arrival in Madrid and during the trip to the Hotel Palace he talked about his project “like a young man does who has to sell something to someone” until the singer snapped at him. soon: do you know my daughter’s name?
The question bothered him because it was inopportune and he replied “well, I have no fucking idea”, since it had given him the impression that he had not been listening to him during the whole car ride: “my daughter’s name is Lorca”.
That is where the mythical “Poets in New York” was born, which was later joined by Víctor Manuel, Donovan, Luis Llach or Georges Moustaki, which had nothing commercial, explained his mentor, but which in Spain alone sold 100,000 units.
Aguaviva, another of his beloved creatures, has also allowed him to put music to the work of Rafael Alberti or Blas Otero and thus pour out his passion for poetry.
All that pleiad of stars with whom he has worked is, in reality, he has said, “a cradle of communicators”, because some of them “are not great musicians, some don’t even know where the C is on the piano”, but they know how use music as a vehicle to reach the public.
“Bob Dylan, who is one of the greatest in the history of music, sings out of tune, what happens is that he does it with a style and an identity that connects with people because he is a poet and, later, he is a communicator” , has commented.
In his opinion, the music industry has completely changed because, in the old days, companies marketed the artist and created the need for consumption.
He remembers his time in Paris, helping Julio Iglesias to open the French market, when the concierge of the building where he lived, without knowing what she was doing, told him that she had bought the famous “Vous le femme” of the Spanish singer, before continuing have a record player where you can listen to it.
Díaz has considered that no matter how good musicians the artists are, if they are not communicators, they do not connect with the public, as happened to Julio Iglesias.
He also had time to work as a surveyor on the construction of the railroad in Liberia and to assist in Washington in the civil rights march called by Martin Luther King.
That day, in the Capitol, with more than 200,000 people, he was one of the few whites and on stage Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan and a Luther King who would utter for the first time that “I have a dream”, which gave him goosebumps on end.
An experience that marked him so much that one of the first songs he composed that same night, when he couldn’t sleep, was precisely titled “Yesterday I had a dream”.
Back in Spain, in 1966, he founded Los Bravos, for whom he wrote several of the songs on the first album, “Black is black”, such as “Quiero una motorcycle” or “Las Chicas con los Chicos”, which are mythical songs from the sixties in Spain.
Diaz knew how to see the potential of what would later become the leader of the group, artistically known as Mike Kennedy, who met him in one of his performances: “he got on stage and the first thing he does is put the microphone up his ass and fart with echo and, in addition to everything, tuff in the shops”.
“He’s a kleptomaniac and he farts, but he sings like a god and you have to put up with him and work with him if you want to continue in this business,” the producer explained to his companions.
Then he found in a lost drawer with fifty cassettes a demo of “Black is black” that no one had wanted to record, but that gave them international fame.
He is happy with his entire career and feels a little that it is time to step aside and for others to follow that path: “what is coming now is not that it is very different, it is different, I do not like reggaeton, but Obviously, if I continued working in a multinational I would sell it because that is what the market is asking for”.
“I don’t feel nostalgic, I think we have to leave space for other people to work and eat”, he commented.
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The Asturian producer Manolo Díaz puts an end to a universal career bathed in luck with a Grammy