Who is Paco Peña?
Born in Córdoba, Spain as Francisco Peña Pérez, Paco Peña began learning to play the guitar from his brother at age 6 and made his first professional appearance at 12. Encouraged by his family, he left home and began performing throughout Spain as part of a government-sponsored folk music and dance program. This led to calls from professional Flamenco companies in Madrid and the Costa Brava, where Peña established himself as a highly regarded accompanist to Flamenco dance and singing. However, dissatisfied with life on the coast and seeking a new challenge, he moved to London in the late 1960s to become a soloist. Initially the star attraction in the Restaurante Antonio in Covent Garden, Peña generated so much interest among a British public previously uninitiated in Flamenco that he soon found himself sharing concerts with artists such as Jimi Hendrix, and made his solo debut at Wigmore Hall in 1967. It was not long before Peña was touring the world, both as a soloist and an accompanist with performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He later founded the world's first university course on flamenco guitar, at the Rotterdam conservatory of music. In 1984 Peña was interviewed by Julian Bream for the Channel 4 television series Guitarra! which traces the development of the guitar in Spain.