“King of Bolero,” Lucho Gatica was honored with the 2,354th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Leron Gubler, presided over the ceremony. Guests included Maria Conchita Alonso, Johnny Mathis, and George Hamilton.
7021 Hollywood Boulevard on January 25, 2008.
Lucho Gatica was born in Rancagua, Chile in 1928. He attended school at Instituto O’Higgins. He and his brother Arturo were struggling singers before they released their first album, in 1949, when Gatica was twenty one years old.
Chileans generally experienced a change in music taste during the 1950s, when bolero music overtook tango as Chileans’ preferred music genre for some time. Singers like Cuba’s Olga Guillot, and Mexicans Leo Marini and Elvira Rios, among others, were very popular during that time there. So were Xavier Cugat and his orchestra, which included Puerto Rican Bobby Capo. These singers would influence Gatica.
Gatica’s first disc, 1951’s Me Importas Tu (You Matter to Me) became a mega hit across Latin America, opening many doors for Gatica. He followed that with 1952s Contigo en la Distancia (With You in the Distance).
Gatica recorded his version of Consuelo Velázquez’s Bésame Mucho (Kiss Me a Lot) in 1953, year in which he produced two more albums, Las Muchachas de la Plaza España (The Girls from the Spain Square) and Sinceridad (Sincerity).
By 1957, Gatica moved to Mexico, a country that would become of great importance in his life. In Mexico, he released No me Platiques Mas (Don’t Talk to me Anymore), Tu me Acostumbraste (You Accustomed Me) and Voy a Apagar la Luz (I’m Turning the Lights Off), which was released in 1959.
In 1956, Gatica’s songs were recorded in North America on LP albums for the first time by Capital Records (‘Capitol’ of the World series). Three albums were released within 14 months by Capitol. The third one in that group with Capitol was “El Gran Gatica,” which featured such songs as “Somos,” “Sabra Dios,” and “Si Me Comprendieras,” to name three. One of the three Lucho Gatica albums released in 1958 year were greatest hits compilations; the third was named Envenenados (Poisoned). He also recorded a song entitled “Encadenados” (Chained (we are)).
Gatica had important changes in his personal life after arriving in Mexico for the first time. He decided to become a permanent resident of that North American country, and married Puerto Rican actress Mapita Cortes, who had been a celebrity in Mexico (and Puerto Rico) for some years, and who also resided in Mexico. The couple had offspring, including two sons actually named Luis and Alfredo Gatica. Luis went on to become a telenovela and rock star during the 1980s and Alfredo (Alfie) became a music entrepreneur. Gatica remarried an American woman and had one daughter with her, as well. One of Gatica’s last known releases was 1963’s Recuerdos de Amor (Memories of Love).
It is estimated that Gatica has released more than 90 recordings. He has toured a vast portion of the world, having made concerts in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. His influence on world music is overwhelming; vocalists of many nationalities and languages felt Lucho’s impact and have, at one time or another, sung and recorded “boleros”, from Perry Como to Peggy Lee to Dionne Warwick to The Beatles; even Doris Day recorded a bolero album and Nat King Cole went further by recording in Spanish three albums which included many of Lucho’s greatest hits. Julio Iglesias has publicly confessed that Lucho remains his one single musical influence and calls him “The Master” while younger singers such as Mexico’s mega-star Luis Miguel have both enhanced their popular appeal and careers by recording cover versions of the songs Lucho made famous.