BLACK IS BLACK TURNS 50

BLACK IS BLACK TURNS 50

Los_Bravos

To make a list of songs that have accompanied Flower Power during its time at Pacha Ibiza is not easy, but there is one that hasn’t stopped playing throughout the history of the party: Black is Black by Los Bravos, which turns 50 this year since its release. This is a tune played by a Spanish group that reached the top of the English and American charts and its story, like all great songs, is full of curiosities and unexpected twists.

Four young hipsters and fans of Anglo-Saxon music left their previous band, Los Sonors, to embark on a new adventure. Bassist, Miguel Vicens Danus, guitarist Tony Martinez, keyboardist Manuel Fernandez and drummer Paul Sanllehí recruited for their band an unknown German singer, Michael Kögel, better known as Mike Kennedy. Together they formed Los Bravos and with their manager / producer Alain Milhaud, they made history.

Alain wanted his band to have a sudden rise, so he contacted the label Decca in London and selected the perfect song from a catalog: “Black is black”. That’s right, Los Bravos didn’t compose the song, it were three unknown Englishmen who signed this track: Hayes, Wadey and Grainger (also responsible for another great Flower Power song known as “Los chicos con las chicas”). «If I were the composer I would not be here. I would be in Miami, ha ha. The money it has made is incalculable», Mike Kennedy said in a recent interview.

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But it doesn’t stop here. As the recording was going to be in London and the British Musicians’ Union didn’t allow non English musicians to participate in the records recorded in England, Los Bravos couldn’t perform in the recording. They had no choice but to spend a week watching their singer Mike sing over the instrumental song previously recorded by studio musicians. It’s said that one of those artists was Jimmy Page, studio guitarist at that time. The legend Led Zeppelin said in an interview «Did I play in Black is Black by Los Bravos? Not that I can remember. Playing in the studio was like signing in at the office. Nine to twelve with a singer. From one to three with a group. In the afternoon, with an orchestra. Sometimes, we didn’t even knew the name of the song or artist!«.

Black is Black was released as a single in August 1966, the track premiered at No. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in the US, reaching #1 on the UK charts and #2 on the American charts, whilst in Spain it sold over two million copies. Los Bravos became a global phenomenon and an essential group for understanding the history of national music.

So when you next attend Flower Power, pay attention, open your ears and wait to hear the first beats of a song that makes Pacha Ibiza’s main dance floor go crazy: Black is Black by Los Bravos. Happy Birthday!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkwmSzPdVnY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxsdKoDXAiA

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