Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Most Happy Fella

Live till you're 93 and you can leave a lot of life behind. In the case of Manitas de Plata, a virtuoso of Flamenco guitar who has just passed away at 93, that life can contain many women, one wife, 13 legally recognized children, and a total of perhaps 11 to 15 others, that, with DNA testing, would undoubtedly be linked back to him with legal certainty. He was a busy guy. He could have been chosen to be the Grand Marshall to lead the French Fathers' Day parade.

In yesterday's NYT obituary on Mr. de Plata, Bruce Weber renders affection and respect when he describes Mr, de Plata as having lived "a life of fulfilled appetites."

Known as a free spender, as well as a money making machine from his recordings and concerts, Mr. de Plata perhaps not surprisingly outlived what fortunes he made by wide margins. He befriended numerous famous people, generally in Europe, and especially on the French Riviera.

As the Cher song goes, he was "born in a wagon," a Romany Gypsy caravan in 1921 in Cette, France as Ricardo Baliardo. He adopted the name Manitas de Plata, which translated means "little hands of silver."

Usually, when someone who achieves notoriety in any field passes away, the names of the immediate survivors are given, along with a count of grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren. Given Mr. de Plata's joie de vivre lifestyle, only the name of one of his female partners is given, (and not the sole wife) Claudette Mariaux, and a daughter from that relationship, Francoise.

It is easy to understand why Mr. de Plata might have had financial trouble. The birthday presents and cards alone would strain any income.

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