Full name, Julio Jose Iglesias de la Cueva; born September 23, 1943, in Madrid, Spain; son of Julio Iglesias Puga (a gynecologist) and Maria del Rosario (maiden name, de la Cueva Perignat); married Isabel Preisler, January 20, 1971 (annulled 1979); children: Julio Jose, Enrique, Chaveli. Education: Attended law school in Spain. Addresses: Home --4500 Biscayne Blvd., #333, Miami, Fla. l0004. Office --c/o CBS International, 51 West 52 St., New York, N.Y. 10019.
Spanish-born singer Julio Iglesias has sold more albums than any other singer in the world--over one hundred million as of 1984. He started out singing in Spanish and winning audiences from his homeland and from Latin American countries. Then Iglesias branched into singing in Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Japanese, and English, gaining fans throughout Europe and Asia, and finally in Great Britain and the United States. Though he did not catch on until the early 1980s with non-Hispanic American audiences--traditionally difficult for foreign acts--when he did, he broke through in a big way, filling concert halls in New York, Los Angeles, and other major U.S. cities. His popular 1984 album 1100 Bel Air Place included duets with many American music celebrities, notably the hit "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," recorded with country singer Willie Nelson.
Iglesias, whose full name is Julio Jose Iglesias de la Cueva, was born September 23, 1943, in Madrid, Spain. The son of a prominent physician, Iglesias had a comfortable childhood. His parents sent him to Catholic school, where his grades were mediocre at best and he did not measure up to the standards of the choir. Instead, he began to excel at soccer. Though as he grew older Iglesias became more concerned with his studies and aimed at Spain's diplomatic service, he continued to play soccer and earned a membership at the age of sixteen in the junior reserve squad of the prestigious Real Madrid Club de Futbol.
When Iglesias was about twenty years old and working towards a law degree, however, his hopes for a future as a soccer star were dashed by a near-fatal automobile accident. The encounter with a runaway truck that forced his car off the road left him paralyzed from the chest down. But Iglesias was determined not to use a wheelchair, and worked at physical therapy almost unceasingly. And during the long months of his recovery, one of his nurses presented him with a guitar in an effort to take his mind off his disabilities. Iglesias began trying to play along with the songs he heard on the radio; when he had learned to do that, he began composing his own. While still crippled, he watched a telecast of a music festival competition with his mother and told her that someday he himself would win one.
Not long after Iglesias regained the use of his legs (he still retains a slight limp from the accident), he began to push himself towards that goal. On a trip to England to improve his English, he composed the song "La Vida sigue igual" (title means "Life Goes on as Usual"), and used it to win the 1968 Benidorm Song Festival on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. This was the first step on Iglesias's way to international stardom, but although he continued to enter contests such as 1970's Eurovision Festival, for which he wrote the song "Guendoline," he devoted most of his time to completing his law degree in accordance with his parents' wishes. When he finished, though, he concentrated on his singing career with great fervor. Iglesias won 1972's Eurovision contest; by that time he had signed a contract with Alhambra Records and was being heard not only throughout Europe but in Latin America, Romania, Japan, and the Middle East.
Since then Iglesias has released over one hundred albums; he averages roughly eight in a year. He has gained a reputation as a Latin-lover-type sex symbol though he has been married and divorced and has three children. Iglesias's biggest fans are mostly women over twenty-five; his appeal was explained by Italian psychologist Erika Kaufmann to Gerald Clarke in Time: "He rouses middle-aged women, especially the depressed ladies with no dreams. When he sings, they come alive." But Iglesias's phenomenal success is not merely the result of filling the needs of lonely females. "Behind Iglesias's undeniable mystique," asserts Jim Miller in Newsweek, "lies an astonishing amount of sheer hard work." He often spends over nine months a year in recording studios, doing many takes of each song until he is completely satisfied, frequently working into the early hours of the morning. "The result," lauded Miller, "is records that shimmer in the mind like the memory of a Mediterranean sunset."
Despite switching to the larger CBS International record company in about 1980, Iglesias still found it difficult to get through to an English-speaking audience. When it happened, it began by accident--British tourists in Europe brought Iglesias's records home with them. They circulated among British disc jockeys and received airplay, and Iglesias became the first Hispanic singer to have a number one song in England--a Spanish-language version of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." CBS took notice, and prepared to release Iglesias albums in English. The company also planned to promote the singer in the United States. Iglesias began appearing at events with American celebrities, on American television talk shows. After former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy saw him in a Washington, D.C., performance, he received invitations to sing at the White House.
By the time Iglesias released 1100 Bel Air Place, he had already become well-known in the United States. The album featured duets with stars like Diana Ross, the Beach Boys, and the Pointer Sisters. While some critics, such as Lynn Van Matre in the Chicago Tribune, denigrated Iglesias's multi-genre approach as an attempt to please too many diverse tastes, it proved effective. His biggest American splash, perhaps, was made in the country music audience. "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," his duet with Willie Nelson, rose to the top ten of Billboard 's music charts. With the addition of fans in the United States, Iglesias's world conquest was complete.
by Elizabeth Thomas
Julio Iglesias's Career
Singer, songwriter, solo concert performer and recording artist, 1968--.
Julio Iglesias's Awards
Won first prize at Spain's Benidorm Song Festival in 1968; won first prize in Eurovision song contest in 1972. With approximately 350 gold albums and 100 platinum, holds world's record for number of albums sold.
- Selective Works
- Como el Alamo al camino Alhambra, 1972.
- Julio Iglesias Alhambra, 1972.
- Soy Alhambra, 1973.
- A Mexico Alhambra, 1975.
- El Amor Alhambra, 1975.
- America Alhambra, 1976.
- A mis 33 anos Alhambra, 1977.
- Emociones Alhambra, 1978.
- Hoy CBS, 1980.
- De nina a mujer CBS, 1981.
- El Disco de oro CBS, 1981.
- Momentos CBS, 1982.
- Julio CBS, c. 1983.
- 1100 Bel Air Place (includes "To All the Girls I've Loved Before"), CBS, 1984.
- Daly, Marsha, Julio Iglesias, St. Martin's, 1986.
- Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1984.
- Ladies' Home Journal, August, 1985. Newsweek, July 11, 1983.
- Time, September 10, 1984.