Leaves school at 12 to sing in the streets
for coins that buy bread, milk, and cigarettes.
At 16, departs his isla for Málaga and the Taberna Gitana.
A few months later he’s in Madrid
launching his historic collaboration with Paco de Lucia.
Soon they are stars on the flamenco festival circuit.
At 29, he records Legend of Time, fusing cante jondo
with drums, bass, keyboard, cocaine, electric guitar and heroin.
Although the experimental LP sells poorly, he can still fill sports stadiums.
To his last cancer-eroded breath,
this tortured cantaor drags his ancient art into the 20th century.
Puristas scream, but everywhere he carries
his musical diploma with him:
on his left hand a tattoo
of a Star of David and a Muslim Crescent Moon.
(Camarón de la Isla)