Fifty years without Nino Bravo

TODAY marks 50 years since the sudden, tragic death of one of Valenica’s most famous singers, Nino Bravo.

He is best remembered for his hits Un beso y una flor and Libre, as well as Mi Tierra, Noelia and América, América, all classics that are sure to get Spaniards from every walk of life singing along with gusto.

Bravo was just 28 when he was killed in a car crash on the way to Madrid on 16 April 1973, but despite his youth, he was already an established artist with his distinctive voice and had five studio albums under his belt.

Nino Bravo who died fifty years ago (Wikipedia)

But the ballader wasn’t always known as Nino, he was born Luís Manuel Ferri Llopis in Ayelo de Malferit, a town in the south of the province of Valencia. His family moved to Valencia when he was two, and as a young man, Luís had various jobs, including working as a jeweller and in a restaurant at Valencia airport. All the while, however, he combined work with his great passion, singing, and he was in different groups such as Los Hospanicos and Los Superson. In 1969 he was signed for four years by Fonogram, under the Polydor label although his big break came in the summer of 1970 with the song Te quiero, te quiero, which eventually gave him his first number 1.

From then on the hits came thick and fast, with Voy buscando, Esa será mi casa, and Puerta de amor in the same year. In 1971 came Mi gran amor and Noelia, then in 1972 Un beso y una flor, Mi tierra, and Libre, among others. In September of 1973, América, América was to be a posthumous hit which went straight to number 1.


Bravo, tried twice to be selected to represent Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest, but on the first attempt, in 1970, when he entered with the song Eso será mi casa he failed to reach the final, losing out to Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias who was chosen as Spain’s representative in Eurovision that year, with his song Gwendolyne, which finished fourth in the song contest. Bravo’s second bite at the Eurovision apple came the following year, when he finished in third place, Although he didn’t win the competition to represent Spain, his participation in the television programmes certainly helped boost his popularity and record sales.

With greater success came greater interest from both the media and fans, so on 20 April 1971, Bravo married his girlfriend María Amparo Martinez Gil in secret and before long the couple had two daughters, Amparo and Eva.


Bravo’s music was typical of the late 60s and early 70s, and he was popular both in Spain and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. His funeral, at Valencia’s municipal cemetery, was attended by more than 10,000 people. During the 1980s, however, his style of music fell out of favour somewhat and was seen as a bit passe, perhaps even cheesy, but the late 90s saw a resurgence in the popularity of his music, and his greatest songs are now well and truly part of the national discography.

Bravo has often been compared to Welsh crooner Tom Jones, and indeed the two were contemporaries from the age of velvet bowties and had much in common; belting out romantic ballads and taking part in music festivals and song contests. The Spaniard’s untimely death came at a moment when he had already conquered the South American market, both in sales and concerts, and was poised to tackle the US music scene. Had his career not been cut short, who knows, he may well have been another Tom Jones.

Whether you understand the Spanish lyrics or not there’s so much to enjoy from the music of Nino Bravo, and if you’re still learning Spanish, his clear pronunciation is a great way to practise.

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