Julio Iglesias: The Quixote of the American Dream
February 13, 2009
This week the image of the idol who sings songs of love is highlighted on billboards on Miami’s main thoroughfares, he’s the star of the moment on radio and television, and a huge banner with his picture decorates the American Airlines Arena facade.
“Miami was the first city to listen to me (in the United States), and it took me in with a lot of affection. I feel privileged to have received so much, and I’m very grateful,” the singer expressed during an phone interview with the Daily Las Américas, while he prepared for his concert this Saturday, Valentine’s Day at 8 p.m.
For a night dedicated to romance and lovers, the singer says he will include the audience’s favorite songs. From “Hey!”, to “De niña a mujer”, “Vuela alto”, “Manuela”, “Divorcio”, “Un canto a Galicia”, “Abrázame”, “Me olvidé de vivir”, “Quijote” and “I Want To Know What Love Is”, for sure these favorites will be on the menu come the night of the concert.
For many, it’ll be a night of reunion with love and with the singer who for three generations has managed to stay in first place, with his concerts packed.
Without a doubt, Iglesias is among those who believe in the American Dream. He was well known in Europe, but was a new face in the United States when he arrived in Miami, knocking on doors at a time when Spanish radio had scarcely begun to take off in any great way. With his great vision, the Spanish singer had an intuition that things would change.
He began by renting a small apartment on the beach. But it wasn’t long before he decided to buy a house on the water in exclusive Indian Creek. The house, which he bought for about a million and a half dollars, today is worth around $27 million, and like his career, all that surrounds him seems to have been touched by the magic wand of a wizard.
“If I knew what magic wand it could be, because I only know of one magic wand that I’ve been told I have… and that the press is always exaggerating”, he said jokingly, evading the topic of his skills in the world of business.
But the Columbian producer Fernan Martinez, who was his publicist for ten years and his manager for two, says that “everything that Julio does in his life ends up being multiplied by thousands.” and adds by defining his formula for success:
“It’s his style, personality,the unique melody of his voice, intelligence,charm, his image… It is he who paved the way for all the Latin artists in the United States. He’s been doing for 30 years what everyone wants to do now”, stated Martínez.
He adds that, when it concerns the heroic feat of breaking into the North American market, Julio is number one.
“Julio has gone where nobody else has been able to; he has sung with Frank Sinatra, with Willie Nelson, with Diana Ross, with Dolly Parton, with Stevie Wonder, with Sting, and with the Beach Boys. He is the only artist who talks with heads of state, princes and kings. He has sung in the White House and in front of the Pyramids. They know him in any country in the world. Until now, there wasn’t any artist who’s been able to do the same,” adds Martinez.
His fans remain faithful throughout the years. In Miami, Remedios Diaz Oliver, one of the best known Hispanic businesswomen in the country, has followed his career since the beginning.
“I was at his first concert in Miami, and I’ll be at his Valentine’s day concert in the Miami Arena with a group of friends. My husband Fausto and I have been big fans of Julio since the beginning. We’ve gone to New York to see him, and also to Spain and Puerto Rico. With my kids and grandkids we are three generations of Julio fans”.
Music came to the singer’s life in an unexpected way, at 20 years of age, when he was playing football for Real Madrid as a goalkeeper and he was in a car accident, which left him for three years in a wheel-chair. To improve the movement in his hands, they gave him a guitar with which he began to write songs. With one of those songs, “La vida sigue igual”, he won the Benidorm Song Festival in 1968. His career had taken off.
Journalists admire him for his work ethic, for fulfilling his obligations, and for his modesty. “He is the only artist down through the years who not only recognizes you, but remembers the things that interest you, and also remembers your children,” said one reporter.
Among those who have succeeded in cementing a friendship with the singer through the years is the television presenter Mauricio Zeilic, who emphasizes the human side of the Spanish idol.
“Julio is a friend to his friends, in good times and in bad times.”Moreover, having that world-famous stature as a singer, he keeps being a noble person, who manages to convey a humbleness which he hasn’t lost and that you can’t find in people that have achieved so much in life. Furthermore, Julio has never forgotten the simple things in life. I dare say that he’s somebody who has great respect for life”, explained Zeilic.
With a fortune that exceeds hundreds of millions of dollars, Paul McCartney is the only singer thought to have a larger fortune. He has houses in Miami, the Dominican Republic and in Spain, and two private jets (he will take delivery of the second one in March), but he states that “he’s embarrassed to talk about those things.”
Of his investments in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with four partners who include the designer Oscar de La Renta, he says that they are a great cause of satisfaction.
“Actually my partners are phenomenal people, and with them we’ve created a marvelous place to live or for vacations, including an airport. We already have 12,000 workers in the resort,” he explains enthusiastically.
“His house in Punta Cana is maravelous, with a Thai theme and ambience. It’s got a circumferencial pool which completely surrounds the house, and five seperate guest bungalows. It’s a house that doesn’t have conventional walls, instead joined wood beams that let the air circulate throughout the entire house. It’s a very cool house and has palm fans around everywhere”, saud Maria Pia Cassinelli, producer of the channel E! Entertainment, who visited the house during the promotion for the album “Divorcio”.
After his divorce from the Philippine Isabel Preysler, mother of his children Chabeli, Julio and Enrique, he had a long succession of relationships lasting years, months, or for the duration of a break from one concert to the next. The press always had material with his romances, that included beauty queens, fans, and well-known figures like Priscilla Presley and Giannina Facio. For years he said that he hadn’t been able to recover from his divorce to Preysler, and when many were sure that he would never settle down, he did so at the side of Miranda Rijnsburger, the mother of his five younger children; Michael, Rodrigo, Victoria, Cristina and Guillermo, who is scarcely 21 months old.
“Miranda is an exceptional woman and I feel very fortunate. Besides, with her I have five children who are a treasure and a source of great happiness, a reason to live, as are my three older children”, he said adding that he is really enjoying this stage in his life.
“I have the good fortune to have a new opportunity and when life has been so good to you, you have to be very grateful, and I’m a grateful person; that’s why I very much appreciate the affection the people have awarded me during so many years”, said this singer who had never imagined that his future would be onstage.
“I always say that I am a lawyer, because that’s the degree I was studying in Madrid. I only needed one semester of International Law to graduate”, said the artist. In 2001, he decided to complete the promise that he had made to his father to get his degree from the Complutense University of Madrid. “They asked me some questions, and in the end the professor told me ‘With so many contracts that you’ve signed and revised throughout the world, you know more of International Law than anyone,’ and he signed what was needed to receive my diploma”.
His plans for this year don’t include a new album. “I don’t have the desire now to lock myself up in the studio; I prefer to be onstage, to continue working, to continue feeling alive, to continue giving thanks, to continue breathing, to continue enjoying my children and my grandson, and to try to understand why life has rewarded me with such generosity”.