Millions of fans have flocked to his shows for the past four decades and bought his albums in big numbers — over 300 million record wordwide, it’s reported.
He has sung with greats like Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Sting and Placido Domingo and has a reputation of being a ladies’ man, although he will be the first to disagree.
He’s blessed with awfully good looks, an exceptional voice and a talent for communicating with his audiences even to this day, 43 years since he first scored a number hit with La Vida Sigue Igual in his native Spain. His name is Julio Jose Iglesias de la Cueva, and he is unquestionably one of the greatest Latin American singers in history.
And what’s more, he’s coming to town for a one-night-only concert at the Dubai World Trade Centre’s Shaikh Rashid Hall on Thursday, March 21.
tabloid! spoke to Iglesias ahead of the show and learned a few things about what it takes to become a major recording artist and an internationally successful touring balladeer.
Iglesias on... the secret to his success:
“Passion. That’s my little secret. My father was 19 years old when he became a father, imagine that. He had great genes and he also became an incredible doctor. I think I inherited some of those genes [laughs]. I wanted to be so many things, but most of all I wanted to become a singer at 19. I was passionate about it then and I am passionate about it now. It’s a thing with us Latin people, I guess.”
Iglesias on... his unique selling point:
“Life is a package for anyone born in this world. [Pauses, then asks, “How old are you Leslie?” I begin to answer, but he stops me, saying, “Never mind”.] In music, as in life, you have an attitude that is deep inside you and you just have to develop it. You style your hair in a different way and you look better. You build your personality on things like that and what you have inside you. Imagine a politician, like say [Fidel] Castro, where would he have been without his attitude, his image. His beard, the military uniform, he built the attitude that saw him make it to the cover of Time magazine so many times. We all have a natural attitude, and it’s important that you develop that attitude with your image.”
[Asked if he knows if Castro is a fan, he says, “I don’t know and I don’t really care. I sing for the people, not presidents. It won’t change my life anyway if I heard that a president or a celebrity was my fan. No. It’s the people that matter. The only celebrity that I had in my life was my father.”]
Iglesias on... being a celebrity:
“When you go on stage the only thing that matters is the communion, the marriage between you and the fans. When you go on stage you feel an atmosphere that is unique. After 45 years of being on stage from Finland to China, to Dubai, I don’t feel any different. You always go on stage for one reason — because of the passion. Without that you die earlier. So for me it’s not a question of the money I make on tour, I have so many corporations that can make hundred times more money with me sitting at a desk in an office, than I do singing. I am just happy to share my gift of song. This tour that I’m doing takes me all around the world — to China, Singapore, Philippines, Dubai, Qatar, Oman, Mexico, Spain. If I would not have the passion to do it then it’s meaningless. Mind you it’s not easy for me at my age, I’m 69 years old. For me to get on a plane and go to the most beautiful place in the world is easy. But the atmosphere that I create with my musicians, the people who travel with me, the people that I meet on tour, it’s a beautiful atmosphere.”
Iglesias on... performing in Dubai:
“Everyone is talking about Dubai. My wife was excited when I said I was going to sing in Dubai, she said she was coming as well. I know it’s a great place and everyone in my crew is so happy to be there.”
Iglesias on... collaborating with singers such as Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder:
“When you sing with people like Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Sting… so may people… Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Placido Domingo [who performs in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday], when you hear their voices you feel something special is going on, a kind of magic. It’s a great experience and you also learn from that experience. You feel like you’re on the moon, it’s a phenomenal feeling. I was also very excited to sing with them because it gives me an opportunity to tell my kids, and I have so many, that I sang with their idols. It’s great, unbelievable.
Iglesias on... plans to collaborate with his son, Enrique:
“Not really. It’s also very hard to ask my kids to do a duet with me at the cost of sounding too commercial. I don’t want to push my kids into that sort of a situation.”
Iglesias on... his fellow Latin singers:
“The younger generation has such amazing artists, they are growing up with new sounds, new instruments and new electronic instruments. They have opportunities to make a record very fast, unlike the old days, where we did so many takes before we got it right. Today’s studios are much more contemporary. It’s amazing.”
Iglesias on... change in the music industry:
“Change is good, when it is for the better. But you must also have the talent, without talent you cannot progress in the music industry even if you sing with your heart and soul.”
Iglesias on... the impact of the internet on music:
“The internet is a machine which allows you to connect your feelings or your tastes with music that you can download in 10 seconds. It’s the life of today, you can’t stop that. You will be stupid if you did try to stop something that is in the heart of millions of kids who communicate through the internet. What is important is to understand how it affects the creative people, the artists, the composers, the writers. You should give a thought for the intellectual rights of a writer. The internet is a different way to collect a record but at the same time it’s like stealing money from the artists and the composers, which is incorrect for me. You cannot take a song that does not pay back something to the people who made it.”
Iglesias on... being a football player:
“I played football for many years, around seven, I think, I was the goalkeeper for the junior team of Real Madrid Castilla, which is a sort of reserve team for Real Madrid. I was also a trainee with the first team. I loved football, but I think my love for music was even greater.”
Message for his Dubai fans
“I respect you guys and I guarantee that the concert will be special. My fans mean everything, they are the ones who buy my records and come to my concerts. They are the reason I still tour.”
Julio Iglesias performs at Dubai World Trade Centre on Thursday in an all-seated concert. Tickets, Dh320-1,300 (varying catgories), available at leading physical and online ticket retailers.