Jose was born blind, to humble beginnings on September
10, 1945, in Lares, Puerto Rico. One of eleven boys, his love affair
with music began at the age of three when he first accompanied his uncle
on a tin cracker can. When he was five, his family immigrated to New
York City. Young Jose learned to play the concertina at age six, using a
handful of records as his teacher. At eight, he performed for his
classmates at PS 57, and at nine, performed at The Puerto Rican Theater.
Wanting to venture beyond the accordion, he taught himself to play the
guitar with undaunted determination and again, with nothing but records
as his teacher for as many as 14 hours a day. Exposed to the rock-n-roll
of the 50's, Jose was then inspired to sing.
At 17, Jose quit school. His father was not working at
the time and he needed to help his family. He played coffee houses in
Greenwich Village and for his salary they passed the hat. He played his
first professional engagement that same year in Detroit. Shortly
thereafter, a music critic writing of his performance at Gerde's Folk
City referred to him as a "10-fingered wizard who romps, runs,
rolls, picks and reverberates his six strings in an incomparable
fashion." And added, "If you want to witness the birth of a
star, catch Mr. Feliciano before he leaves tomorrow night."
By the time he was 23, he had won two Grammy Awards,
had performed over much of the world, and had recorded songs in four
languages. But Jose Feliciano was not satisfied. He had a desire
to expand his career to include acting and made a number of dramatic TV
Venturing into another artistic genre, he was invited,
in the early 90's, by legendary author, Ray Bradbury, to write the music
to his play, "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit." He did so with
the grace of a veteran.
One of Jose's most memorable moments came the day he
joined other entertainment legends in having his star permanently
implanted on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (In respect to similar
accolades, Jose has also been given a star on the Walk of Fame in his
native Puerto Rico alongside Jose Ferrer and Raul Julia. In addition,
Jose had his hands cast for the world famous Wall of Fame in Madame
Tussaud's in London, England. His 'hands' are now on display among
artists such as Phil Collins, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Michael Jackson and
The Backstreet Boys. The induction took place on June 23, 1998 in
Jose Feliciano earned his sixth Grammy Award in 1991 and is
the only performer who has won pop music awards in two language
categories. On January 8, 1997, Jose's "Americano" album was
nominated for a Grammy, marking his fifteenth nomination.
Jose Feliciano is one of just of few artists to
have signed a multi-tiered record contract with a major label to record
in both English and Spanish, as well as classical. Even the local government
of New York City has honored Jose by re-naming Public School 155 in East
Harlem dedicating it as The Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School.
Three songs that have been milestones for Feliciano
are: 1) "Light My Fire," which was number one on the charts in
1968 and according to the song publisher, now is a "standard"
due to Jose's interpretation. 2) "Che Sera," a mega-success in
Europe, Asia and South America and of course, 3) "Feliz Navidad,"
the Christmas song that has now become a tradition worldwide during the
holiday season every year.
From a historical point of view, it should be noted
that Jose Feliciano was the first artist to ever stylize the
National Anthem and perform it publicly. He did so during the world
series on October 7, 1968, and it was the first time the anthem became a
charted Top-40 recording. He opened the door for new generations of
stylization; the national anthem is rarely sung in its strictly
traditional form since his historic performance.
Over the years, the world has enjoyed many Feliciano
songs, including: "Rain," "Chico and the Man,"
"California Dreamin'," "Destiny," "Affirmation,"
"Ay Cariño," "Ponte A Cantar," "Cuando El Amor
Se Acaba," "Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?" and countless
During mid-1994, Jose Feliciano charted on
Billboard with a dance-single called "Goin' Krazy" under the
moniker of "JF." This was unprecedented for a classic Pop
Artist such as Jose, who had never recorded or released a dance single.
The end of 1994 brought one of Jose's greatest honors –
an invitation to Rome to star on "Christmas at the Vatican"
and to have a private audience with Pope John Paul II.
Likewise, Jose Feliciano has been part of many
historic co-billed events where he has shared the stage with other
internationally renowned artists. One such event that Jose enjoyed
occurred in August of 1995. Jose co-headlined with
Paul Simon and
Taylor at the internationally-acclaimed 'Back To The Ranch Benefit'
on Long Island for an estimated twelve thousand people. In the past,
artists such as Billy Joel and
Sting have been invited to perform on
this show. Jose Feliciano was honored to be ranked among the
caliber of past performers invited to co-headline at this unique
Throughout 1995 there were numerous TV specials in
which Jose appeared. He performed in the USA and Canada, as well as England,
Switzerland, Italy, Vienna, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Japan, Korea, New
Zealand, Australia, The Philippines, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Also
that year, Jose had a cameo appearance in the Academy Award Winning
motion picture "Fargo" in which he performed "Let's Find
Each Other Tonight," a Feliciano composition. He filmed this in
1995. During the month of March 1995, he taped a TV special for PBS in
which he performed with the Puerto Rican Symphony.
In 1996, the double album entitled "Present
Tense" was released in Europe. It is a retrospective collection of
songs that spans his 30 years in the music industry. The following year,
the same recording was released in North America entitled "On
Second Thought." Also in 1996, Jose was selected to receive the
honor of Billboard Magazines' Lifetime Achievement Award.
In November of 1997, PolyGram released "Americano"
worldwide and he, again, began to tour non-stop in support of this
album. It earned for Jose Feliciano his fifteenth Grammy
nomination while the single "No Me Miras Asi" reached the top
10 position in many markets and attained #1 status in New York and
PolyGram released Jose's most important recording in
many years, entitled, "Señor
Bolero." This album marks a return to his
musical roots. Having revolutionized the sound of the bolero early in
his career, he rises to a new standard with this classic and very
romantic torch song, for which he has long been associated. The first
single from Señor
Bolero, "Me Has Echado Al Olvido," shot straight to
number one in New York and is considered to be truly on its way to
national and international success. In less than six weeks after the
release of Señor
Bolero, it had earned its first platinum status in the
U.S. and Puerto Rico. Shortly thereafter, it was nominated by NARAS for
Best Latin Pop Album of the year, marking Jose's sixteenth nomination.
The Christmas Season of 1998 was particularly festive
as Jose Feliciano was invited to attend and perform at the 75th
Annual "Pagaent of Peace" Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in
Washington, D.C., along with artists
Tony Bennett and opera great, Leona
Mitchell. Afterwards, Jose and his family were invited by the President
and Mrs. Clinton to attend their Christmas reception at the White House.
Jose Feliciano has recorded more than 60 albums
in his impressive career. Still humble with all the successes he has
had, he feels that his career is just beginning and that he has just
started to share his talents with the world.