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Tonino Baliardo


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Tonino Baliardo is the lead guitarist for Gipsy Kings, the pop-flamenco Roma group from France that has sold more than 18 million albums worldwide.

Most Gipsy Kings albums have 3-5 instrumental cuts - all crafted by Baliardo; he’s also contributed much musically to their vocal numbers. After his 2001 solo debut, Essences, Baliardo released an instrumental album under his own name in 2003, all his own originals.

He’s displayed lightning-fast lead work; many guitarists who’ve heard him are amazed to learn he doesn’t use a pick, but finger-picks everything, as do all Gipsy Kings, and flamenco players in general. His compositions and playing reveal soulful Spanish flamenco roots coupled with a knack for appealing melodies and pop-style chord changes that were rarely heard in popular music before the group began recording.

“Tonino is the most creative person in the band,” said Chico Bouchiki, a former member who co-wrote their biggest hit to date, Bamboleo. “He has lots of ideas and a great imagination. He used to go to school with his guitar.” (Guitar Extra, Fall 1990)

Baliardo - like his bandmates - does not read or write music, he said in a 2007 behind-the-scenes video about their album Pasajero. They developed their styles from a lifetime of playing, and years learning from the generations that came before and contributed so much to flamenco music.


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