This decade is turning out to be the farewell to an entire generation of classic flamenco interpreters from before the revolution/evolution set in motion by Camarón and Paco de Lucía.
Now we have lost one of the legendary greats, symbol of a way of playing guitar that is pure Granada.
Juan Carmona Carmona, the great Juan Habichuela for flamenco fans. When we speak of Granada and flamenco guitar, it is inevitable to refer to the Habichuela dynasty that spans several generations, with Juan having been the patriarch until now.
I met him at the New York World's Fair in 1964 when he was playing for Manuela Vargas, with the singing of Fosforito among others. Impressively crisp sound, and compás that took no prisoners. The Granada school par excellence as inherited from his family, and the legendary Juan el Ovejilla.
He returned to New York in 1986 with the great show “Flamenco Puro”.
Like so many other flamenco artists from Granada, he began as a dancer while still a child. His great love of flamenco singing, in addition to his knowledge of dance, propitiated his capacity to raise the art of accompaniment to a level that would pave the way for an entire generation. He accompanied major stars such as Mario Maya, Fernanda Romero, Gracita de Sacromonte, Manolo Caracol, Antonio Mairena, Camarón, Jarrito, Chano Lobato, Enrique Morente and José Mercé among many others, in addition to being the artistic partner of Fosforito. His accompaniment for the dancing of Manuela Vargas established forms that would become the standard for many years.
He was awarded the most important prizes in flamenco: Córdoba, Compás del Cante, Calle de Alcalá, Cátedra de Jerez…in addition to numerous tributes and distinctions. Flamenco followers are in mourning today for a legend that spanned seven decades of the history of this art-form. In addition to his brother, the renowned guitarist Pepe Habichuela, the dynasty continues with young hopeful Juan Habichuela grandson, who holds first prize for guitar from La Unión.