BUENOS AIRES – On a day 35 years ago, the father of siblings Lucia and Joaquin Galan shepherded all his neighbors to the only television-equipped bar in La Bustariega, Spain, to watch the first broadcast performance of Pimpinela, now set to receive a Latin Grammy for Lifetime Achievement.
“An award for a disc, for a work, is very fine,” Joaquin, 66, said in an interview with EFE in Buenos Aires.
“But (an award for) your history is something that brings together many things and also involves the public,” he said, while Lucia, 58, described the award as a “caress after years of our career.”
“They are still thinking of us,” she quipped.
“Pimpinela’s novel approach of mixing music with theatrical drama changed the face of Latin pop, generating sales of more than 30 million records,” the Latin Recording Academy said in announcing the Lifetime Achievement Award for the duo.
Born in Argentina to Spanish immigrants, the siblings released their first album, “Las primeras golondrinas,” in 1981, but their breakthrough came three years later with “Olvidame y pega la vuelta.”
Though the song was on the self-titled album they cut in 1982, it was only in 1984 that “Olvidame y pega la vuelta” achieved hit status in Latin America, leading to the television appearance that catapulted them to fame throughout Spain, not just in La Bustariega, the village in the mountains of northern Spain’s Asturias region from where their dad left for Argentina in the 1950s.
Being the children of immigrants endowed the brother and sister with the “DNA of adventurers,” Joaquin says, giving them the confidence to stick with their distinctive style even when a Spanish record producer told that the “era of romantic songs” was over.
And much of the credit for the success of Joaquin and Lucia belongs to their mother, Maria Engracia, who cajoled Joaquin into abandoning his rock band in favor of working with Lucia, then preparing for a career in theater.
“One day, Lucia showed up ... did a song,” Joaquin recalls. “She began to sing and to act, as a way to make it theatrical, and there we realized that we had ... (a style) different from everything heard in the ‘80s.”
Looking back, they identify their 1984 debut at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and the incorporation of “Olvidame” into popular culture as other milestones.
“Certainly it was the song that demonstrated what we wanted to do,” Lucia says. “This mix of theatre – which was and is my vocation always – with music.”
While the Galan siblings’ rise was meteoric by the standards of the 1980s, it can’t be compared to the virtually overnight success of an artist such as their Argentine compatriot Paulo Londra, who became famous via the Internet and can now boast of 17 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
“You didn’t sing in one place and people everywhere saw you. We had to go city-to-city, town-to-town, but it was something notable and magical,” Lucia says of Pimpinela’s beginnings.
Pimpinela are in the studio now cutting some new tracks to be released toward the end of the year.
“The changes in women have been significant in these last few years. All that has to be reflected in our music because we are dedicated to singing the man-woman relationship,” Joaquin says.