Sabicas began playing guitar at the age of four and made his performing debut two years later. His early style was influenced by Ramón Montoya, to whom he was related on his mother's side of the family. Extensive collaboration with important cantaores (male flamenco singers) of the period helped him develop his personal style.
Spain in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, he
went into exile in South America with bailaora
(dancer) Carmen Amaya. He lived in , married Esperanza González Erazo and had four
children: Maricruz 1944, Carlos 1946, Agustine 1952 and Margaret 1956. Agustine
and Margaret live in Mexico
City New York City, Maricruz
lives in ,
and Carlos is deceased. Carmen and Sabicas toured together several times.
Sabicas later settled in Alaska New York City in the .
He did not return to his native United States
until 1967. Spain
Sabicas was instrumental in the introduction of flamenco to audiences outside of
Spanish-speaking world. He was probably best known for his technical skills:
blazingly fast picados (scales), fast arpeggios, quality composition for the
many forms of flamenco, and infallible rhythm, which was critical if playing
with a dancer. Also, he was considered to have perfect pitch. "The finest
technique around has got to be Sabicas, the flamenco player," Chet Atkins
told Guitar Player Magazine in March 1972. Spain
Sabicas was one of flamenco's greatest-ever guitarists, not only in terms of technique, but with major creative contributions, playing flamenco previously unimaginable and giving new tools and possibilities to the solo instrument. He brought this art to concert halls and major theaters where all classes could enjoy.
Modern players such as Paco de Lucía, Tomatito, Serranito, Juan Manuel Cañizares, El Viejín, Vicente Amigo, Gerardo Nuñez, Javier Conde and many more claim large influence from Sabicas' music.
Sabicas died at a hospital in
of complications from
pneumonia and multiple strokes on 14 April 1990. Manhattan,