Portland Press Herald, May 6, 1993
You have to wonder how many women Julio Iglesias – the archetypical Latin lover, crooner and international sex symbol – calls in a day.
“I call my wife because she’s pregnant,” he says during a telephone interview between tours at his Miami house. “Then my girlfriend, because she’s pregnant, too. Then five women call me saying they are pregnant. They sue. I don’t make love for three years now, but everyone thinks I’m father of their kids. But I’m singing all the time. You better believe me.”
Maybe about the singing.
Iglesias has sold more records internationally than anyone. Period. He’s also a master of bull, and can flirt, sing and make fun of himself in six languages.
Maybe it’s all that translating between languages, but it’s hard to get a straight answer out of Iglesias. Like the question about his love life scooping more headlines lately than his music. This past year, for example, a Spanish woman claimed Iglesias is the father of her 17-year-old son. Iglesias denies it.
“I like to be on the front page, but maybe … it bothers me,” he replies in broken English. “I make love five times a year now. And I’m doing an English album that looks like Chinese to me. Not easy for me.”
Wait a minute, Julio. First you don’t make love in three years. Now you say you make love five times a year. Which is it?
“I make love 22nd of May,” laughs Iglesias. “I have to choose the person. They have to choose me. Why the 22nd? Two and two means two times. I don’t think my body does more … Do you like red wine?”
The English album, due out later this month, will include a duet with Dolly Parton.
“I get to sing with Dolly. We choose songs, get together in two weeks. That would be sexy. I like that,” says Iglesias. “She’s a very talented person.”
Iglesias’ 1984 duet with Willie Nelson, “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” won him the first of his two Grammy Awards (he won for best Latin singer in 1988), and put him in the American spotlight.
His other albums – there have been 67 – have sold 175 million copies worldwide, putting him in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Not bad for a 49-year-old former soccer player from Madrid.
Iglesias got his start in music in 1963 while recovering from a car accident that ended his soccer career and left him temporarily paralyzed. He credits a nurse – who else? – with giving him a guitar and encouraging him to sing.
He developed his music while studying English at Cambridge University, and in 1968 he released his first single “La Vida Sigue Igual (Life Goes on the Same).” It shot to the top of Spain’s music charts and made him a star.
Since then, he has traveled the world, performing a mix of Latin pop and American standards, including renditions of Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and the tender Nat King Cole ballad, “Mona Lisa.”
Some critics have complained that Iglesias’ mumbled phrasing and arrangements are overly processed, but his current U.S. tour is drawing praise. One Miami critic described a recent concert as “elegant crooning.
“He usually sings with eyes closed … and he stands in one place for most of the performance, but there’s plenty of writhing when he slides his hands across his torso and glides the microphone down his side.”
He has built his career on that sensual, caressing style. He says it’s more than a sexy stage gimmick, that it’s a way of building real intimacy with audiences.
“The concert is when you have communication with people you can make love with, when people communicate with you in a deep way,” says Iglesias. “I don’t talk about anything else but soul and brains. I love that concept, when the brains and the heart get together. That is very Latino.”
It’s also irresistible, apparently. Women around the world have showered him with flowers, phone numbers, even racy Polaroids. Take that, Tom Jones.
Iglesias may be glib about his studly persona, yet he is reluctant to discuss his extensive humanitarian work, much of it on behalf of children. He is a representative for UNICEF and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for it and other humanitarian organizations through benefit concerts.
“It’s difficult to say about the kids, after talking about the light things,” says Iglesias. “I’m helping as much as I can. It’s the only way I can save my life … because I am closer to hell than heaven.”