Diego del Gastor
Diego played a very personal style of flamenco guitar. He referred to it as "toca gitano" (to play gypsy). It's a style partially inherited from guitarists like Pepe Naranjo, Ramon Montoya, Pepe Mesa, and Niño Ricardo and to which he added his own stamp ('propio sello'). It is characterized by strong rhythm, strong accents, understatement, savouring notes, an emphasis on expression rather than technical speed, and devotion to accompaniment of the cante.

Diego was born on Sunday, March 15, 1908 in Arriate and baptized the next day in Ronda. He was one of nine children; several others had died in childbirth. His father was Juan Amaya Cortés; his mother was Barbara Flores y Flores. His paternal grandparents were Francisco Amaya Amaya and Maria Cortés Jimenez; his maternal grandparents were Agustín Flores Nuñez and Catalina Flores Amaya. Diego's father, a shrewd business man and horse trader, accumulated great wealth during his lifetime. They lived in the village of El Gastor during Diego's early years and when he was six moved to Morón de la Frontera. More information can be found in Donn Pohren's, A Way of Life and The Art of Flamenco,
and David George's book, The Flamenco Guitar, which features a lengthy interview with Diego.

Diego began playing guitar when he was 15, often practicing over 10 hours a day. Diego used to tell a story of when he was a boy he and his friend, Enrique Mendez, sneaked into a local whorehouse to hear Manuel Torre who was singing in fiesta. They lasted only a few minutes before being thrown out.

In 1941 when Diego was 33 his father died. In the following years the family fortune was squandered by his older brothers, Pepe and Agustín, and the family slipped into poverty. There were times after the Civil War that Diego was known to be supporting up to 20 families with his guitar playing. He was briefly imprisoned during the Civil War, but someone of influence was able to get him out of jail.

The Morón gitanos were affectionate, humourous, but never sentimental. They would rather express themselves than talk about themselves. They were theatrical and natural actors in the way they talked and performed Flamenco. Diego himself was a brilliant mime. They lived in the present. Diego could have played the greatest bulerias of his life one night, but if you see him in the street the next day he would not want to talk about it. Yesterday was yesterday.

Diego had few personal possessions. His wealth was his personality and his music. When he died suddenly of a stroke on July 7, 1973 he had only a few changes of clothing, a guitar, a two-volume encyclopedia set, and a book of hand shadows. During his last year he lived in the local pension, Fonda Pascual. The proprietor was too ashamed to charge him rent.

Personal Reminiscences


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