Manitas de Plata
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Manitas de Plata Biography
Manitas de Plata (Ricardo Baliardo) was born in a gypsy caravan in Sete in southern France.
Encouraged by an uncle, Ricardo mastered the guitar at the age of nine without being able to read a note of music. He became known as Manitas de Plata (little silver hands) at the annual Maytime pilgrimages to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where his exuberant lightning-fast guitar playing, partly inspired by the Gipsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, made him stand out from more traditional virtuosi.
Discovered somewhat late in life in 1961 by the Gipsy artist Lucien Clergue, he began recording albums.
In Britain, de Plata became a familiar figure on BBC television in the late 1960s, appearing on shows hosted by Julie Felix and Val Doonican. He gave 11 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and in 1968 performed in the presence of the Queen at the London Palladium.
At one time he was considered Europe's best-known artist and, with sales of more than 90 million albums, he remains France's biggest-selling artist.