In 1989 they sold three million albums. The Gypsy Kings were destined to receive 15 gold discs. “My brother Chahib was working in a retirement home in Arles at the time. That’s what gave me the idea of giving our first gold disc to Jeanne Calment [the doyenne of humanity who died last year aged 122] who was living there. We played for the old people. They were happy”. A Victory award was to crown the group’s achievements.
It had taken 10 yeas of hard struggle for Chico before success finally shone on the Gypsy Kings. In December 1987 and January 1988 they triumphed at the Cigale and then at the Zenith. They finally left the private homes of showbiz stars and kings to join the international stage. They sold out on three tours of the United States, a first for a “French” group. The same thing happened in Mexico, Japan, Britain, Australia and elsewhere.
Chico is the composer and writer of the group, it was his energy and believe in the group that lead them to the Top 10 groups of the world.
Chico is an optimist and life has been good to him. He has known very hard times but then events have allowed him to bounce back. 1991 was a very trying year for him. He lost his baby, the Gypsy Kings, and his father Mohammed Bouchikhi. He survived the blows of fate and started back up the hill as he had done so often before. He setup a new group, Chico and the Gypsies, with young gypsy musicians from Arles and Montpellier.
As Producer, artistic director and musician, he is re-creating the international hits of the early years but is not resting on his laurels. For he is also writing new pieces, still with a gypsy flavor but more influenced by the wide variety of Romany music than before. Whereas he was the originator of the Middle Eastern sounds in the Gypsy King hits, he now embraces his Oriental side. After Vagobundo, which reached a record 200,000 albums on top of singles sales, he has just recorded Nomad, a title taken from the exiled Algerian singer Dahman el-Harachi. As holder of the title of the protector of gypsy culture, Chico has set up the El Patio center for all the world’s gypsy travelers to meet. It is a festival ground that includes a bodega, a grange, arenas, a walkway, carvans and a view over the Rohne.