Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia plays the guitar during the 49th International Festival of Carthage at the Roman Theatre of Carthage in Tunis August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters
World-renowned guitarist Paco de Lucia, who dazzled audiences with his lightning-speed flamenco rhythms and finger work, has died in Mexico, Spanish officials said Wednesday. He was 66.
A spokeswoman for the town hall of de Lucia's native Spanish town of Algeciras said de Lucia family members had told them the artist died of a heart attack. She said he began to feel unwell while on a beach in Cancun with his child and died while being taken to a local hospital.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as town hall regulations do not allow her to be identified publicly
Describing the death as unexpected and premature, Education and Culture Minister Jose Ignacio Wert said he was "a unique and unrepeatable figure."
Born Dec. 21, 1947, de Lucia — whose real name was Francisco Sanchez Gomez — was best-known for flamenco but also experimented with other genres of music. One of his most famous recordings was Friday Night in San Francisco, recorded with fellow guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola in 1981.
During the 1960s and 1970s, he formed an extremely popular duo with late flamenco singer legend Camaron de la Isla.
His 1973 rumba Entre Dos Aguas (Between Two Waters) became one of the most popular recordings in Spain.
De Lucia was awarded the Culture Ministry's Fine Arts Gold Medal in 1992 and the prestigious Prince of Asturias prize for the Arts in 2004.