Spanish singer Alicia Granados hit the big time in 1966 after winning the Benidorm song festival at the age of just 12. However, despite their quality, her follow ups failed and her career lost momentum. She would have to wait until the 1970s when, after teaming up with vocal group Nubes Grises, she found more lasting success.
Alicia Granados was born Amparo Granados Navarrete on 29 May 1954 in Manresa, in Catalonia, Spain.
She came from a musical family – the nationalist composer Enrique Granados was a distant relation – and her parents enrolled her in a conservatory at the age of six.
This led to appearances in various local radio contests, and in 1964, aged ten, she landed her first recording contract. Signed to EMI’s Regal subsidiary, the young singer took the stage name Alicia for her debut release, an EP called El jilguero del Monte. Her youthful charm passed record buyers by at the time but now delights fans of the genre. Batiendo palmas and Alicia es así, in particular, have enjoyed a lasting popularity.
The record’s lack of success saw Alicia part ways with Regal, but in 1966 she signed a new record deal, this time with Belter. Label bosses were debating how to launch the singer when they were asked to provide a singer for a song penned by Jorge Domingo, Nocturno. The track had been entered into the Benidorm song festival, where – as at Italy’s San Remo contest – it was to be performed by two artists. Given that the tune was very much in the style of Italian teen star Gigliola Cinquetti’s Eurovision-winning Non ho l’età, Belter bosses thought immediately of Alicia, or Alicia Granados, as she was now known. (Columbia, meanwhile, opted for established male singer Santy.)
Alicia’s performance captivated judges at the contest and the song romped to victory. Issued as a single, her version of the song soon sailed to the top of the charts, beating Santy’s by a long chalk.
Sales were also helped by a very strong B-side, Profesor. “Teacher, you don’t know it, but you’ve made such an impression on me that you’ve made my heart suffer from tachycardia,” Alicia sang. The song proved just as popular as the A-side and Belter swiftly issued an EP with it as the lead track. New material comprised the equally upbeat Juguete extraordinario and the yé-yé gem Rubia, rubia.
The move suited Alicia, who hadn’t cared for Nocturno and liked the comparisons with Gigliola Cinquetti even less. This may have proved her downfall, however. Italian-style ballads were hugely popular in Spain at the time and, arguably, Alicia could have built a successful career catering to this demand.
Instead, for her follow up, she issued the Mi perrito pequinés EP. With three upbeat songs and one slowie, Buenas noches Mamá, the release was of a high standard, despite – or perhaps because of – some background, erm, vocals from her Pekinese puppy. The earlier popularity of Professor led to the inclusion of another classroom-themed number, the terrific ABC ye yé, in which the alphabet provides the structure for the song. The track proved the highlight of the release but, surprisingly, sales proved sluggish.
Disappointed, Belter decided to relaunch the singer by entering her for another song festival, this time in the town of Fortuna in Murcia. No soy un guarismo was a catchy number that was lyrically clever. “I’m not a figure that can be added, I’m not a number that can be subtracted,” she sang. “I’m a human being who is beginning to dream...”
However, the song failed to win the contest or to sell in any great quantity. Its failure signalled the end of Alicia’s solo career.
She turned to film, appearing in Jésus Pasqual’s light-hearted adventure La banda del pecas, in 1968, under the name Amparito Granados.
After a break of two years, she decided to return to music, and in 1970, she joined forces with vocal group Nubes Grises. The intervening years had seen her voice mature, which suited the group’s adult repertoire. Back at her old Regal label, and with credits reading Alicia y Nubes Grises, songs such as Hombre y mujer and Aurora proved big hits.
However, in 1973, Alicia hung up her microphone. The remaining group members, Antonio Bernal and Jaime Marín, roped in other female singers to replace her and continued to record for several years.
Our pick of the pops
ABC ye yé
No soy un guarismo
Mi perrito pequinés
¡Chicas! Spanish female singers 1962-1974
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Hombre y mujer
Find Alicia Granados EPs and 45s at GEMM