MADRID (AP) — Spain has begun its formal mourning for world-renowned flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia.
His body arrived in Madrid for a memorial ceremony on Friday before a wake and burial in his native town of Algeciras in the south of the country. De Lucia's remains were flown from Mexico where the musician died of a heart attack while on vacation. He was 66.
Hundreds of people — including Prince Felipe, heir to the Spanish throne — paid their respects by filing past the casket at Madrid's National Auditorium music center Friday afternoon, and gave their condolences to De Lucia's family.
The guitarist's body will later be taken to Algeciras for a public wake overnight and a private, family burial Saturday. De Lucia died early Wednesday after feeling unwell in Cancun on Mexico's east coast, where the musician had a beach-side holiday home.
One of the world's greatest guitarists, De Lucia is credited with modernizing flamenco by introducing influences from other musical forms such as jazz, bossa nova, classical and salsa. The duo he formed with singer Camaron de la Isla, who died in 1992, was one of the most celebrated musical unions in the history of flamenco.
"Without Camaron and Paco, flamenco would have been finished," said Luis Rodriguez , 51, who visited the auditorium with his two sons. De Lucia was also an exceptional jazz guitarist and composer. His virtuoso playing style and an ability to improvise were showcased in renowned jazz guitar trios with musicians such as Larry Coryell, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola.
"Paco de Lucia was the greatest of guitar players," Rodriguez said. "Nobody will surpass him, he was gifted."
Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this story.