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FAQ’s

Find out everything you’d like to know about Jose now and then here. Jose answered all our questions on his life, influences, background and his music. Scroll down the page to see all the questions and Jose’s answers.

1. Where were you born?
I was born in the mountains of Puerto Rico, in a little town called, “Lares”.
2. When were you born?
On September 10, 1945
3. Were you born blind?
Yes.
4. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I was one of 11 boys.
5. Are your parents still alive and where do they now live?
My father passed away in 1971 and my mother passed away in October of 2000, in Puerto Rico.
6. Where do you live now?
We live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, in a historic, former tavern that was built in 1730. We’re on a river. I have my little studio on the property. It’s pretty cool.
7. Do you ever get back to Puerto Rico?
Oh, yes, very frequently. As often as I can, as a matter of fact, to see members of my family.
8. Would you ever consider living there again?
I really would love to one day, especially during our New England winters.
9. Where did you live in New York?
I lived in Spanish Harlem on 103rd ST.
10. When did you move to New York?
In 1950, when I was 5 years old.
11. When did you leave New York?
In 1966.
12. Where did you live in California?
I lived in Southern Cal.; in Newport Beach and also in Villa Park, which is about five miles from Disneyland.
13. When did you leave California? Why?
I moved from California in 1990, after our first child was born. We wanted her to grow up away from the craziness of the business. However I think it’s followed us here, too. My wife is afraid of earthquakes, too, and we’d been in a number of them.
14. Do you like living in Connecticut?
Yes, it’s incredibly beautiful during spring, summer and fall. Winter you can keep. I do love the holidays and the fireplace and the snow and all, but after January 1st, I want the sun again!
15. Who were your greatest musical influences growing up?
People like Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. Elvis. Segovia, Joao Gilberto and Django Rheinhart.
16. What kind of music did you listen to as a youngster?
I listened to everything I could get my hands on. Jazz, Rock and Roll, the blues, classical, the old standards in English and Spanish…
17. What kind of music do you listen to today?
Everything.
18. Was the guitar your first instrument?
No. When I was three, I tapped on the bottom of a tin cracker can, accompanying my Uncle who played the cuatro.
19. What is a “cuatro”?
It is the traditional instrument of Puerto Rico. It has ten strings and kind of sounds like a mandolin.
20. Has the cuatro ever been featured in any of your music?
Yes. In “Feliz Navidad”, “Ponte A Cantar” “Che Sara” ,”La Ultima Noche” from the “Señor Bolero” CD and others.
21. When did you start to play the guitar?
When I was 9 years old.
22. What other instruments do you play?
I play the bass, drums, all kinds of percussion, a little keyboards and synthesizers.
23. Do you write your own music?
Yes, of course. I’ve written many, many songs, like “Feliz Navidad”, “Rain”, “Affirmation”, “Señor Bolero”. I’ve written an entire film score, and songs used in films. I’ve written the music for a theatrical play and a couple of television themes. I’ve also composed classical pieces including one I call “Mozartean Influence” as well as one dedicated to Andre Segovia.
24. What are your favorite songs by other artists?
Well, I’ve always liked the Beatles’ stuff, all of it; the music of Bob Dylan as well as Elvis, and of course Sinatra’s music. I love Jose Jose and Placido Domingo. I also like a lot of today’s music, especially Alicia Keyes, Maroon 5, Bonnie Raitt, Juan Luis Guerra, Juanes, Shakira and so many more.
25. What are your favorite songs of your own?
Oh my. I can’t answer that question.
26. Are you still as busy as when you first started your career?
Oh my goodness, yes. In the last year, I’ve been from Asia to Australia, Europe, South America, India and all throughout the US. I’m working in the studio, have released music in two languages. I am also working on some very interesting business projects that are as yet, to be announced, but, yes, I have many plans and exciting work on my plate today.
27. Does being blind make you a better musician?
No. Perhaps only more focused and determined to do something with my life that mattered.
28. What in your life, do you feel, is responsible for your success?
GOD’s Grace and my own perseverance, I believe.
29. Do you pray?
All the time.
30. Are you afraid of anything in particular?
Diving boards.
31. What makes you happy?
Waking up in the morning and being grateful for everything God’s given me.
32. What makes you sad?
People who don’t.
33. What would you like to change in your life?
I’d like to have more hours in the day.
34. When did you receive your Grammy Awards?
I won my first two Grammy Awards in 1968, others in the 80’s and most recently 2 more Grammy Awards plus their Lifetime Achievement Award.
35. What other awards are you most proud?
All of them, of course. But aside the Grammy Awards, I’m really proud of my Star on Hollywood Blvd’s Walk of Fame. That’s amazing to me.
36. What was it like to have a school named after you?
It was such a thrill at the time, but now that I, too, have children, I realize even more how great an honor it is–I’m very happy.
37. Why did you record Señor Bolero?
I wanted to return, musically, to my Spanish roots. I had begun my career in South America with a number of albums of boleros, strictly. I had learned them as a kid at home with my mom as she listened to them herself. When I was signed to RCA and had had
great success at the Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina, the record company wanted to record me down there. Not knowing which way to go, musically, and being open to my suggestion that they let me go into the studio and lay down some of the old standards that I knew, I created inroads with my jazz and American music influences. It was amazing. The reaction was tremendous; people screaming at my concerts, at the airports; I was just a kid, myself, at the time.
38. What did it feel like to be a teen idol?
Pretty scary at times, but nice, I guess, too.
39. What does it feel like to have a “hit” record?
Also a little scary, but now I’m able to deal with the responsibility. I’m more aware of what it all entails and I’m ready for it. With a great manager and supportive team, anything is possible!
40. Tell me about your early boleros.
They were the songs I learned at home while my Mom and I listened to the radio together. Songs like “Sin Fe”, “Tu Me Haces Falta”, “Como Fue”, “La Copa Rota”. They’re the songs that taught me how to sing, really.
41. Tell me about your life when you’re not working.
It seems I’m always working these days. But when I am at home, my kids keep me pretty entertained. I like to go to the gym, when I can, and I’m also writing a lot in my studio. Susan and I try to catch up on things, but it’s pretty hectic.
42. Do you have any hobbies?
I wish I had the time. I’ve always liked baseball. I enjoy the game a lot.
43. Tell me about your first break into show business.
I really had several but I consider my time at Gerde’s Folk City was pretty important to me. Then an A&R man from RCA, a fellow by the name of Jack Somer, had come in to see an act playing in the Village. He heard me, and decided to sign me, instead. That was pretty amazing.
44. Tell me about your family.
I have three children: Melissa Anne, who is a young lady already, She’s 27, Jonathan Jose is 24 and Michael Julian, Mikey is 20.
45. Are any of your children musical?
Melissa had been a ballerina from the time she was three but now is very interested in history and its preservation. She Manages the Museum Services for the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, a magnificent home which was the pro-type for the Newport RI mansions of the Gilded Age. I’m very proud of her.  Jonnie and Michael, on the other hand, are the serious musicians. Jonnie is an amazing drummer, and has been playing since he was 2 1/2. Now he works for Apple but we still hear him playing his drums (all the time!) in the Carriage House. Michael is a bass player, and really a darn good one. He’s in a band called, “Forgetting Fame” and is beginning to travel with them.  Plus, he’s an amazing chef; he’s loved to cook since he was very young, so I know his band will never be hungry!  We used to have a little trio that I called “Two Kids and a Blind Guy.” They accompanied me on stage in Korea, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo in New York, on TV a couple of times, at DisneyWorld and in our local saloon, but now they’re taller than me and not so much “kids” anymore, but we will always hang out and jam together…
46. Were any of your brothers musical?
No, not really.
47. How do you come up with ideas for songs?
Often times, they come to me in dreams.
48. Describe your creative process.
We often go into the studio not having a clue what we’re going to come up with and almost always, I just start, maybe, laying down a guitar or even a bass track or sometimes a drum rhythm. From there it starts to build into something that usually sounds like a song!
49. What kind of studio do you have?
It’s a digital, multi-track outfit with computers and all of my instruments. It’s a wonderful place to disappear to, turn off the phone and I disappear.
50. How would you like to be remembered?
As a good guy.
Jose through the Years