We all know Charo for her ubiquitous variety show and Love Boat appearances throughout the ’70s, but did you know the former MarÃa del Rosario Pilar MartÃnez Molina Baeza Rasten was also an accomplished flamenco guitarist? Of course you did. A young Charo learned guitar from Andres Segovia, considered an icon of modern classical guitar music. After she moved to the States and married Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat, Charo began forging her “cuchie, cuchie” persona with countless stints on The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, even the infamous Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
Throughout her years of campy shtick on TV, Charo never stopped recording, both classical-guitar works and more dance-oriented Latin-fusion disco with the Salsoul Orchestra. In fact, she scored three hits on the Hot Dance Club Play chart in the ’70s, starting with “Dance a Little Bit Closer,” which reached #18 in 1978. Later that year “Ole Ole” climbed to #36, while the second single from her Ole Ole album, “Stay With Me” (download), didn’t get quite so far. But “Stay With Me” is an excellent salsa/disco hybrid, with “let’s spend the night together”-type lyrics that were de rigueur in the disco era, and a more restrained vocal than you’d expect from the hyperactive Spaniard. While the track didn’t do much here, it was a big hit overseas, helping Ole Ole sell more than half a million copies worldwide.
At the spry age of 57 (or 67, depending on what you read/believe), Charo has returned to the dance charts after nearly 30 years — her new flamenco-guitar instrumental “EspaÃ±a CaÃ±i” is currently #23 on Billboard‘s Hot Dance Club Play chart. Here’s a fan video of the new track, which is pretty darn good (the Julian Marsh Progressive Radio Mix is my favorite):
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“Stay With Me” peaked at #55 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1979.
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