JOSE FELICIANO: Still Lighting The Fire

Cover Nov 19, 2010


(Courtesy of Margaret Maye and Bravo International)

EMAIL  and answer the question:

What charity is Jose Feliciano supporting at the concert on November 27th?


By Don Graham


Often credited with opening la puerta for Latin American singers in North America, Jose Feliciano is still filling rooms with people and great music, four decades later. Jose literally burst onto the scene with his soulful, latinesque version of The Doors mega hit ‘Light  My Fire’. This song got the attention of radio, finally settling at number three on the U.S. pop charts.


When I spoke to Jose from his home in sunny Florida he gave this insight into the recording of  ‘Light My Fire’, “I had been performing the song in coffee houses and when it came time to record my producer Rick Jarrard said I should record ‘Light My Fire’.  I scoffed at the idea saying it’s already a hit by The Doors so what’s the point. Rick said Jose please oblige me, which I did and the rest is history. The song was actually the B side of the single ‘California Dreaming’. Then one day a disc jockey in Seattle flipped it over and ‘Light My Fire’ took off.  “Speaking of  that  record” , Jose added,  “I just saw online that they picked the Top Ten covers of rock tunes and I was #1 with California Dreaming!”


This was followed by another big hit, a latin flavoured version of ‘Hi-Heeled Sneakers.’ Riding this wave of success, in 1969 Feliciano took home two Grammy Awards; Best New Artist of the Year and Best Pop Song of the Year.


With his popularity soaring in 1968, Jose was invited to sing The Star Spangled Banner at the old Tiger Stadium in Detroit before Game 5 of the Tigers World Series bid. This of course was at the height of the Vietnam War and his slow, bluesy , latin, jazz version of the national anthem proved controversial to say the least. The result was a huge dip in his popularity and his career stalled for a few years. Many stations refused to play Feliciano records. (As a footnote in 2006 he went on record as saying that he was proud of his rendition of the National Anthem and equally proud that he opened the door for different interpretations of the revered song to be acceptable. His World Series version was released as a single and peaked at number fifty in the top one hundred.) In the seventies, Jose Feliciano recorded and released his most well known song to date. ‘Feliz Navidad’ has become a Christmas perennial, a part of the Christmas landscape in the United States, Canada and Latin America. ASCAP has recognized the song as one of the Top 25 played Christmas songs each year.


Jose Felicano continues to tour and entertain audiences across the globe and his unique style is still bringing joy and pleasure to thousands of loyal fans. “I’m still out there touring as much as possible”, Jose said, sounding like a man who loves what he does. Feliciano also has a new CD available online called The Genius of Jose Feliciano Volume Two.

Feliciano has played Canada many times starting at coffee houses back in the day, “ In Vancouver I played The Bunk House and in Toronto I played at The Penny Farthing in Yorkville.” 


Most recently in Ottawa Feliciano performed with Margaret Maye who is putting the show in Toronto, with a 7 P.M. curtain, don’t miss the opportunity to see a living legend perform at The Queen Elizabeth Theater in support of  The 4th Annual Concert for Epilepsy. 


For more information and ticket availability please visit: