Julio Iglesias: ‘I was a flirting man, a rock’n’roll guy’
The Spanish crooner is about to play Ireland for the first time in 30 years. He didn’t sleep with 3,000 women but he swims naked (maybe)
Julio Iglesias on stage in South Africa. Photograph: Michelly Rall/Wireimage
Iglesias with his wife, Miranda, and their fifth son, Guillermo
Iglesias showing off his ball skills in 1974
‘Tell me, Patrick, what you want to know about me,” says Julio Iglesias, singer, millionaire, international superstar, father of an international superstar, entertainer to peasants and kings, lover of many, many beautiful women. He laughs throatily (“Kha! Kha! Kha!”) and I imagine him tossing his still-impressive-for-a-70-year-old mane of hair.
“How can I be you, Julio?” I want to ask, but I don’t. I ask instead what it’s like to be touring in his 70s. He laughs his throaty laugh. “Kha! Kha! Kha! You think, ‘My God, he’s 70 years old and still is kicking? Why is he still kicking?’ Because If I don’t kick, I’ll die!”
Julio Iglesias is not a disappointing interviewee. He hyperbolises, he is emotionally descriptive, he refers to me as “my friend” and he is well aware of the caricature version of himself and plays up to it.
“I am 70 years old but when I go on stage I am 25,” he says. “My blood runs in my body so strong that my brains get together with my heart and my body. It’s something very special. The reason why I’m singing still today is nothing else but the passion. It’s not a question of money. I have plenty of money in my desk [I picture a desk filled with money]. It’s a question of passion. I would not be alive if I didn’t sing. Physically maybe I’d be alive, sure, but I would not be what I am now.”
All that passion was originally directed towards professional football. “I was not a superstar,” he says, “but I played on a super team, Real Madrid. Then I almost killed myself in an accident. I was quite paralysed for one year and a half and I played guitar because they give me a guitar as therapy to get my fingers moving, and I started to develop some knowledge of harmonies and put together some lyrics. I believe that millions of people around the world have deep inside the ability to discover another project in life. That’s what happened to me. Otherwise I would not be talking to you right now.”
Iglesias quickly became internationally successful. To this day he records his songs in French, Portuguese, Spanish, English, even Chinese, and he plays all over the world. He had a good time in those early days. “I had the best time in my life, because I was young,” he says. “My spirit would flow, my soul was alert, my brains were still not built, so my instinct was superior to my thoughts. Whenever the eyes of another person come to my eyes I fixed my eyes on that person. I was a flirting man. You know what I mean? I was in that time a rock’n’roll guy.”
So he had a bit of a reputation? “That’s a little more fantasy than reality,” he says. “That I love women? I can tell you that that’s true. That I learn from women? That is true. That I respect women like crazy? Yes. If I did not respect women, I would not have eight kids.” He pauses. “If someone says I made love to more than 3,000 women [as was claimed in the 1970s] that’s okay, I’m not going to go door-to-door to tell people it’s not true. But it’s not true.”