Our message today could be filed under 'Throw-Back Thursday' since Jose's relationship with the British Isles has been an enduring element in his career. It couldn't however, be totally accurate because today also marks the 96th birthday of Great Britain's Queen and Monarch, Elizabeth II.
Jose recalls: I can confidently say, most of us have only known Elizabeth as the Queen of England. All my life, following our migration to New York and while attending school, she was the one we learned about; the woman who lived in England and the leader of the Commonwealth. Granted, that's a lot for a little kid from the tropics to absorb, but I soon came to know and admire her as an incredible and indelible part of British culture.
Early on, as I grew and my music gave me the opportunity to travel, I found myself in England, barely 20 years old, absorbing the lifestyle and culture that was so charming and magnetic for me. We even rented a flat in London for a period of time where I played (hoping to meet the Beatles and the Queen), planted some roots, and hoped to 'have a go' at making it there, in the English market.
I recorded some music in London. One record called, Adios Amor, was a minor hit in both England and in France and then it became big in Australia and massive in New Zealand. It was so cool: my first English language record on the radio! Later, as my success found me back in the States with Light My Fire and California Dreamin' (and then where it was practically destroyed with my controversial interpretation of the Star-Spangled Banner) I learned we'd be returning to England (where I'd still hoped to meet the Queen and naturally, the Beatles) to record an album for RCA.
With a bit of history in making records in London and as recently as just before the pandemic, I recorded yet another album, called 'As You See Me Now' with Jools Holland and traveled throughout Great Britain with him and his Orchestra for three full months.
It was especially nice to have my son, Jonnie, with me so that together, we lived the British lifestyle (still hoping to meet the Queen and catch-up with at least one of the Beatles) while feeling once more, quite at home...
In that first album back in1969 called, 'alive alive-o!' you can hear me from behind the curtain softly playing God Save the Queen, hoping somehow she'd learn of it and know of my respect and admiration for her. But, as with the National Anthem just months before, my intentions of demonstrating my sincere affection was misconstrued and the audience began to laugh.
They must have found it humorous to think that a Puerto Rican kid from the States would be paying homage to their English Monarch, but at least they didn't throw their shoes at me, as did some veterans after I sang the American anthem.
So even though that didn't go quite as I'd intended (and nor did I meet the Beatles until way later), I did--and do--continue to think of Queen Elizabeth as my Queen, too.
In fact, I feel all of us can look to her as a beacon of steadfast honor and goodness and I, for one, wish her a happy birthday and many happy returns of the day!
May God bless the Queen!
p.s. the album cover for As You See Me Now with Jools Holland was photographed by none other than Mary McCartney, Paul's daughter!!! Life is grand and I love it!