Where does the lambada come from?

25 years of "Lambada" : The stolen summer hit

He still has the melody in his ear. Gonzalo Hermosa, a handsome man in a Bolivian poncho, leans his head back and turns it, smiling happily, in a figure eight to the rhythm. "It was the beginning of the 80s, we were producing an album and we were just missing one song," he says. On the tenth day of recording, when almost everything was finished, his younger brother Ulises was sitting in the studio, tuning his guitar, humming something to himself, then shouting: "Listen to this!" Gonzalo Hermosa, the head of the band and his musicians only had to hear a few chords. "We knew immediately that it could be a hit."

And what a. That day, the Hermosa brothers recorded a song in the Bolivian studio that is still played around the world today: Lambada. 25 years ago the piece conquered the European hit lists, in September the summer hit reached the top of the charts in Germany and stayed there for ten weeks. The sound carrier has sold around six million times worldwide. The song was number one in Austria for ten weeks and Switzerland for 14 weeks.

The French group Kaoma earned the fame

The Hermosa brothers and their band Los Kjarkas have never earned the fame, but the French group Kaoma. The summer hit Lambada became one of the biggest plagiarism cases in music history. “They just stole the song from us,” says Gonzalo Hermosa. He is sitting in his recording studio in the north of Cochabamba, a 700,000-inhabitant city with thin mountain air in the center of Bolivia. Back then, he and his late brother Ulises couldn't believe it. Today Gonzalo Hermosa is 63. Age has made him calmer and more patient, he says. That also changes the way you view things. “The melody was played all over the world. That's incredible, isn't it? ”Says Gonzalo Hermosa, looking proud and sad at the same time.

When the first dancers performed Lambada in Europe, the Los Kjarkas were on tour in Bolivia. They heard about the theft through a phone call. "It was said that you had reissued 'Llorando se fue', with changed text and a different name as the author." Was that the possibility? Nobody had asked Gonzalo Hermosa or his brother if the melody could be used. “We never had any legal protection for the piece. There was no such system here. ”In Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, everyone knew that“ Llorando se fue ”, which translates as“ she went away crying ”, was the work of the Kjarkas.

The European producers of Kaoma, the Greek Jean Georgakarakos and the French Olivier Lorsac, knew this well. In the 80s the western music industry experienced a strong boom, the still young private broadcaster MTV helped rock and pop stars to undreamt-of fame, sound carriers were still selling like sliced ​​bread and the business developed into a global mega-business. The two businessmen traveled to South America in search of new hits.

They were looking for a hot rhythm in South America

A hot rhythm was supposed to be created that was not yet known on the old continent, catchy, perfect for the radio stations. In Brazil, producers came across young people dancing something they called lambada. During the dance, the man and woman moved their hips tightly, lively and lasciviously. A haunting melody from panpipes, which the two producers in Bolivia had picked up, seemed to go well with this. From the original “Llorando se fue”, which had been a great success in Bolivia eight years earlier, Georgakarakos and Lorsac mixed a more poppy, faster version and marketed it as the song for the latest dance discovery under palm trees.

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