Romantic balladeer, Enrique Iglesias, prayed as a child to become a popular singer, but his superstar father never knew about the young boy's ambition. When Iglesias was old enough to make an audition tape, he mailed the samples to prospective record companies under an assumed name, fearful of prejudice in light of his father's prominence in the recording industry. Talent and desire won out for Enrique Iglesias, and he signed a recording contract exclusively on his own merits, secure in the knowledge that he succeeded on talent and charisma, and without the use of his well-connected surname. Iglesias's famous paternity became evident on the occasion of his first recorded release in 1995 under his true name of Iglesias. Regardless, the popular singer and song writer settled into his career, confident at his ability to establish name recognition as Enrique (not Julio) Iglesias, through his personal musical style and appeal.
Enrique Iglesias was born Enrique Iglesias Preysler in Madrid, Spain, on May 8, 1975. He was the youngest of six siblings, three boys and three girls. His parents, Isabel Preysler and Julio Iglesias, divorced in 1979. Enrique Iglesias continued to live in Madrid with his mother, a Philippine-born journalist, until the early 1980s when Preysler received kidnap threats against her children. Reluctantly she sent the youngsters to the United States to live in Miami, Florida, with their superstar father. In Florida, Enrique Iglesias became enamored with water sports, especially wind-surfing; he also loved to water ski and scuba dive. By the time he was in his early teens he made regular summer trips to Hawaii where he lived a humble existence in a shack and spent his days windsurfing. Although the circumstances of his childhood kept him physically apart from his parents, the family nonetheless stayed in touch as much as was reasonably possible. His mother remained in Spain, while his father, an international singing idol, was seldom at home. In Miami the children were raised almost exclusively by a nursemaid, Elvira Olivares, who took the family under her wing and loved the children as her own. Later, when Enrique Iglesias released his first record album, he dedicated the work lovingly to Olivares.
When Iglesias was grown, according to his parents' wishes, he enrolled at the University of Miami as a business administration student, but his career goal since childhood was to become a singer. Iglesias spent his free time practicing singing with friends and, eventually, made a demo tape and sent it to recording studios. Iglesias, well aware of his father's notoriety in the music industry, sent the audition tapes under the name of Enrique Martinez, in order to insure that he would be assessed on his own merit rather than on the basis of his famous father's reputation. When executives at Fonovisa Records heard Iglesias's audition tape in 1994, they signed him to a contract to record three albums. He subsequently abandoned his studies at the university, to his father's dismay, and it was only after the deal was finalized that Julio Iglesias learned of his son's impending career as a recording artist. The younger Iglesias was nonetheless gratified in the knowledge that he secured the contract on his own initiative.
He set a bustling pace during the ensuing years and released six albums in less than five years, each of which sold in phenomenal numbers. A songwriter as well as a crooner, Iglesias wrote many of the songs that he recorded. Fonovisa released Iglesias's debut album of romantic ballads in October of 1995. The Spanish-language album, entitled Enrique Iglesias, was a number one best seller in the Latin music arena and sold nearly three million copies within a matter of weeks. By the end of 1997 worldwide sales figures for the album were reported at six million copies, including sales of nearly one-and-one-half million copies in the United States alone.
The debut album featured a hit single, "Si Tu Te Vas (If You Leave)," that zoomed into a top-ten position on the record charts. Although Iglesias preferred to distance himself from the legacy of his father, it was an unavoidable issue for critics to compare the two; and comparisons resounded more freely because a song by the elder Iglesias was on the record charts simultaneously with that of the younger. Julio Iglesias's song was far less popular, however, and held a slot at number 17 while "Si Tu Te Vas" held the number six position. In the light of critical comparison, Enrique Iglesias asserted that but for the surname and familial relationship, his own singing bore no resemblance to that of his father. Nevertheless, an undeniable reality surfacedhat both singers possessed extraordinary romantic appeal for female audiences. Belinda Luscombe of Time commented further that the father-and-son pair shared a "certain musk-scented vocal quality," while the younger Iglesias struggled to assert himself as an individual. Peter Castro quoted him in People, "I'm very proud of my father, but when you read Billboard now, you see Enrique Iglesias."
Enrique Iglesias's second album, Vivir, was released in the fall of 1997 and sold four million copies by the end of that year, including 1.1 million in the United States. Also in 1997 Iglesias toured the Americas and Spain. His third album (and third Spanish-language release), Cosas Del Amor, appeared in music stores on September 22, 1998. Despite his hesitation to record in English, Iglesias's popularity suffered no handicap due to language barrier. He received extensive media coverage in the United States as well as in other non-Spanish-speaking countries. While the largest base of his popularity remained in Mexico and Argentina, he secured guest spots on both the "Late Show with David Letterman" and Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and released an Italian-language recording in 1996. By the time Iglesias released an English-language recording he had in fact made 190 television appearances in 23 countries and had sold 13 million albums worldwide.
Iglesias released "Bailamos (We Dance)," his first English-language release, in 1999 as part of the soundtrack to a movie starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline called Wild Wild West. When Smith solicited a recorded contribution from Iglesias for the Overbrook/Interscope movie soundtrack, Iglesias turned to an earlier recording that he had never released to any record label. Iglesias offered the recording to Universal Music Group/Interscope for the movie soundtrack and the record company not only liked the song, but proceeded to sign Iglesias to a six-album recording contract, including three Spanish albums and three in English. That episode was a milestone in Iglesias's career, marking the point where he crossed over effectively from the Latino musical genre and into the generic popular styles. Additionally, the $44 million contract, for six albums, moved Iglesias into the forefront among the highest-paid Latino artist of the times. "Bailamos," released as a single, rapidly sped its way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early September of 1999.
By the end of the decade, eleven of Iglesias's single releases held a spot at number one among a total of 19 countries. He secured 116 platinum records and 26 international awards, including a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Performance in 1997, plus an American Music Award; and he was a two-time recipient of Billboard's Latin Music Award as the Hot Latin Tracks Artist of the Year. He was not yet 30, but his image had appeared on 250 magazine covers.
In 1998 Iglesias secured the title of People en Espanol's "sexiest man," yet for all his charm he maintained that he wrote his best song material when he was mooning over a romantic breakup. Although he earned a reputation as a sloppy dresseromplete with five-o'clock shadow and oftentimes grungy attireress relations notwithstanding there was nothing that hampered his image as a ladies' man. Iglesias's managers meanwhile bemoaned the fact that their client was somewhat given to risk-taking, especially when he required 40 stitches in his head following a water-skiing accident in 1998 when he slammed into a mangrove tree.
Emphatic in his likes and dislikes, Iglesias professed that he harbored a sympathetic heartstring for Loony Tunes' Wile E. Coyote, and Iglesias's own personal taste in music runs to other popular singers including Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and the group Dire Straits. He professed that his interest in women veers toward talent over beautiful looks. He openly shunned the playboy image that pursued his father over the years and aspired to settle into a comfortable and monogamous relationship. In response to the suggestion that Julio Iglesias and Enrique Iglesias might one day record a duet together, the latter responded without malice that he would prefer to sing in duet with pop star Michael Jackson.
"Si Tu Te Vas (If You Leave)," 1995.
"Experiencia Religiosa (Religious Experience)," 1996.
"Bailamos (We Dance)," Overbrook Music, August 10, 1999.
Enrique Iglesias (includes "Si Tu Te Vas"), Fonovisa, 1995.
Version En Italiano, Fonovisa, 1996.
Vivir, Fonovisa, 1997.
Cosas Del Amor, Fonovisa, 1998.
Bailamos, Fonovisa, 1999.
Enrique, Interscope Records, 1999.
Billboard, April 11, 1998; July 10, 1999; September 9, 1999; September 11, 1999.
Maclean's, September 2, 1996.
People, April 22, 1996; May 11, 1998; August 16, 1999.
Rolling Stone, August 19, 1999.
Time, November 6, 1995.
Variety, December 8, 1997.
"About Enrique Iglesias," http://www.enriqueiglesias.com/about1.htm (August 3, 1999).
"Enrique Iglesias," http://rollingstone.tunes.com/sections/artists (August 13, 1999).
"Straight Talk: Advice from Enrique Iglesias," http://www.usaweekend.com/97_issues/970601/970601talk_igles... (August 3, 1999).
Did this raise a question for you?