Hailing from the coastal town of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, Los Flamencos was formed by two friends Stanislaus Fernando and Duleep De Silva with few of their friends joining in.
The group first performed at ‘Lagoon Delights’ festival held at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa in 1967. Line-up consisted Duleep De Silva on guitar as the leader, Stanislaus on vocals, Delricus Pieris on bass and Malcolm Corea on rhythm guitar. They performed the songs “Kalu Kelle” their own composition, “Chiquita Linda” a famous Spanish song and a song by C.T. Fernando and wowed the crowd.
This marked the beginning of the popular band ‘Los Flamencos’ named after the Spanish art ‘Flamenco’ for their love on Spanish songs. The group was much inspired by Neville Fernando of Los Cabelleros says Stanislaus.
The group’s first recording opportunity was with Gowri Corporation on for an EP on the Philips label including the songs “Kalu Kelle”, “Sudu Menike”, “Hinahawela” and “Podi Malliya”. The line-up being Duleep on guitar, Stanislaus on maracas and guiro, Delricus on bass guitar, Nihal on conga and George on rhythm guitar.
Having heard of their talents, Gerald of the Sooriya label invited the group for an audition for a recording. The audition at Gerald’s residence brought great success, leading to their next hit release on Sooriya label in 1969. The first EP with Sooriya titled ‘Los Flamencos On The Move’ was recorded for the trade name of Decca for which Gerald was the sole agent in Sri Lanka.
Music being rather a hobby than a living, all of the members of the group were working full time: Stanislaus at Grindlay’s Bank, Duleep an Accountant at Arpico, Delricus at Singer, George at Bata and Nihal an Engineer.
However, with their passion and love for music, the group practiced after work at Duleep’s residence from 7.00pm onwards. During weekends all members listened to music from Duleep’s LP collection, where they would discover new melodies and practice pronunciation of songs in other languages, mainly Spanish and Swahili.
Los Flamencos frequently performed Spanish songs like “Chiquita Linda”, “Adalita”, Italian and African songs like “Anna” and “Malika”. Their fondness for Spanish songs and style of singing was adapted in some of their Singhala songs as well as their attire. The group was known for their sound pronunciation of Spanish.
The group’s next recording was a single play disc including the two songs “Anuradhapura” (most commonly known as “Danno Budunge”) and a Sinhala folk song “Sudu Nena” bearing catalogue number CHB SP 1001. This was the first SP released by Sooriya label and the album was released without a cover design.
The song “Danno Budunge” with music directed by late Winston Jayawardene was never aired on radio as it was considered to be ‘westernized’ due to the harmony done by the group, despite the fact that Gerald had obtained permission from John De Silva to perform the song.
The line-up had minor changes from time to time; Deepal Peiris performed with the Lute for a short period and left to become a planter, Derik a friend of Delricus, performed only for the debut release on Philips label, Malcom Corea who brought the song “Kalu Kella” left to join the Army Band after the group’s first release, Malsiri Wijesuriya and Stanislaus’s brother Milroy Fernando performed with the group whenever required.
In 1973, the group released their last EP again on Sooriya label titled ‘Silky Caressing Voices of Los Flamencos’. The EP included songs “Bolanda Katha”, “Mini Mini”, “Adare Surathal Duwe” and “Geeyak Gaya”.
The group came in to the limelight with the publicity given by Sooriya label. Their songs became popular for the lovely harmony and melodies used in their songs, music for many of which were composed and directed were by the great Nissanka Wimalasuriya.
The group was in great demand during the early 70’s: they performed at Intercontinental Hotel on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Mt. Lavinia Hotel on Fridays for BBQ Night and Sundays for Oriental Buffet from 11.00am to 2.00pm. Stanislaus fondly remembers the incident where the group was provided a “Zephyr 6”, an elite luxury motorcar at the time, when they were invited by the Ceylon Tobacco Company to perform at a show in Mahiyanganaya.
In 1978, the group went apart with two members travelling overseas on work; Duleep to Malawi and Nihal to Zambia. Stanislaus left to Abu Dhabi in 1980 and returned to homeland after fourteen years. Duleep is now in New Zealand, Nihal in USA married to Duleep’s sister and George in Australia, Delricus and Stanislaus in Sri Lanka.
Members of Los Flamencos were never united again to perform as a re-union, though a return to Sri Lanka one day was discussed. Later, Stanislaus’s brother Milroy formed a group under the same name ‘Los Flamencos’ with new members.