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Manu Chao was born Jose-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao on June 21, 1961 in Paris, France.
The French-born singer and political activist of Spanish origin, Manu Chao, sing chiefly in Spanish, French and English and occasionally in a number of other languages.
Starting his musical career with the French band Hot Pants, Chao now is a solo artist who amalgamates different musical styles and languages.
Manu Chao was the son of a Galician father and a Basque mother, and moved to Paris as a very young child, when his parents decided to escape the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Chao"s father"s acquaintances were usually intellectuals and artists, and Chao refers to his childhood experience as inspiration for some of his songs.
He experimented with a number of different genres of music like punk and rockabilly in the 1980"s. His first band Mano Negra comprised his brother Antoine and some friends. The band played a combination of rock, punk, rockabilly, ska and Latin music, and became wildly popular in Europe and South America. Once the band disbanded, Chao became a solo artist.
Chao"s first band Hot Pants, which formed in 1980s, was largely influenced by the UK rock scene such as The Clash and Dr. Feelgood. The band"s demo, labeled Mala Vida, released in 1984 and received a lot of local critical praise, however gained them little attention.
However, as the new Parisian music scene arrived in the market, Manu Chao, his brother, and friends such as Alain from Les Wampas formed another band known as Los Carayos to amalgamate this sound with the rockabilly and punk styles of Hot Pants.
Releasing three albums in the first two years followed by a final album in 1994, Los Carayos remained a side project of the artists for eight years.
The multiracial band Mano Negra, formed in 1987, started on a smaller label. The group released a reworked version of the Hot Pants single "Mala Vida," which quickly became a hit in France. After the band had switched to Virgin Records, they released their first album Patchanka the following year and gained popularity throughout the world except the English-speaking market.
The band"s final album was Casa Babylon. However, due to many problems being faced by the band members, Manu Chao disbanded the group in 1995. After moving to Madrid, Chao and other band mates from Mano Negra formed a new group, Radio Bemba Sound System.
This new band"s music differed drastically from Mano Negra"s and the songs were primarily sung in Spanish. The musical style had now been shifted from punk and alternative styles to the street vibe. The songs were collectively released in 1998, under Manu Chao's own name.
The album earned the Best World Music Album award in 1999's Victoires de la Musique awards and sold 5 million copies. After the huge success of this band"s first album, a couple of more hit albums were produced. Following is a summary of all Manu"s albums with this band:
? Clandestino - 1998 Proximo Estacion: Esperanza - 2001 ? Live Album: Radio Bemba Sound System - 2002 ? Siberee M'etait Conteee - 2004? DVD: Live: Babylonia en Guagua - 2002 ? La Radiolina - 2007
Manu Chao"s music is very experimental. Heavy focus is laid upon Ska, Rai and Latin Music. Presently, he plays the guitar, and is usually accompanied by a band called Radio Bemba Sound System, which includes horns, keyboards and various world musical instruments.
His lyrics touch on a variety of issues, from the mundane and even silly to love, poverty and world politics. He sings in at least seven languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, English, Arabic and Wolof, often in the same sound.
Manu Chao is working on the soundtrack for the upcoming documentary film Maradona with Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica.? Manu Chao and Tonino Carotone performed the theme song "La Trampa" for the short-lived improvisational comedy Drew Carey's Green Screen Show.