The innovative crossover artist José Feliciano turns 78

In 1968 his chart topping cover of The Doors “Light My Fire” ignited the music career of the Puerto Rican artist

The innovative crossover artist José Feliciano turns 78

The Puerto Rican singer and musician José Feliciano was one of the first artists to bring Latin music to the mainstream charts and preferences, coming to prominence during the late 1960’s, where he was able to make his unique songs be heard by a generation of Psychedelic Rock fans. Born in Lares, Puerto Rico on September 10, 1945, Feliciano was born blind as a result of congenital glaucoma. From a very early age he started to play several instruments, developing a natural music talent. During the 1960’s he was discovered while playing pubs, coffee houses and clubs throughout the U.S, especially in Greenwich Village, New York. His breakthrough was in 1968, when his cover of The Doors No.1 hit “Light My Fire” quickly climbed the charts unexpectedly as it was first released as the B-Side to another cover “California Dreamin'”.

As an innovative crossover artist with soul, folk and rock influences, José Feliciano infused his music with a substantial Latin flair (he stated soul music in general, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke in particular as influences), developing that way a signature sound that has influenced generations of musicians all over the world. In 1967, at the London’s Speakeasy Club, Jimi Hendrix came to the stage and complimented Feliciano on his extraordinary guitar work and 20 years later, Feliciano received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 1, 1987. He was also honored by the City of New York, which renamed Public School 155 as the Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School. José Feliciano turns 77 today, and has a music legacy that will certainly endure for generations to come.

Watch José Feliciano performing his 1968 hit “Light My Fire”, originally by The Doors

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