A short biography of the Spanish anarchist militant, poet and songwriter Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio
Chicho (real name José Antonio Julio Onésimo Sánchez Ferlosio) was born on April 8, 1940 in a family with strong ties to the Francoist regime - his father, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, having been one of the founders of the Falangist movement. As a young man, Chicho proved a rebellious spirit, falling behind in school, getting arrested for blasphemy and becoming associated with the anti-Franco opposition.1 After a year of boot camp in Northern Africa, Chicho returned to Spain and settled down, starting a family. In 1961 he published Narraciones Italianas, a collection of traditional Italian folktales. This would be the only book to see the light of print during his lifetime, as soon after Chicho became more vocal about his opposition to the regime.
In 1964, with the help of fellow writer and friend Alfonso Grosso, Chicho anonymously recorded a number of anti-Franco and militant songs on a tape which was then smuggled into Sweden under the title of Spanska motståndssånger (Songs of the Spanish resistance). As the tape made it back into Spain, the songs proved immensely popular, and given their anonymity and militant tone, many thought they dated back to the Civil War era. Among the best known ones were La Huelga (The Strike), La Paloma (The Dove) and Gallo Rojo, Gallo Negro (Red Rooster, Black Rooster), which became veritable anthems for the antifascist movement.
Although initially Chicho was close to the Spanish Communist Party, he gradually became disheartened with the Stalinist Left. As he explained in the 1982 documentary/interview Mientras el Cuerpo Aguante, it was after going on a trip to Albania and witnessing the horrors of the Stalinist regime there, that he completely broke away with the SPC. After a short period of flirting with other strands of leftism, Chicho became interested in libertarian and anarcho-syndicalist ideas, and joined the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) in 1976.
After the fall of Franco, Chicho continued to remain active, artistically as well as politically. In 1978, he recorded his only official LP, A Contratiempo (released as a CD in 2007), which included some of his old political songs, as well as new compositions. He continued to write poems, as well as contribute articles to various newspapers like El País, Diario 16 and ABC on the corruption of the then Socialist government, the "Dirty War" in Argentina, or more recently, the war in Iraq and the plight of Sintel workers.
In 1999 he collaborated with Albert Boadella and Jean Louis Comolli for a documentary on the life of Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti. In the film, Chicho is seen interpreting several songs depicting various moments in the life of Durruti, songs like Historia de tres amigos (about the friendship between Durruti, Ascaso and Garcia Oliver) or Por allí viene Durruti.
His last project was the 2003 film Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamina), in which he had a minor role. He died the same year, leaving behind little published material but a wealth of songs, poems and stories. Most of his writings have been recently published in an anthology entitled De Chicho: Canciones, poemas y otros textos (Of Chicho: Songs, poems and other texts).
Chicho's songs have been covered by a variety of artists, from 60s folk icon Joan Baez, to Spanish hardcore punk group Puagh.
- 1. Rafel Vetusto, “Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, a contramuerte,” http://www.nodo50.org/Chicho-Sanchez-Ferlosio-a.html, accessed June 3, 2010