Gino D'Auri, a flamenco guitarist who performed in concerts around the world and also in more intimate settings at Lares restaurant in Santa Monica and El Cid restaurant in Los Angeles for more than 20 years, has died. He was 69.
He died Jan. 26 of cancer at his home in Los Angeles, his wife, Dahad, said.
Born in Rome, D'Auri studied classical guitar and began performing around Italy, winning prizes at guitar competitions. He found his true passion in the early 1950s when he saw the movie "Sombrero," with dancer Jose Greco in the cast and flamenco music on the soundtrack.
D'Auri began studying flamenco guitar in Rome and continued his studies in Spain. He performed throughout Europe before moving to Los Angeles in the late 1960s.
Soon after he arrived, he was appearing often at Matador, a popular restaurant where he developed a following.
"Gino's music was strong and intense, but there was also tenderness," said the flamenco dancer Angelita, who performed with D'Auri over the years at El Cid and elsewhere.
He made several albums, including "Flamenco Mystico" and "Passion & Soul," both in the 1990s, accompanied by cello and percussion in some of his recordings.
He also taught music, telling his students that flamenco was not about playing countless notes as fast as possible. For him it was a way to express feelings and to improvise on traditional flamenco melodies.
D'Auri was performing regularly at Matador in the late 1960s when his boyhood idol, Greco, came to see him. Soon afterward he started touring with the Jose Greco Dance Company. "Greco became a mentor to Gino," Dahad D'Auri said. They performed together through the early 1970s.
In the late 1970s D'Auri began to appear at Lares and soon afterward at El Cid, enough so that he was on stage nearly every night of the week.
D'Auri, who was married twice, is survived by Dahad, his wife of 30 years.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at St. Dominic Church, 2002 Merton Ave., Eagle Rock. It will be followed by a reception at El Cid restaurant, 4212 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Details: (323) 668-0318.