Spanish singer Adriángela was one of the Zafiro label’s darlings. But she found herself caught between two stools – part ye-yé girl, part old-school songstress. However, although she lacked the sex appeal – and success – of some of her contemporaries, she cut an impressive 12 singles and four EPs for the label between 1965 and 1968.
She was born María José Guillén Torres in Valencia in 1942. She was a musical child and went on to study piano at the city’s music conservatory in her teens.
In 1961, under the name Adriángela, she took part in a song contest in Madrid. Her performance caught the eye of bosses at Iberofón, who offered her a contract. Concierto de amor became the lead track of her only EP for the label.
A year later, she enjoyed an equally brief stay at EMI for the release of Llevan, a song she performed at the 1962 Benidorm song festival.
But it was really when she joined Zafiro in 1965 that she found her feet, albeit after a false start. An attempt to represent Spain at the 1965 Eurovision song contest with Cantares fell flat on its face – Adriángela lost out to Conchita Bautista in the Spanish national final, finishing fourth.
However, ye-yé girls were all the rage, covering UK and US hits for the Spanish teen market, and Zafiro bosses were keen for a slice of the action. Adriángela was despatched into the studio to cut Siempre hay algo que me recuerda a ti. The song was a version of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned (There’s) always something there to remind me – which had just given Brit girl Sandie Shaw her first UK chart topper – and it was issued as Adriángela’s debut single for the label.
A second 45 featured the dramatic Ve con él (with fan favourite Me gusta la gente on the B-side) and an EP of her four Zafiro releases to date was also issued.
Recordar brought the singer greater success. With it, she won the Palma song festival that year. Released as a single, its B-side was a great take on French star Sylvie Vartan’s Dans tes bras (je veux l’oublier), En tus brazos quiero olvidar.
El mundo, a cover of an Italian tune, was picked for the follow up, though again the flip – the storming Nunca hay bastante – has become the more sought-after side.
Despite her popularity, Adriángela’s problem was that was maybe just a little too classical in her vocal style to make a convincing ye-yé girl. She saw out 1965 with two further 45s, the gentle Siempre hay un mañana and La mitad de la mitad. Although they suited her voice, these releases confirmed that perhaps she wasn’t really a ye-yé girl at heart.
After the release of He visto un hombre pasar in early 1966, she was teamed with hip Spanish combo Los Brincos to record a track they had written for her, Porque nunca se contó. For many, the song is the highlight of her career, though it failed to sell as well as expected.
She also lucked out at that year’s Benidorm song festival when 12-year-old Alicia Granados took the top prize.
Label bosses decided that a new direction was need for Adriángela. This saw her cut versions of the theme from Doctor Zhivago and the Francis Lai-penned Un homme et une femme, Un hombre y una muyer, for release as a single in 1967.
Just three further singles – Tan lejos, Marea baja and Gigante – were issued over the next couple of years, before Zafiro dropped the singer.
She landed at the Sintonía label, where bosses wanted to pull out all the stops to promote their new signing.
There was great interest in the Eurovision song contest in Spain in 1969, as Madrid was playing host, following Massiel’s win the previous year. Sintonía knew that the first prize at the Palma song contest was the right to take part in the Spanish final to select the country’s Eurovision entry.
So the label put forward Adriángela singing Buenos días – and she won the contest in Palma and duly took the song to the national final. She lost out, however, to Salomé (who went on to share the Eurovision prize with three other girl singers – Britain’s Lulu, France’s Frida Boccara and the Netherlands’ Lennie Kuhr).
After just one more single, Mira que llega la mañana, Adriángela and Sintonía parted company.
She joined the Fidias label in 1971, but success proved elusive and her stay brief.
Finding herself without a recording contract, Adriángela moved to Torremolinos, where she opened a piano bar. She has continued to perform in the bar but has deliberately remained out of the media, despite renewed interest in her older recordings.