“Fame,” explains Julio Iglesias, “is the greatest of all the gifts life bestows on you. It's a gift from God.” It is a sentiment he has obviously passed to his sons, who share his choice of career. He resists, however, attempts to compare them professionally, saying only: “I'm close to my sons, but as a father, not a singer.”
The Latin crooner's first love was football, and he was already a successful goal-keeper for top Spanish team Real Madrid when a horrific car injury ended his sporting aspirations when he was 19. Semi-paralyzed, he feared he might never walk again. To lift Julio's spirits, one of his nurses gave him a guitar, prompting the teenager to set his own poems to music. Two years later, against all odds, he was walking again.
Julio then embarked upon a career in law with an eye on diplomacy, and travelled to England to improve his languages. Encouraged by friends, he gave his first performances in London pubs during the “swinging Sixties”.
In 1968, he won a Benidorm singing competition, and went on to represent Spain at the 1970 Eurovision song contest, garnering a Spanish number one on the way. The following year he married 19-year-old Isabel Preysler and sold his first million discs. The couple had three children, Maria Isabel, Julio “Jos”, and Enrique, but divorced in 1979.
In the Eighties, Julio became the highest selling artist of all time. “He was the pioneer,” said Latin president of EMI Jose Behar – “before Julio, there was no international Latin superstar.” By 1990, the year he met and settled down with Dutch model Miranda Rijnsburger, his international album sales were so extensive Julio joked he would have to “sell records on the moon” next. He and Miranda have two sons - Miguel Alejandro, born in 1997, and Rodrigo two years later – and twin daughters, Victoria and Cristina, in 2001.
“A brilliant writer and he sings like heaven. He's closer to me professionally,” says Julio Iglesias senior of his eldest son. “Jos”, as Julio Jose Iglesias Jr is known to his family, is perhaps the most multi-faceted member of the Iglesias dynasty. Before turning 25 he had already launched his own singing career, performed on stage with his father, modelled for Versace and Gap, and appeared in Mexican and American soap operas.
Like his brother Enrique, Julio spent part of his childhood in Miami, but as the eldest son, he spent more time on the road with their father. As a result he grew up indifferent to fame, as well as his own good looks until, while he was still at high school in New York, he was approached by Bruce Weber to model for Versace.
He went on to work for Gap and top fashion photographer Mario Testino, but it wasn't long before he tired of being told what to wear - or rather, being told to wear less and less. Branching out into acting, Julio appeared in light TV fare such as American Out Of The Blue. This proved equally dissatisfying, however, and he soon realized that, like his father, his true love was performing.
Father and son may share the same passion, but Jos is adamant that there is more to his success than the influence of a famous parent. “Being the son of Julio Iglesias opens doors,” he explains. “But my record company wouldn't have signed me if my music hadn't been good, if they hadn't believed in me as an artist.”
“I'm very proud of my father,” says Enrique Iglesias, “But when you read music magazine Billboard now, you see my name...” And, having already gained a head start on his older brother Julio Jose, Enrique is well on the way to becoming the next Julio.
Following his parents' divorce, Enrique lived with his siblings and mother Isabel Preysler in Madrid until ETA terrorists kidnapped his grandfather. Although the patriarch was released unharmed, the incident resulted in the youngsters being sent to Miami to live with their father. Initially unhappy in the US, by the time he was a teenager Enrique was enjoying all that Miami had to offer – especially the Atlantic surf.
As a teenager he began to compose and secretly practise music before, at 19, revealing his talent to an ex-manager of Julio's after having requested a secret rendezvous. “I thought he'd got himself in trouble,” recalls Fernando Martinez later. Refusing to take advantage of his father's name until after he had landed a record deal, the budding musician eventually signed to Mexican label Fonovista as Enrique Martinez.
When he discovered that his son had dropped out of a business studies course in order to have a shot at the tempestuous music scene Julio was less than impressed. He needn't have worried, however. Enrique's eponymous first album notched up gold and platinum discs, as well as a Grammy, and turned the handsome, sultry-eyed singer into one of the hottest properties around.