Gipsy Kings is a music group from Arles and Montpellier, France. Although group members were born in France, their parents were gitanos who fled Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. They are known for bringing Rumba Catalana, a pop-oriented version of traditional flamenco music, to worldwide audiences. Their music has a particular Rumba Flamenca style, with pop influences; many songs of the Gipsy Kings fit social dances, such as Salsa and Rumba. Their music has been described as a place where "Spanish flamenco and Romani rhapsody meet salsa funk".
They explained the evolution of their sound in the 1996 PBS documentary of their lives and music "Tierra Gitana (Gipsy Land)". Young brothers Nicolas, Canut and Paul Reyes accompanied their father, famed flamenco singer Jose Reyes, who started out singing "cante jondo" (deep chant), traditional flamenco with long-running themes of passion, love, death, etc. But they began playing rumba flamenca because "we liked to watch pretty girls dance," said Nicolas.
Latin American beats had been joined with flamenco by gitanos since at least the 1950s, mixing complex strumming with rhythmic, percussive tapping on their guitars' tops. The new Reyes generation — soon to meet and join up with three guitar-playing brothers from the Baliardo family — began creating more pop-oriented songs. They played at roma parties and at street corners until they got their chance to record under the group's new name, Gipsy Kings.
Sharp-eyed individuals might have noted that all the left-handed members of the group play guitars strung upside-down; this is usually as a result of the individuals' not having their own guitars when growing-up. Borrowing and playing a right-hander's the wrong way up was the only way to learn.