Enrique Iglesias remembers visiting Las Vegas as a youngster.
"I just remember a lot of lights and big rooms," he says of
the Caesars Palace environment that's been like a second home to his
famous father, Julio Iglesias.
In November 1997, the younger Iglesias got a taste of that star treatment
himself. Performing at the MGM Grand Garden arena, the hotel's penthouse
suites marked "the first time I'd seen that they had a suite with
an elevator (to get from the first floor to the second)."
So he can see how his dad may have been spoiled?
"I can see how any artist would get spoiled," he says.
But Iglesias says that to have grown up around that environment is not
the motivation to get into the music business that some might think.
"You've seen it all, to tell the truth," he says. "You
don't really do it for the money, you just do it because you love it.
I think, in the end, the artists who do well don't do it for the money."
In just three years, the 24-year-old Iglesias has done quite well.
Three platinum albums -- all sung in Spanish -- have established him
as a balladeer with a career surpassing his father's in the short run,
and showing the potential for the same kind of long-term longevity.
Since his debut album was released in late 1995, Iglesias also has helped
transform Latin radio stations, scoring 11 No. 1 singles on Billboard's
Hot Latin Tracks chart ("Nunca Te Olvidare" currently holds
the top spot).
"It was hard for me to get on the radio in places like Miami because
the listeners were not young people," he notes. "They'd say,
`You're 18 or 19 years old, no one's going to listen to your style of
music because they're not into that."
And Iglesias could sympathize. He was one of those young people himself.
"I really didn't (listen to Latin radio). You know why? I would
turn on the radio and all I would listen to was 40-, 50- and 60-year-old
"OK, good, there was nothing wrong with them, but they'd been there
for so many years and you didn't hear any of the young stuff, you know?
You didn't hear any of the younger people. Radio knew that the listeners
were older people, but they were older people because they would always
play older people."
Iglesias knew "that type music had to be updated." But, perhaps
ironically, he felt his famous surname would hurt him more than help
The singer was born in Madrid, Spain, but grew up at his father's Miami
estate after his father and Filipina mother, Isabel Preysler, divorced
in 1979. He first started singing and trying to write songs with two
older friends when he was 15.
After he decided to drop out of the University of Miami to pursue show
business, he chose his dad's manager -- Fernan Martinez -- but not his
father's name. He swore Martinez to secrecy and had him shop demo recordings
of his songs under the name Enrique Martinez.
"I didn't tell anyone because it was songs I had been writing since
I was 14," he says. "It was almost like my own diary, I put
music to it. I don't know, I just kind of felt it was my own little
Three major Latin labels turned him down. Finally the smaller Fonovisa
label signed him on the music's merits, only gradually revealing the
singer's lineage to the public.
People like to compare Enrique's success to his father's. But Enrique
notes that comparisons are unfair because the music industry has changed
so much in the past 15 years.
Julio, 55, was never famous in the United States until his 1984 duet
with Willie Nelson, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."
Today, he wouldn't have to sing in English -- as his son has proved.
"When my dad started ... Latino music wasn't as big in the U.S,"
he says. "But now, you have 30 million Spanish-speaking people
in the U.S."
And a lot of them are second generation, just like Enrique. "They
grew up in the U.S. and they speak more English (than Spanish), but
they still get into our music."
He notes that McDonald's is a sponsor for his current tour. "They
notice that 30 percent of the people that buy McDonald's are Hispanic."
When interviewed earlier this week, Iglesias already knew that Heftel
Broadcasting Corp. -- the owner of Spanish-language stations around
the country -- recently bought KISF-FM 103.5 in Las Vegas, and will
soon make it the first Spanish station on the FM dial.
"It will definitely make a big difference," he says. So far,
touring has been limited to cities with Hispanic populations, and so
it tends to focus on the two coasts and Southern border cities. This
week, Iglesias was in Miami filming a video to a song, "Bailamos,"
that will be his first with English lyrics. He's calling the song "a
bonus track," meaning that it might be more to test the waters
than a major push for a crossover hit that is still one of his goals.
"When you talk about English it's a whole different world,"
he says. "To have an English hit in the U.S., I mean give me a
break. English is English. ... You can survive with Latin music but
an English hit is an English hit."
So far, Iglesias has steered clear of the "Frank Sinatra Jr. syndrome"
of being cast as a younger version of his father, despite designations
such as the Spanish version of People magazine naming him "The
Sexiest Man in the World" last year. "I'm not a swingin' playboy
guy, trust me," he says.
"I don't think you can actually market a heartthrob. It either
becomes or it doesn't become. To tell you the truth, I hate that word
-- heartthrob," he repeats with disgust.
However, there's no need to be too uptight about things either. He
remembers the Hard Rock's casino being "full of young women"
during his last visit. "That's like a major party there. I don't
mind that for a few days."
Asked if his celebrity would prevent him from being able to move around
in such surroundings without causing a scene, he answered with a laugh,
"If there's women you can move around."
Celebrity photos courtesy of Getty Images, WireImage, Tetu Magazine, Icon Magazine,
Attitude Magazine, DNA Magazine,
Paparazo, Terra's The Boy,
Lion's Gate Films, New Line Cinema, Twentieth Century Fox,