This week saw the passing of José Padilla, the former resident at Ibiza’s legendary Café Del Mar, following a battle with cancer.
As a note on Padilla’s Facebook page put it on Monday night, “It is with great sadness that we bring you the news that José passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night here on his beloved island of Ibiza. His family and friends would like to say thank you to everybody who sent donations and messages of support to help make his last few months easier, and to all the staff of Can Misses Hospital for taking care of him until the end.
“Now he has gone and the sunset in Ibiza will never be the same without him , but the beautiful music of Jose Padilla will stay with us forever.”
Tributes understandably poured in from the electronic music community following news of his passing, with arguably the most touching coming from James Horrocks, the co-founder of React Records, which released Padilla’s seminal Café Del Mar compilations, commencing in 1994.
“Jose Padilla helped create and establish a movement of deejays, producers & musicians who spanned the divide between natural, analog and electronic music, whose music could accompany the sunset, dinner or a full moon party and the morning after-party, beach party and pool party,” he wrote, in a lengthy post accompanied by a picture of the Ibiza sunset.
Hailing from Girona, near Barcelona, Padilla first arrived on the White Isle in 1976, before taking over the ones and twos at the beachside bar back in 1991, having already cut his teeth at several other venues on the island in the years previous.
“My first job as a DJ in Ibiza was in a hotel called Bergantin,” he told Red Bull Music Academy in 2018. “It was a very little box, with a little room. I was playing Barry White, ABBA, Julio Iglesias and all that shit. […] Then I had the chance to play in Es Paradis, which was the main club in San Antonio, an open-air place. In those days, they tested different DJs, so you had to go and prove yourself. I went there, proved myself and got the job.”
Working his way through various venues – while also purchasing tunes from regular visitors to the island, such as Trevor Fung – eventually led him to Café Del Mar, and the opportunity to bring his unique blend of downtempo funk and sun-blissed chill out to the masses, via the now iconic compilation mixes.
“The first one sold 8,000, the second one 30,000… the fifth one sold half a million,” he explained. “The Best Of Café Del Mar did over a million. We’ve done between three and four million worldwide now.”
Padilla would go on to record the first six Café Del Mar compilations (spearheading a legacy that now features several dozen mix albums), and each bears his creator’s trademark – a dash of progressive rock, a dollop of classical, swirling synths and soothing rhythms.
Essential listening for the ‘day after the night before’, whether on Ibiza’s sandy beaches or in a bedsit somewhere in an urban metropolis.
Signing off on the sixth edition of Café Del Mar – which finishes off with Dusty Springfield’s The Look Of Love – Padilla wrote, “Thanks to all the people through all the Café Del Mar Volumes One to Six, who have supported me and appreciated my understanding of music. This will be my last Café Del Mar compilation, but I’ll be back soon with a new project of the music we all love. Goodbye yesterday, Hello tomorrow. Love and Peace. José Padilla”
To pay tribute to the maestro, 909originals has selected our favourite tracks from the original sextet of iconic Café Del Mar compilations. Adios, José, and thanks for the memories.