Manu Chao

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Manu Chao (2007)
Manu Chao (2007)
Chart positions
Explanation of the data
  DE 14th 
09/20/1999 (36 weeks)
  AT 13 
05.03.2000 (30 weeks)
  CH 9 
Double platinum
× 2
Double platinum
04/25/1999 (115 weeks)
  FR 1
04/18/1998 (189 weeks)
  IT 80 03/06/2005 (1 week)
Próxima Estación: Esperanza
  DE 4th 06/18/2001 (19 weeks)
  AT 2 06/17/2001 (18 weeks)
  CH 1Template: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / NR1 link
Triple platinum
× 3
Triple platinum
06/17/2001 (33 weeks)
  FR 1Template: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / NR1 link
Triple platinum
× 3
Triple platinum
06/09/2001 (76 weeks)
Clandestino / Próxima Estación: Esperanza
  FR 70 10/20/2001 (24 weeks)
Radio Bemba Sound System
  DE 32 09/23/2002 (6 weeks)
  AT 16 09/22/2002 (8 weeks)
  CH 2 
09/22/2002 (23 weeks)
  FR 3 
Double gold
× 2
Double gold
09/14/2002 (56 weeks)
Sibérie m'était contéee
  FR 32 11/28/2004 (1 week)
La Radiolina
  DE 5 09/17/2007 (9 weeks)
  AT 5 09/14/2007 (11 weeks)
  CH 1Template: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / NR1 link
09/16/2007 (28 weeks)
  UK 41 09/29/2007 (3 weeks)
  US 71 09/22/2007 (3 weeks)
  FR 2 09/08/2007 (101 weeks)
  IT 1Template: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / NR1 link 09/09/2007 (21 weeks)
Baion Arena
  DE 36 05/10/2009 (3 weeks)
  AT 47 October 02, 2009 (2 weeks)
  CH 17th 09/27/2009 (8 weeks)
  FR 5 09/19/2009 (41 weeks)
  IT 36 09/20/2009 (5 weeks)
Bongo bong
  DE 7th March 20, 2000 (16 weeks)
  AT 4th 04/23/2000 (13 weeks)
  CH 15th 04/23/2000 (19 weeks)
  FR 40 06/26/1999 (23 weeks)
Me Gustas Tú
  AT 29 06/03/2001 (9 weeks)
  CH 11 05/27/2001 (30 weeks)
  FR 2 
06/02/2001 (33 weeks)
Merry blues
  CH 90 11/25/2001 (2 weeks)
Mr. Bobby
  CH 60 08/04/2002 (7 weeks)
  FR 86 07/27/2002 (4 weeks)
Sénégal Fast Food ( Amadou & Mariam feat. Manu Chao)
  FR 28 07/16/2005 (18 weeks)
Rainin in Paradize
  CH 39 07/22/2007 (15 weeks)
La Vida Tómbola
  CH 72 07.09.2008 (2 weeks)
Manu Chao (1999)
Manu Chao logo, as found on some album covers

Manu Chao (actually José Manuel Arturo Tomás Chao Ortega ; born June 21, 1961 in Paris ; also known under the pseudonym Oscar Tramor ) is a French singer and guitarist of Basque - Galician descent. The musical style of his solo releases can be summarized under the term world music , but his songs are mainly reggae- style.

Manu Chao is the older of the two sons of the Spanish journalist and writer Ramón Chao and the Basque artist Felisa Ortega. He was born in Paris five years after his parents fled into exile in France and grew up there. Today he lives u. a. in Marseille and Barcelona .

From 1987 to 1995 he was a member and creative head of the band Mano Negra , which he a. a. with his two years younger brother, the trumpeter Antoine Chao. With his single Bongo Bong (a reinterpretation of the song King of Bongo by Mano Negra) he made his breakthrough in the music markets of Europe and North America in 2000. The albums Clandestino and Próxima Estación: Esperanza each achieved platinum status . They deal thematically with the situation of people in the world in general, with the effects of colonialism and imperialism on the Third and First World , with the living conditions of migrants in Europe or, last but not least, are classic love songs.


Childhood and youth

Manu Chao spent his childhood and youth in Paris as the son of the Galician journalist and writer Ramón Chao (1935–2018), who was described by Alessandro Robecchi as a “highly educated intellectual and sensitive reporter of the Latin American world”. His Basque mother Felisa Ortega is active in the artistic field. Both went into exile in Paris to escape the Francoist regime in Spain. His brother, two years younger than him, the trumpeter Antoine Chao , who is now v. a. works as a journalist, founded the band Mano Negra in 1987 with him and other friends .

In the banlieues , the Parisian suburbs, the life of Manu Chao, born in 1961, was twofold: On the one hand, in the Spanish- speaking family, which was regularly visited by Latin American intellectuals, writers and musicians. On the other hand, on the streets where French was spoken. Here the Chao brothers got to know some of their later band members. Most of their parents had also fled the Franco regime or immigrated to Sèvres from Latin America , Africa or the Arabic-speaking countries for financial reasons .

Musical beginnings

After Manu and Antoine, called Tonio, had learned to play the piano from their father , Manu decided to play the guitar .

At the time of his two bands Hot Pants in the mid-1980s and Los Carayos (1986-1994), Chao said he had no clear ideas about his political commitment. The first songs by Mano Negra, however, were partly "committed", as Chao himself noted in an interview. Even in those early days, a song was censored on French television because it contained communist and revolutionary ideas.



Some time later, Mano Negra and a large number of other French artists, such as B. Anouk , the Caravane . She toured almost all the suburbs of major French cities and offered a wide range of entertainment to the socially disadvantaged.

Malquíades / Cargo '92

Mano Negra visited the South American continent several times as part of their tours , but projects with the French traveling show group Royal de Luxe , which Chao met in the caravan , drove him to Latin America again and again .

The Malquíades was the first project of this kind. Together, the two groups of artists, supported by the French government and various organizations , bought and repaired a cargo ship to recreate a Paris street inside. With this ship, the artists visited Latin American ports in order to bring the residents closer to the French culture in the form of exhibitions, presentations, plays and concerts. In the four months of the trip the band gave about 100 concerts in eight ports and 40 cities in fifteen different countries.

Un tren de hielo y de fuego (A train of ice and fire)

In 1993 Manu Chao went with some of his friends and several employees of the Colombian railway company on a journey with a train that they had previously repaired and given all kinds of technical refinements. The train traveled from Santa Marta to Bogotá and crossed very remote regions of Colombia to bring its visitors a festival of plays , works of art and music . On this expedition , during which the artists had to submit to regular controls by the guerrillas and the military , who were mostly controlled by drug barons, Manu Chao saw, as he himself said, the true face of the countries of the global south in Latin America. Ramón Chao has published a book with the name of the train as the title, which is currently available in Spanish, French, Italian and German.

Radio Bemba

Radio Bemba is more of a collective term for projects. It is a collective, a community consisting of musicians, artists and friends Manu Chaos.

In addition, it is a "sound system", a band that almost completely reorganizes itself several times a year. This is a method that Manu Chao developed to defend oneself against the ordinary and repetitive. His motivation is to keep discovering new things, getting to know the unknown, continuing to educate himself and growing. As part of Radio Bemba , he began to try his hand at radio DJ and presenter.

In France and Spain it happens that Manu Chao and his collective Radio Bemba appear under the name Bombachitas Sisters , La Ventura or Los Musicarios in order to avoid big media hype .

The projects in Latin America and their influences on music

During the travels, the individual band members soaked up the music of the continent, which was clearly noticeable on the albums Puta's Fever (Spanish or English; German : "Hurenfieber") and King of Bongo ("King of the Bongo ") .

In the context of the project Un tren de hielo y de fuego ( Spanish for “A train of ice and fire”), however, there was a break between the band members Mano Negras for the first time ; some no longer agreed to undertake the rigors of the journey and left the train.

With a lot of recording material, Chao, without the other members of Mano Negra, went to a small Italian studio after the trip to mix and produce the album Casa Babylon . When reporting about this album, many voices later spoke of the “true first solo album Manu Chaos”, as the strong influence of Latin American culture is already noticeable here.

Some time after the release of the again quite successful album, Virgin Records announced the breakup of Mano Negra. The interests of the band members were too far apart, and so everyone began to devote themselves to new musical and social projects.

Solo career

After his band split up, Manu Chao turned his back on France for nearly four years. Instead, he devoted himself to new projects with various Latin American bands such as Skank from Brazil, Todos Tus Muertos from Argentina and Tijuana No! from Mexico. There were also collaborations with Spanish bands such as B. Negu Gorriak , Fermin Muguruza and Amparanoia .


In 1998 Chaos released his first solo album Clandestino with sixteen out of a total of 50 available songs, on which he dealt a lot with the social and political problems of the South American population and love .
Musically, the album is in contrast to Próxima Estación: Esperanza is more minimalistic, gently swaying rhythms are more likely to be found here than the powerful brass sections and walls of sound known from the second album .

In the eponymous song on this album, Chao addressed the illegal traveler, a symbolic figure of our time. Through his numerous travels he has learned that traveling is a privilege and that the human rights granted to him by the French passport are not observed everywhere.

Manu Chao achieved a great success and thus his final breakthrough with the single Bongo Bong , which was released in early 2000 , which for the first time contained electronic elements and caused a sensation especially in the US and European music industry.

By the beginning of the summer of 2000 - after Clandestino had won numerous prizes and met with general enthusiasm - the album had already sold two million times worldwide. Chaos former band Mano Negra, including all albums, best of compilations and live albums , has sold around two and a half million copies today .
On this album, Chao was mainly supported by the French singer Anouk Khélifa and his brother Tonio, who played the trumpet.

Próxima Estación: Esperanza

From the album Próxima Estación: Esperanza , the second solo album, the song Me Gustas Tú (a kind of declaration of love to everything lovable) was released in spring 2001 and, as with Bongo Bong , a video was made which was broadcast by all major music channels . In May 2001 the LP was released , which includes the song Mi Vida , a song that deals with love, insecurity , fear of the world and life that is afflicted with melancholy .

While Clandestino was a disappointed finding of injustice and corruption, Próxima Estación: Esperanza is a compendium on the complexities of life . Here, too, Chao uses spoken texts, cut together from television and radio , in order to give emphasis to his texts.

Radio Bemba Sound System (live album)

The live album Radio Bemba Sound System was recorded in Paris in 2002 and is considered the most powerful, energetic and fastest album by Manu Chao. At the same time, the live DVD Babylonia en Guagua Live was released , which offers the whole concert and a number of extras.

Sibérie m'était contéee

In sibérie m'était contéee is a social and socio-critical children's book with drawings by Jacek Wozniak and lyrics by Manu Chao, which a CD enclosed. It was sold almost exclusively in France with very limited editions . It's an album that jumps out of line: the texts in the form of children's stories and stories are all in French. Musically it moves mainly in the area of ​​French chanson and reggae . The rhythms are very varied. In Le p'tit jardin, for example, Chao tells of his garden, in which there are people, buildings, animals, cars, streets, drug addicts and almost everything imaginable, but no plants or flowers . But one day he finds a flower, but at the same time he accidentally crushes it.

La Radiolina

The studio album La Radiolina was released in 2007. Musically, it is a continuation of the studio albums Clandestino , Proxima Estacion Esperanza and the live album Radio Bemba Sound System . The title Rainin in Paradize was published in advance on Manu Chaos website for download. The album was created in collaboration with Mario Caldato ( Beastie Boys , Jack Johnson ) and Andrew Scheps ( Red Hot Chili Peppers , Mars Volta ).



Manu Chao describes his style of music as Mestizo , which is made up of rock , rap , ska , reggae , but also French chansons , salsa , flamenco and Algerian Raï , as well as other traditional musical styles from Africa and Latin America. At the beginning of his solo career, he also discovered electronic elements for himself. All of these different influences in his music come from both immigrants living in France and his travels to Latin America.


Chao sings in his songs in French , Spanish , Arabic , Italian , Portuguese , Galician , English , Portuñol and Wolof ; often he uses several languages ​​in a song.
Lyrically, he is also an all-round talent in the field of design: He writes stories, accusatory songs in poetry, reports, children's stories and fairy tales or lets his thoughts run free.


Manu Chao often addresses love; but he also often addresses social issues such as immigration , racism and international solidarity . Many of these songs reveal his left-wing political approach, which is primarily concerned with solving the problems of the global South , social justice and, related to this, the economy .

Manu Chao and the EZLN

Chaos is also related to the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN, German Zapatista Army of National Liberation) . Numerous song texts contain references to the indigenous social movement from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas , which with its armed uprising in 1994 drew attention to the situation of the indigenous peoples in Central America and continues to live largely autonomously to this day . Excerpts from the speeches of the former spokesman for the Subcomandante Marcos movement can be heard in several pieces, Manu Chaos . The most famous song in this regard is probably EZLN ... para tod @ s todo . The album Estación Mexico can be seen as a solo record by the artist for the social movement in Mexico , as the profits are passed on to the EZLN to expand the self-organization structures.

Fan base

The majority of his fans can be counted on the European left and the anti-globalization movement , in which Manu Chao is heavily involved. He was one of the founding members of the Attac organization in 1998 and appears frequently at its rallies. However, he is likely to have his largest following in Latin America and Africa. Some critical voices accuse him of the success he has with the help of the music industry . On the other hand, he separated in 2004 from Virgin Records and thus from major labels in general .


In 2004 Manu Chao produced the album Dimanche à Bamako by the Malian singer couple Amadou & Mariam , on which he can also be heard in some songs as a singer and musician.

He produced the song Me llaman calle for the soundtrack for Fernando León de Aranoa's film Princesas and received the Goya, the most important Spanish film award, in the category "best film song" (Mejor Canción Original) in 2006. However, Manu Chao did not appear at the award ceremony. He left this part to Margarita Carreras from the Asociación Hetaira , a collective that fights for the rights of prostitutes.

Manu Chao supports the La Colifata radio project in Argentina.


With Joint de Culasse

  • 1982: Super Boum Rock'n'Roll

With the hot pants

  • 1986: Loco Mosquito

With Los Carayos

  • 1987: Ils ont ose - live album
  • 1987: Persistent et signent
  • 1994: Au prix où sont les courges

With Mano Negra

  • 1988: Patchanka
  • 1989: Puta's fever
  • 1991: King of bongo
  • 1991: America perdida
  • 1992: In the hell of patchinko - live album
  • 1994: Bande original du livre - picture disc + book
  • 1994: Casa Babylon
  • 1998: Best of Mano Negra
  • 2005: Mini Negra EP - 4 tracks
  • 2005: Lo Mejor De La Mano Negra - double CD "Best of 2005"




  • 2000: Bongo Bong
  • 2000: Clandestino
  • 2001: Me Gustas Tú
  • 2001: Merry Blues
  • 2002: Mr. Bobby
  • 2007: Rainin in Paradize
  • 2007: Me Llaman Calle
  • 2007: Politics Kills


with Mano Negra

  • 1989: Puta's fever - video
  • 1990: Live Tournée Generale - video
  • 1991: America perdida - video
  • 1992: Cargo '92 video
  • 2005: Out of Time - double DVD


  • 2002: Babylonia en Guagua Live - DVD (Live)
  • 2009: Baionarena - DVD (Live)


  • Andy Vérol: Manu Chao, the Clandestino. Hannibal Verlag, Höfen 2010, ISBN 978-3-85445-322-2 .
  • Alessandro Robecchi: Manu Chao; Music and freedom. Ullstein, Berlin 2001 ISBN 3-548-36344-X .
  • Ramon Chao: A Train of Ice and Fire - With Mano Negra through Colombia. Nautilus, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89401-564-0 .
  • Philippe Manche: Manu Chao; Destinacion Esperanza. Le Serpent a Plumes, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-84261-470-4 (French).

Web links

Commons : Manu Chao  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Chart sources: DE AT CH UK US FR ES
  2. Awards: DE AT CH UK US FR1 FR
  3. Eugenio Cabezas: Manu Chao desata la locura en Frigiliana. In: Diario Sur , August 31, 2015, accessed July 8, 2018.
  4. Collège des fondateurs , Attac France