Jose “Chuscales” Valle Fajardo grew up in a time of turmoil for Gypsies in Spain. The country was ruled by Francisco Franco, a Spanish military leader in power from 1939 to 1975, who persecuted Gypsies, also known as Roma.
But Fajardo and his family were able dodge Franco’s harassment. They felt safe at their home in Ganada, built into a cave, which was customary for Gypsies during that time. And it was in that home full of extended family where Fajardo, at the age of 6, picked up a guitar and learned to play during lessons from uncles and other local guitarists who lived or performed in the area.
The family’s cave, in the hilltop neighborhood of Sacramonte that now serves as a tourist attraction, is where he gained not only his musical knowledge, but most of his education.