The coast has a thriving live music scene, with festivals such as Starlite, Mare Nostrum and Cala Music now firmly established and attracting large audiences. With its creative vibe, laid back lifestyle and easy connections to the rest of Europe, some of the biggest names in the music business have made Marbella their home, or just chosen to chill when life on the road gets too much.
Giles Brown, BRIGHT’s own inevitable guest at the After Party, has the low down on rock god retreats, pop star pads and music icons’ mansions.
Let’s begin at the Beguine. Spanish megastar and international Lothario Julio Iglesias, whose hits include “To all the girls I’ve loved before” and “Begin the Beguine” has lived in his huge estate, “Cuatro Lunas”, for decades. The 450-hectare finca has three swimming pools, a helipad, tennis courts and private walking trails. As well as the main, eight-bedroom house, there are several ‘smaller’ cottages in the grounds, which is what you would expect for a property valued at €145 million. Julio purchased “Cuatro Lunas” in the 80s when he was at the height of his ‘Latin Love God’ powers. His concert in 1986 at the Bullring in Puerto Banus still stands out in my memory, as the audience comprised mainly fabulously dressed daughters, mothers and grandmothers!
Lola Flores, the iconic Spanish singer, dancer and actor of the 50, 60s and 70s, also kept a house in Marbella. “Los Gitanillos” was the scene of several legendary parties and impromptu flamenco performances during Lola’s time in Marbella. She is still remembered with a statue and a road named after her, which leads down to the Ocean Club.
Up in the Golf Valley in Nueva Andalucia, Rock n Roll chart topper Shakin Stevens had a villa on the front line of Las Brisas golf course. Proving that he had a sense of humour, he named it “Esta Casa Vieja”, the Spanish translation of one of his biggest hits “This Old House”. I always thought, however, that he missed a trick by not painting the main entrance green in tribute to another of his hits “Green Door”.
Former cloakroom girl at The Cavern, Cilla Black became a huge star in the UK in her own right with hits such as The Beatles penned “Step Inside Love” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart”. In the 80s Cilla became the queen of Saturday night TV with shows including “Blind Date”, and bought a villa in El Paraiso, Estepona. Cilla was a frequent visitor to Marbella’s celebrity hotspots, including Villa Tiberio and Puerto Banus. Tragically she was found dead after a fall at the villa in 2015.
“Do you think I’m sexy” rocker Rod Stewart has a long relationship with Marbella. He owns a villa in the exclusive millionaires’ development of La Zagaleta and in the 80s kept a place in Estepona. Rod was often spotted in Puerto Banus at that time and even had a beer in a Rock n Roll bar in Marbella Port – must to the surprise and delight of the Spanish rockabillies! A sell-out show at this year’s Starlite Festival proves that Rod is still massively popular in Marbella!
Ronnie Wood, long-time friend and bandmate of Rod’s in The Faces (which was aptly described as a drinking gang with a band attached) before joining The Rolling Stones also had a place in Marbella. It quickly became the favoured hangout for any visiting rock royalty.
Another legendary rocker Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, made the coast his base. He may have been famous for “Rocking all over the World” but the guitarist had a villa in the hills behind Marbella in the last years of his life.
Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson chose Marbella to escape the hectic pace of life on the road and the pressures of performing. Together with husband, Micke Bolyos, she moved to the coast in search of a healthier lifestyle. Tragically it was at the Marbella house that Marie suffered a brain tumor in 2002. Marie was to battle cancer for the next two decades, putting family before performing, before succumbing in 2019.
Another Swedish stay was Ulf Ekberg. “All that she wants” was a massive worldwide hit for his band Ace of Base. He celebrated with a house in La Zagaleta complete with Infinity pool and huge private grounds – proof that you really only need one huge hit!
Pint sized purple performer Prince made his home in the El Paraiso area of Estepona after falling in love with Marbella after his memorable gig in 1990. Naturally, he painted his mansion purple and a large Prince symbol was clearly visible on the outside. Although he loved Marbella, his time at the house was bittersweet as Prince and his wife Mayte were to lose their baby son shortly after his birth. Perhaps the house was a reminder of what could have been, the couple separated, and Prince left Marbella shortly afterwards.
“Only way is up” 80s dance star Yazz has lived in Marbella for several years. She turned her back on the dance scene decades ago and now lives a quiet life, although she still performs in her local church choir.
At the heavier end of the music scene, Eddie Clarke, or simply ‘’Fast” Eddie, the guitarist in the classic Motörhead lineup of the late 70s also lived on the coast. “The Ace of Spades” shredder played gigs in bars and clubs before sadly passing away a few years ago. Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore, the man behind hits including “Still Got the Blues for you” and “Parisienne Walkways” lived near Estepona and often dropped in to jam with the regular guitarists at the Las Dunas hotel.
As well as living full time, several rock stars have chosen to hang out in Marbella, including Lenny Kravitz and Lady Gaga in a private villa at the Marbella Club (alas, not at the same time), Jay Kay, Mariah Carey when dating singer Luis Enrique, Craig David, and George Benson, who was made an Ambassador for Marbella.
And then there are the stories that I cannot tell, such as Shakira, who had an end of tour party at Terra Blues – that no one ever found out about, and Oasis, who hid in a private villa in the hills above Marbella before the release of their third album….but that’s an entire article in itself!