In 1967, in the Basque city of Bilbao, three young sisters, Amaya, Izaskun and Estibaliz Uranga, formed a vocal trio named Las Hermanas Uranga
(The Uranga Sisters
). They sang in various locations at Bilbao. During their rehearsals, their brothers and friends joined. Eventually they decided to form a vocal group named Voces y guitarras
("Voices and Guitars") with folk and spiritual music and The Beatles as their influences. The members of Voces y guitarras
were Amaya Uranga, Izaskun Uranga, Estibaliz Uranga, Roberto Uranga, Rafael Blanco, Sergio Blanco, José Ipiña, Javier Garay and Francisco "Paco" Panera. They spent a year performing around their hometown before sending a demo cassette to producer Juan Carlos Calderón in Madrid. He took an immediate interest in the group and renamed them Mocedades,
from the Spanish word mocedad,
which means "youth." Javier Garay could not join them because of his military service, and so Mocedades started out as an eight-member group.
Eurovision and worldwide success
In 1970, both Ipiña (for military service) and Panera (to become a professor at a local university) left Mocedades. Javier Garay who had previously belonged to Voces y Guitarras rejoined the group in 1970 after serving in the Spanish military in Africa. Estíbaliz Uranga and the Blanco brothers followed in 1971, and in 1972 Ipiña returned and Carlos Zubiaga (from Los Mitos) joined. It was with this configuration of six (three Uranga siblings, Zubiaga, Garay and Ipiña), known in Spain as "The Six Historic Ones", that Mocedades achieved its greatest successes.The group was now on its way to making a remarkable string of hits, most notably "Eres tú
" ("You are..."), runner up in 1973 and the next year a massive hit in Europe and the United States of America. "Eres tú" became one of the only Spanish language songs to reach the top 10 in the United States, peaking at #9 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also reaching the top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In the United States, the song is an airplay favorite today on Adult Standards and Easy Listening radio. The B-side of the single was the English-language version of the song ("Touch the Wind"), but radio stations preferred to play the original A-side version. There were also several cover versions of the tune in both English and Spanish, only one of which ("Touch the Wind" as done in English by Eydie Gorme), charted, becoming a minor Adult Contemporary hit. The song was re-released in English as "Touch The Wind" in later years. It was subsequently released in German (Das bist Du, or "You Are That"), French (C'est pour toi, or "It Is For You"), Italian (Viva noi, or "Long Live Us"), and Basque (Zu Zara, or "You are"). The song was the only U.S. Billboard hit for Mocedades; a follow-up, "Dime Señor
" ("Tell Me, Lord", with "I Ask The Lord" on its B-side), flopped.The 1973 Eurovision Song Contest was marked by a scandal, with charges that "Eres tú" was plagiarized and merely a rewrite of the Yugoslav entry from the 1966 contest ("Brez Besed", sung by Berta Ambrož). Nevertheless, "Eres tú" was not disqualified. After winning second place in the contest, and as of 2013 the highest score for Spain with 125 points, the song went on to become a huge international hit. (Per Mocedades' homepage [below\] Juan Carlos copyrighted the lyrics in 1972)However, many more hits followed in Latin America and Spain, most notably "Tómame o déjame
" ("Take Me or Leave Me"), "El vendedor
" ("The Peddler"), "La otra España
" ("The Other Spain") and "Me siento seguro
" ("I Feel Secure"). In 1980 Mocedades signed up to CBS Records, now Sony, and recorded more songs for the Spanish-speaking market, including "¡Ay amor!
" ("Oh Love") and "Amor de hombre
" ("Love of Man"), which was the first Mocedades track to enter English-speaking charts since the smash hit "Eres tú
".In 1984, the lead singer, Amaya Uranga, left the group to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Ana Bejerano, with whom Mocedades recorded three more albums for CBS. For the third album, also José Ipiña and Carlos Zubiaga had left the group, and had been replaced by Iñaki Uranga, one of the youngest brothers of the family. The comparisons between Amaya and Ana were lethal for Mocedades' mainstream popularity, and after this last album at Sony, the group was almost disbanded when Ana, Iñaki and Roberto left it, leaving Izaskun and Javier as the only historic members left. They reformed the group adding Ines Rangil, José García and Iñigo Zubizarreta to the group, establishing Izaskun as the female leader of the team and recovering the style of the first years, without a particular soloist at all. This Mocedades made in 1995 another album entitled "Suave luz" ("Soft light") before the new members left it again in 1996. They were quickly replaced by Idoia Arteaga, Jose Antonio Las Heras, Arsenio Gutierrez and Fernando Gonzalez, and this new team worked again with Juan Carlos Calderon to make an album for Walt Disney Recors, where they performed their own versions of Disney songs in Spanish. They started appearing in television again, but suddenly, in 1999, Izaskun had a car accident which forced her to stay in bed for two years, and in the meantime, the group ceased its activity. Due to the lack of work, Idoia, Arsenio and Fernando left Mocedades, while José Antonio and Javier patiently waited for Izaskun's full recovery.In 2001, Mocedades came back, recruited Luis Hornedo and Iratxe Martinez, and started performing live concerts in Spain and Latin America with a some success, while they promoted themselves in the Internet. They recorded several demo songs from the Beatles, but they never were released. 2005 proved to be an annus horribilis
for Mocedades, since three members from different phases of the group died in a matter of months, Rafael Blanco, Roberto Uranga and José Antonio Las Heras, the last one still being an active member of the group. He was replaced by a returning Fernando González. Iratxe also left the group and the music business, and she was replaced by Rosa Rodríguez. Mocedades, with Izaskun Uranga, Javier Garay, Luis Hornedo, Rosa Rodríguez and Fernando Gonzalez recorded a new album, "Mocedades canta a Juan Luis Guerra", with songs from the Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra. This album was only released in Latin America as is the only Mocedades album which remains unreleased in Spain. In 2010, Fernando momentarily left the group and was replaced by Edorta Aiartzagüena for their successful tour through the USA. After their return to Spain, in 2011, Fernando returned. On June 2012, Javier Garay announced at the group's web page the release of a new album. The first two songs, called "Fue mentira" and "El diluvio universal" are available in iTunes. However work on the album has been temporarily haulted since the sudden departure of Rosa Rodríguez and Fernando Gonzalez from the group at the end of 2012. Early in 2013 they were replaced by Begoña Costa and Aitor Melgosa who participated in the group's 45th anniversary tour of Mexico. The current line-up of Mocedades is Izaskun Uranga (the only member of the group who has never left it since its foundation as Las Hermanas Uranga), Javier Garay, Luis Hornedo, Begoña Costa, and Aitor Melgosa.