Pau Dones, the singer and guitarist with Jarabe de Palo, has died at 53 after a nearly five-year battle with colon cancer. Dones was a native of Montanuy in the Catalonia-region of Spain.
Dones’ death on June 9 was announced by the band in a statement on their official social media pages. The statement thanked various cancer hospitals for their “work and dedication” during Dones’ battle with the disease.
Jarabe de Palo released their first album in 1996, titled La Flaca. The band’s final release, Tragas O Escupes, was released in May 2020. The album’s title translates into English as “Swallow or Spit.”
Since 2008, the band released their material on their own label, Tronco Records. A few days before his death, Tronco Records said that Tragas O Escupes was listened to 772,000 times on Spotify and had achieved 3.1 million views on YouTube.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. During His Career, Dones Collaborated With Pavarotti, Alanis Morissette & Ricky Martin
Away from Jarabe de Palo, Dones wrote songs for Ricky Martin and directed a music video for Alanis Morissette. In 2004, Dones and his brother, Marce Dones, directed the clip for Morissette’s song, “Everything.” The pair were chosen as the “Everything” video was for the Spanish-language market. The concept for the video was based on Jarabe de Palo’s video for their song “Bonito,” according to a Billboard Magazine feature from the time.
Dones also collaborated with The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde. In 2004, Dones penned the duet between the pair, Cry. El Pais reported at the time that Hynde tracked Dones down after hearing one of his songs on the radio in a taxi in Barcelona. Hynde was in the city performing with the Rolling Stones. Their song appeared on Jarabe de Palo’s 2004 album, Un Metro Cuadrado.
Dones has also collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti and Cuban singer Celia Cruz. In April 2020, a post on Cruz’s official Facebook page publicly thanked Dones for his kind words about her in his autobiography, 50 Sticks.
2. Having Been Diagnosed in 2015, Dones Was Given the All-Clear in 2016 Before the Cancer Returned in 2017
Dones has battled cancer since 2015. The singer publicly disclosed his battle with the disease in August 2015. He was given the all-clear in 2016, according to Catalan News, but the cancer returned in 2017. Due to his battles with the disease, Dones announced in 2018 that he was stepping away from music indefinitely. Dones announced in an April 2020 video that he was coming out of retirement to begin performing and recording again. In December 2019, Dones performed at two fundraising concerts for cancer research in Barcelona.
Dones told Catalan News in December 2019 that he was living in California. He said of his new life:
Life is not only music. I used to live for music and for the other things. And what was I doing for my home? Earning money in order to pay bills. The future does not exist for me, and I live very well without a plan for the future and expectations of those plans.
Surviving the disease gives you a certain experience, and this is always an element of control, in the sense that you can measure your state of mind and your fears, and live with a certain calm.
In a 2018 interview with 20 Minutes Away, Dones said the price he paid for his highly successful music career was missing his daughter, Sara’s, childhood.
3. Dones Received His First Guitar From His Mother When He Was 16 Years Old, the Same Year She Committed Suicide
Prior to going into music, Dones studied economics in college in Barcelona. Following graduation, Dones went to work at an advertising agency in the city. Dones had been playing music since he received an electric guitar from his mother at the age of 16. Dones spoke publicly to Billboard Magazine in 2017 about his mother’s suicide when he was 16 years old.
In 2018, speaking about his mother’s suicide and his own cancer diagnosis, Dones told Practica Espanol, “Since you are born you start to die, it’s a bit harsh phrase but that’s the way it is.”
4. Dones Was a Dedicated Fan of FC Barcelona & of Lionel Messi
Dones has been quoted by Juniper Sports as saying that he identifies more as a “cule” than a soccer fan. “Cule” is a slang term for a fan or player of FC Barcelona. Dones said of Barcelona’s star player Lionel Messi when speaking to Juniper Sports, “He is beastly, he is an amazing player. He does bestial things.”
Dones also said that when he learned that a young fan named Marc was diagnosed with cancer, Dones brought Marc to a Barcelona game and sat in the VIP area.
5. Dones Has Said in the Past That ‘Life’ Was His Muse
In a 2014 interview with Kesta DC, Dones said his muse was “life.” He said, “That is my muse. The human factor is the most important part. My songs talk about the things that people experience, and I think that is one of the main reasons that people listen to us.”
During the same interview, Dones refused to single out one of his songs as his favorite saying, “They are all part of me.” Dones also did not say which artists were his favorite to listen to. Dones described himself as being a fan of “songs.” Dones added, “The same will happen with us. Someday no one will remember Jarabee de Palo but ‘Bonito’ will remain a hymn.”