Spanish pop star Rafael Martos (born Miguel Rafael Martos Sánchez and globally as "Raphael") is one of Spain's best-known singers. His multi-octave range and flamboyant stage persona have entertained and engaged people worldwide since 1959. He is also a movie and television actor, and the father of Spanish movie director Jacobo Martos. Raphael is perhaps known best in his homeland for dramatically acting out his songs while on-stage. His record company, Hispavox, awarded him with the world's one and only "Uranium Disc" for his compilation album Ayer, Hoy y Siempre due to the impossibility of presenting him with 300 platinum discs — it sold 50 million copies.
Born in 1943, Raphael took first place at a children's festival at the age nine, best among contestants from all over Europe. In 1966, Raphael represented Spain at the Eurovision festival with his song "Yo Soy Aquel" and one more time the following year with "Hablemos de Amor." By that time, the artist's popularity was reaching America, allowing him to perform at New York's Madison Square Garden. Raphael's acting career started in 1962, playing a role in the movie Te Voy a Contar Mi Vida, directed by Antonio de Amo. A starring role was played by Raphael in the 1966 movie Cuando Tú No Estas. One of Raphael's major achievements has been learning different languages to reach as many people as possible, singing and recording in English, French, Italian, and even Japanese, and performing at the most important venues around the world such as New York's Carnegie Hall, Paris' Olympia, Moscow's Bolshoi, and Sydney's Opera House. He released the "uranium"-certified Ayer, Hoy y Siempre in 1982 — the 50-million-selling double-length career overview contained virtually all of his hit singles and popular album cuts. Raphael was the biggest artist in Spain. He regularly sold out every venue he played, and his catalog of recordings had already, up to that point, moved nearly a hundred million units.
In 1987, Raphael celebrated his 25th career anniversary, making history for being able to reunite 114,000 fans at Santiago Bernabeu's stadium. In 1998, the artist published his biography in a 569-page book called ¿Y Mañana Qué? In 2000 Raphael took part in the Spanish version of the stage musical Jekyll & Hyde for seven months, with great success.
Three years later he suffered a major health setback when he contracted Hepatitis B. After requiring a liver transplant, he recovered successfully and has been an active organ donation promoter ever since. Raphael spent the most of the 2000s recording for Sony, including his 2012 chart hit El Reencuentro, followed by a world tour and the live offering Reencuentro: En Directo Teatro de La Zarzuela in 2013. He moved over to Universal for 2014's De Amor & Desamor and the following year's Raphael Sinphónico and the holiday set, Ven Aa Mi Casa Esta Navidad. That same year, he made his first cinema appearance in nearly four decades, in the hit film Mi Gran Noche directed by Álex de la Iglesia. His co-stars included Mario Casas, Pepón Nieto, Blanca Suárez, and Carlos Areces. Raphael won a Goya award for best actor at that year's Latin Beat Film Festival. In 2016, Raphael released the studio offering Infinitos Bailes, whose tracks were composed by a who's-who of Spanish songwriters including Enrique Bunbury, Dani Martín, Galician Ivan Ferreiro, and Pablo López, among others. In 2017, the Rama Lama label issued the first two entries in its chronological overview of the singer's career: Vol. 1: Sus Tres Primeros Álbumes Con Hispavox [1965-1967] and Vol. 2: Sus Primeras Grabaciones en Discos Philips y Barclay [1962-1963]. ~ Drago Bonacich