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  Biography  BIOGRAPHY   [1/3]


"Benito Lertxundi was born in Orio (Gipuzkoa) 6th January, 1942 on The Wise Men's day. He is the eldest of 9 brothers and sisters from a large, modest family.

His family was not traditionally musical although they did enjoy singing on special occasions. Benito himself showed a greater interest in drawing rather than music, although he remembers how he liked listening to the local organist secretly and in silence. He didn't like the official teaching of the times, with an imposed language which was not his mother tongue. Once he had finished school he studied at the Fine Art's School of the Franciscans in Zarautz. He learnt to model clay and wood; he won several awards and he obtained his first job as a wood carver.

When he was 19 he began to work in Martin Lizaso's watchmaker's shop, where he learnt to repair watches and made a crucial discovery. One day Lizaso brought him an old lute and Lertxundi started tuning and playing it in his own way. He enjoyed the experience, the following step was to buy an electric guitar. He practiced in the watchmaker's shop, before it opened, in the afternoon, making Basque versions of his favourite musical groups and singers: The Shadows, Cliff Richards, Elvis Presley…

  Benito with Mikel Laboa (1970)  
Benito with Mikel Laboa (1970)

However, his inclination towards music was not done in public until he entered a singing contest organised by a newspaper from San Sebastian called La Voz de España. He was one more out of the 400 or 500 contestants who went to The Bellas Artes Theatre, but he was chosen the winner and since then things began to change: he became famous in his village… and he received a call from Mikel Laboa.

Towards 1965 the Ez Dok Amairu movement was beginning, with artists such as, The Artza Brothers, Jose Angel Irigarai, Lourdes Iriondo, Xabier Lete, Julen Lekuona, Laboa himself… Oteiza's influence, during that great momentum which tried to renovate Basque Art and make society aware of it. Ez Dok Amairu happened to be a magnificent place to experiment and learn, and despite it breaking up in 1972, it had already made a mark and impression on Benito.

In 1971 his first long play record with his name as the title was published: Benito Lertxundi. Actually, it was a collection of his first singles: his first love and fight songs, which he sang with the guitar as his only aid, combining popular themes which had already been written, despite the fact that nowadays we could think he was musically naive."

(This text has been translated from the brochure in Hunkidura Kuttunak. Elkarlanean, 1993)

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