José Celestino Casal Álvarez, more commonly known as Tino Casal, (11 February 1950, in Tudela Veguín, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain – 22 September 1991, in Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish singer, songwriter and producer, who was active during La Movida Madrileña (English: The Madrid movement) Tino was the most popular singer in the 80's in Spain.
Casal began his musical career, aged 13, in a group called "Los Zafiros Negros" (The Black Sapphires). In 1967 he joined "Los Archiduques" (The Archdukes), replacing their lead singer, who had fallen ill. He then left for London, in order to follow one of his other great passions - painting. It was there, that Casal had his first contact with glam-rock, attracted by the stream led by David Bowie, Sweet & T-Rex among others.
In 1977, after a series of trips abroad, Casal returned to Spain, where he signed a recording contract with Philips when Spanish music lovers were looking for a substitute for well-loved singers Nino Bravo and Bruno Lomas. During the 1970s, he performed at a number of different music festivals, and in 1978 he took part in the Benidorm Festival, where he won "Best Young Singer" and "Best Musical Composition.".
After breaking his recopublisherrding contract, Casal threw himself into painting until 1980, when he returned to music, producing other artists, such as Goma de Mascar or the Obús, the first heavy metal group in Spain. EMI took a keen interest in Casal's dual-role and offered him a contract in 1981.
With his new recording contract, Casal took major liberties over his working hours, the main reason why he returned to a musical career. In 1981, he released his first solo effort, Neocasal, produced by Julian Ruiz, which contained the hits "Champú de Huevo" (Egg Shampoo) - his first Number 1 - and "Billy Boy". Although the album had been poorly received by critics, Casal began to find followers. He also continued to produce records for groups, such as Azul y Negro and Obús, and collaborated with filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, financing his the production of the film Laberinto de pasiones (Labryinth of Passion) which yielded certain famous elements of Casal's appearance, such as his red jacket, originally worn by Imanol Arias.
In 1983 the release of Etiqueta Negra, consolidated Casal's position as a major player on the Spanish music scene with the success of "Embrujada" ("Bewitched") and "Póker para un perdedor" ("Poker for a Loser"). Despite having seen the album sell exceptionally well, Casal decided to edit and re-release the record with additional tracks. The following year, he released "Hielo Rojo" ("Red Ice"), from which appeared the hit single, "Pánico en el edén" ("Panic in the Garden of Eden"). In 1985 suffered from a heavy ankle sprain, whilst touring in Valencia. He chose to ignore medical advice and toured for two further months, self-medicating with anti-inflammatories and analgesics up until the point where he found himself hospitalised and on the brink of death with necrosis in both hips. As a result, Casal was wheelchair-bound for several months. He was admitted to hospital in August 1985 and after 19 days in the Intensive Care Unit, without food or water, four litres of infectious fluid was removed from his left leg. The original diagnosis of AIDS, was soon dismissed but priests had arrived with the intention of reading Casal his "last rites".
Following a long convalescence, Casal returned in 1987 with a cane and a new album, recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The album, entitled, Lágrimas de cocodrilo (Crocodile Tears), contained his own versions of other artist's songs but also some of his own original recordings. It was produced under the orchestral direction of Julián Ruíz and Andrew Powell, in charge of musical arrangement of Alan Parsons Project. The album's biggest success was the cover of Barry Ryan's "Eloise", which reached number 1 in Los 40 Principales (the Spanish Top 40) and became one of his best-known works. At the time (1988), his was the second biggest-selling album in Spain, behind Descanso Dominical by Mecano.
In October 1989, he released his last album, Histeria, which revisted the main themes of his musical career during the 1970s. After this release, Casal dedicated his latter years to painting and sculpting, in addition to collaborations with other artists. In May, Casal released a compilation album of his greatest hits, Etiqueta Negra, grandes éxitos, and had begun preparations to release another album in 1992, with the intention of recording in Tokyo.
Tino Casal died on 22 September 1991 in a car accident, aged 41. Casal was returning from a nightclub with three other people when, due to excessive speed, the driver of the Opel Corsa lost control of the car and crashed into a lamp post. Casal was sitting in the passenger seat and was the only fatality. Unsurprisingly, the news was a huge shock to the Spanish music industry.
A year later, EMI paid a posthumous tribute to Casal, by re-releasing the compilation album. Etiqueta Negra. Other artists, such as Alaska, Marta Sánchez and Stravaganzza have since covered and sampled his songs.