November 30, 2017 – Zé Pedro (Xutos & Pontapés) was born José Amaro dos Santos Reis on September 14, 1956 in Lisbon Portugal.
Times were difficult as Portugal suffered under a right wing dictatorship and personal freedom was of no consequence. Dictator Salazar is firmly in power and crushes anything that does not fit his agenda without mercy: including the arrival of rock and roll. Using his heavy handed censorship and ubiquitous secret police to quell any type of opposition, life in Portugal was a far cry from today’s laid back holiday atmosphere.
But rock and roll was driving the culture in much of the western world and Portuguese youth were no different.
In 1977 twenty year old Zé Pedro manages to visit the First European Punk Rock Festival in Mont de Marsan in the Southwest of France and comes back a changed young man. A couple of ads in papers later there is a band with the provisional name “Delirium Tremens” which quickly turns into Xutos & Pontapés, a clever wordplay on kicking a ball as in the national sport of soccer and recreational drug use.
Zé Pedros parqnt’s garage becomes the practice room and the first gig becomes reality in December of 1978 and a couple of weeks later they open for the Sparks at 3am with 4 songs in their repertoire. Portuguese rock and roll history is born.
The bandmembers keep their day jobs and they develop musical performance independence. Zé Pedro writes about music in the Lisbon Daily (Diario de Lisboa). By the end of 1981 they sign the much awaited recording contract and their first single Sémen quickly becomes a national success as it rises on the national charts. A second single follows and next is their first album which sadly flops as the musical direction is changing rapidly from punk and disco, to glam rock, hair metal and grunge.
Zé Pedro and his band fill up stadiums but can’t get the record company to produce. In 1986 they decide to take matters into their own hands and self produce a mini-album titled “Cerco”, which becomes a cult item and finally they sign a long term contract with Polygram (Universal).
On the national level the band now becomes unstoppable. Xuto & Pontapés ARE Portugal’s representation in the world of rock. The first album with Polygram goes gold and a single that follows goes platinum. Life concert Venues are sold out long in advance of the shows. Zé Pedro is rapidly turning into a national treasure.
Since the group plays rock and roll only in the Portuguese language, a world tour is limited mostly to Brasil and maybe the Philippines. Fact is that if you fly as high as Xutos were in the late 80s, the fall is unavoidable, because the market has too many financial limitation. The next early years into the 1990s were low points. But Zé Pedro and his compadres sat down and worked on their future and by the time 1994 came around they had another gold and platinum album and played more than 300 gigs for full houses, claiming their crown as the greatest Portuguese Rock and Roll band.
Next is a directional change to the “unplugged” movement that was introduced by MTV and again success is guaranteed by a hugely successful “Unplugged Tour”.
The last album for Polygram turns platinum and the second part of the 1990s moves the band into the field of movies and live shows. With enough variety of show types and venue sizes to fill, Xutos & Pontapés as well as Zé Pedro can pick and choose more after 20 years full speed.
Interchanging small tours with unplugged shows and live rock venues makes the life of a rocker on the road a bit more palatable. But in 2001 Zé Pedro gets sick and learns that he has contracted Hepatitus C.
In the following years they keep producing albums and singles with great regularity and in 2004 they receive National Recognition from president Jorge Sampaio. Triple platinum albums are now the norm for the band. All members do side projects but always work around the band’ needs and commitments. A biography of Zé Pedro becomes a book publishing success.
Towards the end of the first decade of the millennium the band receives accolades and honors form everywhere. A new beer brand named after them; a new motorcycle line dedicated to Xutos & Pontapés, new presidential dress and medals of honor; the brandname is on top of the world. Every record to launch gets multi-platinum sales.
But then in 2011, Zé Pedro needs a liver transplant and quits touring in May, but instructs the band to keep up the tour schedule, replacing him temporariy with his roadie Tozé. On July 7 he re-inserts himself into the live performance at the Optimus Alive Festival. The emotions of the crowd is out of control.
In October we find the band and Zé for a two months tour through Brazil, while Zé Pedro still finds time to edit his first solo album “Invited”.
And the next handful of years continue as they started with new albums, constant touring, a huge 35 Year Band Celebration, more endorsements, recognitions and awards.
But then on November 30, 2017, it all comes to a crashing halt as the news comes out that Zé Pedro has died from liver disease. A nation’s idol with boundless energy had found the end of his road and the nation mourned; in pretty much the same way neighboring France lost it’s rock and roll idol Johnny Halliday just four days later on December 4.