Antoni Miguel Cerveró, or Leslie, or Anxoveta.

If I had a broom, how many things would I sweep?

Let's start with the son of Anchovy. This magazine is read by the people from the Barrio. How do you remember your childhood?

I am privileged. I am the youngest of 5 brothers and I have 8 years with the fourth. The best thing that has happened to me in my life is to have been born in a family where I have only seen affection. My brother Anchoa, who had lived through the hunger of the post-war period, used to tell me when I got angry and didn’t want to eat, “First eat and then you can get angry, but first eat”.

Did you give much war to Mrs. Angeleta and Mr. Jaume?

I got along great and they always understood me. When I was 17 years old I needed my father’s permission to perform in Calella. My father asked me if I thought I was going to achieve something with this “drum and guitar”. I had already been a painter and apprentice jeweler, and I replied that I liked it. He looked at my mother and said, “Well, don’t ever say that your parents forbade you to do something you wanted. But I only ask you one thing: to be a good person”. And this advice I have tried to apply throughout my life.

That was a very different Barceloneta.

I miss going to the “Platjeta” to wait for my father to arrive from the sea. I remember going to throw stones with the gypsies of Somorrostro. When someone got hurt, we all went together to the Mayor’s office, they put 7 stitches and we returned to throw stones at each other. As we were all very close, we were all friends. Good people in general. Before, they were all from here. You knew them and you could warn them not to steal your things. Today even they are imported.

And then the VI Fleet arrived in Barceloneta, and the young Antoni was left speechless with this music of the Marines that he saw in the picnic areas.

In the Hawái, later Merendero de la Mari, I listened to songs by Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. The real rock and roll culture. All this dazzled me and with a group of friends we formed Los Meteoros. They were in the 50’s.

The day I heard a record by The Jonny Burnette and the Trio I was hooked. I offered the American 3 notes 25 pesetas to buy it. He looked at me contemptuously thinking “what is this charni saying”, but when he was not paying attention, I nicked the record. The song “El tren de la Costa” came out, the first song taught by the Sirex, inspired by “Train kept a Rollin”. 

In these times there were neither conservatory, nor singing or music lessons, nor triumphant operations. How did you do it?

At that time, we were all feral autodidacts. But us and Julio Iglesias, Raphael or Camilo Sexto. We never set foot in a conservatory, not even by mistake.

And then came the Sirex.

Guillermo (Rodríguez) and Manolo (Holgado) formed the Sirex in 1959. I, then 16 years old, started to go to Radio Barcelona to participate with my Meteoros in Joaquín Soler Serrano’s Show de las Dos. In Caspe Street there were queues of 800 people to get into the studio where there was barely room for 80. There I was seen by Los Sirex throwing me on the floor and singing A-van-babuluba. Pure show that was what I was interested in. Not to be the one who sang or played the best, but the one who put on the best show. Like another of my idols: Lola Flores. Of whom The New York Times said “She neither sings nor dances, but don’t miss her”.

The Sirex were throwing you the junk.

Yes, yes, but it was hard to convince them because I wanted my Meteors. I preferred to sing with my group of friends. But at that time there were 2 problems: girlfriends and the military. The girlfriends separated 80% of the groups and the mili the other 20%. And the Meteors were no exception. With the Sirex it was love at first sight. When I debuted with 17 years old in the Ya-Ya of Calella I already saw that this was my group and I was their singer. And in ’62 our first album came out: “Chica Bonita”. Which is the A-van-ba buluba in Spanish, commissioned by José Solá. 

You were the lyricist.

Do you know where I composed the songs? At the Club Viejo (C.N. Barceloneta). After a game of takata and a bite to eat, I would stay quietly sunbathing while the others went to work and I would compose.

This Leslie stuff sold more than Anxoveta?

At that time, we had an Italian in the group who taught us how to move on stage. One day he suggested a stage name and he shouted Leslie at me. I replied “your fucking mother”. Seeing that I was annoyed by the name, the bandmates kept repeating it to me and that’s how it stayed. 

Now when they ask me what my name is, I answer: in the Leslie music, in my neighborhood Anxoveta, I was baptized as Antonio and my wife tells me Oye tú. Hey you, do this, Hey you, do that.

We won't ask you about when you supported for the Beatles at the Monumental because Paul McCartney is not asked about when he played with the Sirex either. Is that OK with you?

That day we ate them. We didn’t stop moving and they were 4 cloistered nuns on stage. They weren’t our idols, nor did they influence us. The Sirex were before the Beatles and the Rollings.

Already as a singer of the Sirex...

Yes, but we had to go to the military service and the great Nacho de la Vega, who represented the Dúo Dinámico among other leading artists of the time, did not get out of the military service. Amés represents us and we start getting paid more than three times what we were paid by the mafia of representatives who represented the groups during those years. I don’t mention names because all of them have been dead for a long time. 

In 1970 Nacho took us on a 1-month tour of Latin America with Pepa Flores, Marisol, the star of the moment. It was a huge success, and the month went on and on and we were still there. My wife, pregnant in those days, didn’t even pick up the phone because she was so upset. I decided that I would go back even if I didn’t get paid. But Marisol, whom I admire with devotion, shouted at my wife and the two Pepas understood each other.

Until you decide to quit.

The day of San José of 71 we did a double, San Baudilio and Castelldefels, and when I arrived home at 4 am I told my wife that I quit, and I quit. No prior notice or goodbyes.

And to the "merendero" of the father-in-law.

Yes sir, serving paellas I was very happy. The “Merendero Cataluña” was a very naughty chiringito which sold a lot of art. Anecdotes with celebrities, thousands. 

Until one day Gay Mercader came along.

1978. The great promoter Gay Mercader passes by the place and tells me that we have to go back, that he was selling a whiff of 60’s revival worldwide that we couldn’t miss. I shouted to my colleagues and it turned out that they wanted to come back more than I did. Gay organizes the famous “See you later crocodile” festival with the Mustangs, the Cheienes, the Black Cats and us. Half an hour each group. A great success. In 1981 we recorded the album “Sirex, nothing more and nothing less”, a title that Àngel Casas gave us in an interview. A Crack! With songs like “Maldigo mí destino”, “Esto si que altera al cuerpo”, among others. We did 108 galas that year and 104the next one. Even doublets and triplets in one day. 

For a while the combination was Sirex and then Rompeolas. Part of responsibility with the baby boom if I say so.

No doubt. And now you know what happens to us at concerts with these kids of third or fourth youth…. They run out of blue pills in the pharmacies of the towns where we perform. Ya ya ya ya!

I take this opportunity while you're laughing to ask you what you and those of you who are now turning 80 have taken to keep you like this: Raphael, Mick Jagger....

At that time, we were opening some windows of fresh air and opportunities we were not willing to waste. We were very eager, and we wanted to do things. As the Argentine actor Luis Sandreni said, “we want to live as long as we can”. And this fresh air, in my case is music. For others it will be another passion. 

Whoever reads this should take note.

If I am doing what I like the most, which is singing, going out on stage and seeing people enjoy, do you think that I will give this up as long as I can do it? I will retire when my voice leaves me or when 4 people come to my concerts and turn their backs on me to ask for a drink. But in the meantime, listen to Sandreni.

You also touched on politics.

My father told me “it is better to be a cuckold than a mayor”. One is for life and the latter only for 4 years. But one day two people upstairs read the first color page published in Hoy, which was an interview with me presenting Barceloneta. One said to the other “it sells very well, it’s a pity it’s left-wing”. When the other said no, that he was a convergent, they came to sign me and Justo Molinero. We were the two most famous militants. One day, the person who recruited us was bragging about this and I told him “but you have given Justo a radio station” and he answered “but you have not asked us for anything”.

I joined the party because I was pissed off with what the City Council had done with the picnic areas and with all those who lived indirectly from theirs, such as the Market and other stores in the neighborhood. I was very hurt by the impotence of not being able to do anything. They did not compensate us. It cost me all my savings, the ones I had earned serving paellas and the ones I had earned singing the Escoba. A ruin. But the worst is to see my in-laws cry seeing how they demolished something they had fought for all their lives. 

The only person I am proud to have known in politics is Miquel Roca. Very great.

Let's change the subject. When will there be a street replacing an admiral as they have done with Rubianes.

Pepe would have shat in his street and in his fucking mother. The problem is the lack of culture. They make a good living as politicians, but they don’t know, among many other things, who Admiral Churruca really was. Look at who Cosme Damián Churruca y Elorza was and then tell me about it.

Will do. Wikipedia when I get home. Before I finish, a complaint: what have we ugly people done to you to wish us dead?

On the contrary. Just listen to the song. I say that they are bastards who take away all the girls because they work better.

A pleasure this time, Mr. Miguel...

Mister? You call me “you”, you bastard. I only talk per Mister to people I don’t respect. Look, one day the King, the other one, the funny one, in a reception asks, “who is this”. When they explain to him he comes and tells me “so you are the one with the broom”. And you Juan Carlos I answered him. 

And for you to see, I will give you an exclusive piece of news. Write it down. The Rocking Race Jamboree, one of the most important international festivals in the world is celebrated in Spain. In February 2024 will be the 30th edition. 5 days and 35 bands and only one is Spanish. Do you know which one? Los Sirex. Remember, February 2nd in Torremolinos.

A concert, a fan

Of the many anecdotes he tells us, I think these two illustrate very well the Anxoveta’s way of being. 

The concert

“I recently played one of the most special concerts of my life. When my 8-year-old granddaughter’s teacher found out that her grandfather was Leslie, she suggested I come to class. The theme wrapped up and we ended up my guitarist and I in an auditorium with 80 7- to 9-year-olds enthusiastically singing “the Broom” that the teacher had taught them. Goosebumps.”

The fan

“I’m on a terrace in Pueblo Nuevo. I’m tapped on the back and a 77-year-old lady tells me that she fell in love with her husband at a concert at Piscinas y Deportes when she was 18 years old listening to “Sin tus cartas” and since then the Sirex songs have been part of the soundtrack of their long and happy marriage. She asks me if she can give me a kiss and when I tell her husband they will cry with emotion. I give her a kiss for her and another one for her to give to her husband for me. I would have given her not two but a thousand kisses. There is no money in the world that can pay for a moment like that”.

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