Charo talks 'Cuchi-Cuchi' ahead of March 31 McCallum Theatre performance

When Spanish guitarist and singer Charo was growing up, she desperately sought to be the female Andrés Segovia. Instead, she became known for the ‘70s pop song “Cuchi-Cuchi” — and she’s OK with that.

The pop-culture melange of Charo's zestful personality and “Cuchi-Cuchi” still resonates to this day, and she said the song “showed me the way to the bank.” But even though Charo is a classically trained guitarist and has been playing flamenco music since she was 9, she is often overlooked for her talent of the instrument.

“The image I created is still going, and I overcame that pain,” Charo said. “When people hear me play a guitar solo, they’re like, ‘I can’t believe it. I didn’t know she plays guitar.’ Thank God for social media where I can play guitar and teach my style of Flamenco. I don’t use a pick and use all the fingers on my right hand. But the majority only think of ‘Cuchi-Cuchi.’”

Charo will perform on March 31 at the McCallum Theatre.

As Charo continued to make music during the '70s and '80s, she also became a TV star as a regular guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and via appearances on shows such as “Chico and the Man,” “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” “Fantasy Island” and more.

“I didn’t know what to do at the time and came to America so I could make money to eat. Thanks to Johnny Carson and others, I became popular, and people such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and more invited me onto their shows. It was beautiful. They invited me to do anything because of my strong image, and the new generation is discovering it,” Charo said.

Charo will perform at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Calif., on March 31, 2023.
Charo will perform at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, Calif., on March 31, 2023.

One of the benefits of her success was a friendship with Elvis Presley, which has been well-documented, but Charo said there was "no 'Cuchi-Cuchi'" with the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

“(The 2022 film “Elvis”) is close to reality, but Elvis was more than that,” Charo said. “He and Priscilla (Presley) became good friends to me and my sister, Carmen. Elvis was a gentleman, and a lot of people don’t know that. While I was working at the Sahara in Las Vegas, I would always say to the audience, ‘Don’t forget to see the King of Rock, the one and only Elvis Presley.’ It came to his attention and he sent me a lot of flowers.”

During live performances, Charo said she likes to play “Cuchi-Cuchi” early in the set and said the audience she enjoys in the Palm Springs area is similar to her fans in Las Vegas.

“I say ‘OK, ‘Cuchi-Cuchi’ is over, I made money to pay my bills and now I’m going to play my guitar for you and play ‘Concerto De Aranjuez.’” They know what I’m talking about and it’s a beautiful number.”

If you go

What: Charo

When: 8 p.m., Friday, March 31

Where: McCallum Theatre, 73-000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert

How much: $45 to $85

More information:

Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @bblueskye.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Charo talks 'Cuchi-Cuchi' ahead of McCallum Theatre performance