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I was born in Bogotá Colombia, the son of Gonzalo Merchán and Lilia Pinzon, from humble but hard-working origins. I lived and studied in Bogotá. 

My first approach to music was piano lessons when I was 13 years old, but in reality I dreamed of being a soccer player. 

But everything took an unexpected turn when I first heard Jimi Hendrix. It struck me in such a way that already at the age of 15 I had  the certainty of what I wanted to be in life: MUSICIAN.  


I sold everything I had and even stole ashtrays and chandeliers from my parents' house and a few suits from my dad to raise enough money for my first electric guitar. 


I learned a few chords and within a week I was playing with my band in a bar in Bogotá songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that started me in a musical career full of magic and work that has pleasantly brought me to where I am._cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


I played with local bands until I went to the United States to finish my high school and continue learning to play the guitar. I returned to Colombia in 1972 and formed Malanga with some of my best friends. We studied and played for a few years, but living in rock Colombia was much more difficult back then. 


I decided to go to England to try my luck and get away from the threat of drugs for a bit. I came to London in 1974. I was fascinated by English music and Europe held a great attraction for me. I was in London for a while, but it was a  very difficult time.


Sometimes I had no money, no job, no food and I missed my family and my people. So in the company of my friend Eduardo Meneses, we moved to  Cambridge, a friendlier city and where it is, to this day, the cradle of the best universities in the world.


I got a job painting an English school in exchange for a few classes and while I was there I got another job playing guitar every night in a restaurant. The money I earned was enough to pay the rent, buy food and after saving for a while I was able to secure a place at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, where I studied Music and Art History._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_


At that time I studied at the university during the day and worked playing guitar every night. Those were some of the hardest days I can remember, but I was able to study classical music, composition, conducting, arranging and much more.


I also  began to experiment with composition and wrote a few orchestral pieces and ensemble pieces. I won a contest with my string quartet Vientos del Sur, influenced by my favorite Impressionist classical music composers Debussy and Ravel. 


It was my first victory in Europe that filled me with pride since I had no previous training and I was only a Colombian in England.  I was studying classical guitar and also started double bass because the Cambridge University Orchestra only had room for bassists. 


I fell in love with the double bass and totally concentrated on it. Little by little I moved away from the music of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder to get closer to Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy and other classical and jazz composers of the contemporary period. 


I was fascinated by the seriousness with which classical music and jazz are presented and the improvisational aspects of jazz. I formed a few jazz bands and later joined the Cambridge Jazz Club, as resident bassist with my great friend and drummer Nic France.


We had to learn fast, but it was very exciting because we were playing with all the touring jazz musicians from England, America and Europe. I was becoming a well-known musician. I studied all the time and was totally immersed in music.


I lived exhausted, drinking coffee and falling asleep anywhere.


I  continued making an effort because I knew something good was waiting for me and only  I thought  that so much work had to take me somewhere. Thus came a very important project: The Trevor Kaye Quartet with which we won the best band contest at the San Sebastián Jazz Festival in Spain.


I finished my studies at Cambridge with my thesis on John Coltrane and received my Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduation, Nucleus, one of the most prominent electric jazz bands in England, offered me to play with them._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


In 1980 I joined the band and moved to London. Life in London was fantastic. He had a lot of work, up to three jazz concerts a day. I was learning a lot, studying and practicing all the time. 


Many times I played up to 14 hours a day and I was becoming a very good and versatile bassist. 


My biggest influences were Jaco Pastorius, Scott LaFaro and Ron Carter. My new band Macondo, after reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, became my special love because it became a vehicle to experiment with my compositions. 


It had a Latin flavor but was highly improvisational and had  heavy Weather Report influence. We participated and won a contest  against 200 bands from all over Europe and we were invited to the Montreaux and Monterrey Jazz Festivals.


He played a lot of acoustic jazz gigs but was starting to experiment with free jazz ensembles and electronic music. With Nucleus and Macondo, the tours around England and Europe continued. Around that time the most magical moments of my musical career occurred. 


I formed the band “Sunwinds” with my friends and excellent musicians Nic France, Dave DeFries and Mark Wood. We composed and developed a very exciting improvisational style. I was at the top of my musical level,  but I still had financial problems; I lived in abandoned houses that sometimes had neither water nor electricity.


The great songwriter and artist Thomas Dolby invited me to join his band as a guitarist. I was fascinated by the jazz of Miles, Coltrane and Bill Evans, but the idea of playing pop music and sleeping in 5-star hotels as well as earning more money pushed me to buy a guitar to play with the Dolby band._cc781905-5cde-3194- bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


We traveled the world and had an amazing time. Dolby's music was fantastic  to play live and the staging of the concerts was impressive. 


One night around those days, I was playing in a London club when the legendary guitarist Pete Townshend approached me and introduced himself saying that he played with the band The Who, that he liked the way I played and invited me to record something with them._cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_


I kept my composure and gave him the phone number. But as soon as he left the club, I started running and screaming like crazy. Pete Townshend was my Woodstock hero and the thought of being in the same studio recording with him was too much to hold back. 


I knew very well who The Who were for some years and I knew all their songs. We did some recording with Pete and in my first session I ended up playing guitar for the Scoop album. I started to become one of the most booked bassists in the London music scene. I played many concerts and had a lot of studio work. 


My great friend and drummer Simon Phillips invited me to audition for the band Pretenders, directed by Chrissie Hynde. 


They were at the height of their career and they chose me for the job. We started recording an album at Apple, the Beatles' studio. Those were fabulous days for me… from my home in Bogotá to recording at the Abbey Road studios in London was a very long journey. 


I bought my first apartment in a neighborhood in North East London called Willesden Green. Life was smiling. When we started recording with the Pretenders, the Nevado de Ruiz Volcano in Colombia erupted, taking over 25,000 people with it. Seeing all the images on television of this tragedy that was plaguing my country, I felt the call and understood that the time had come to do something for my people in Colombia.


The poverty, inequality and injustice that once drove me out of my country now brought me back. I worked day and night between recording sessions for the Pretenders' Get Close album, organizing a concert for the volcano victims in Armero . I borrowed money and put mine to rent the Royal Albert Hall in London. 


It was called the Colombian Volcano Appeal Concert. I went to my famous friends, Chrissie Hynde and Pete Townshend who  immediately offered their help. Chrissie invited Annie Lennox and Pete invited David Gilmour.We all worked very hard for what was the happiest day of my life.The concert was a huge success and we raised a lot of money for charity._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_


We built a school, a sports center and a brick factory to help many of the victims of the disaster. This marked the beginning of the  charitable foundation which to this day has become an everyday and very important part of my life. My love and gratitude to Annie Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Dave Gilmour and Pete Townshend. 


Without them I would not have been able to do it. Also the biggest thanks to Jill Bowen, who helped me tirelessly with the organization of the concert and the charity. We became great friends until his death a few years ago. I hope he's watching us from somewhere.

Chucho Merchan
Chucho Merchan

After working together very well during the concert for Colombia, Annie Lennox called me a few weeks later inviting me to join the Eurhythmics to record an album and go on a world tour. It was very contradictory what was happening to me. I had to choose between two of the best paying bands in the world.


I eventually settled on the Eurhythmics and a musical relationship of 8 years.  We went on a world tour twice, we played in the most important concerts and we had a delicious time. I became great friends with Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart and we continue to maintain that friendship to this day. 


We had the chance to meet Princess Diana and Prince Charles of England, very kind and down-to-earth people, during the benefit concert for Prince Charles's charity in London. We also played at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert, held at Wembley Stadium in London, which was seen by more than a billion people in more than 60 countries around the world. During the ten hours of concert attention was focused on the evils of the apartheid regime and especially on the indefinite imprisonment of the recognized leader of the South African majority. 


The excitement generated by the concert led to increased political awareness, and Mandela was released shortly thereafter. This news brought me to tears of emotion. Nelson Mandela has had a great influence on my life and in my opinion he is the perfect political leader. Clean mind, intelligent, friendly, affectionate and highly educated, with a great vision and one of the great promoters of the policy of non-violence. 


I also participated in the organization of the concert A day for Tibet (A day for Tibet) in 1996 pressing for the liberation of Tibet from the Chinese government. I had the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama, who in 1959, after the Chinese government's repression of the Tibetan national uprising, was forced to seek asylum in India.


As a leader of Tibet in exile, he worked tirelessly not only for the benefit of the Tibetan people, but also for human rights in the world. Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1989 and today universally recognized as one of the most prominent spiritual leaders in the world. 


His teachings have always been compatible with my own beliefs; he taught me the importance of the pursuit of happiness and compassion. He is my spiritual guide. The musical activity did not stop. I was touring and recording sessions, but at the same time   I was continuing my work with Pete Townshend.  


One of the fondest memories I have was when Pete appointed me as music director for his band Deep End. We were 13 musicians, with the best possible standard. Pete, David Gilmour and Simon Philips in the same band and I was directing them. I was flying high and happy for such company. 


There is a live album and video from those concerts called Deep End Live. With Pete Townshend I was also playing at Woodstock for their 25th anniversary celebration. Once again, I was happy and honored to be there, especially for Pete, who played the first Woodstock concert. This concert changed the direction of the music scene at that time, because it showed the world the power of music and that the motto of peace and love of the hippie movement was a true and solid proposal for the youth and for the world._cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

It also gave me the opportunity to arrange strings and conduct the London Symphony Orchestra for one of their albums, Iron Man. While recording a Dave Stewart solo album, I had the tremendous opportunity to meet and record with him. great former Beatle, George Harrison, with whom we later became good friends and frequently invited me to parties and dinners he gave at his house and where we spent very special moments  in the company of his wife Olivia and his son Danny. 

He was one of the kindest, warmest, most beautiful people I have ever met. His humility made him even greater than he was. He was the first musician to organize a charity concert to help the people of Bangladesh. I really miss him a lot. Let me tell you a story: I was once taken to prison in England because I had a machete in the car that I had to defend myself after I was attacked by criminals in South London, but doing that was totally illegal. So I was locked up for a few hours, until a guard came to tell me that I could leave and that there were no criminal charges against me. 

In the midst of astonishment I asked the policeman why they let me go. He told me that some famous people had come to get me out and that they wanted to avoid scandal. I asked him who they were and he said that George Harrison and Pete Townshend had interceded for me. Another great story is when Chrissie Hynde invited me to hear Paul McCartney's new oratorio. Chrissie was very good friends with Linda McCartney and all of us were vegetarians and worked for the respect and rights of  animals. 


At the end of the oratory Chrissie told me that Paul invited us to his house for lunch. We got to the house before Paul, and when the doorbell rang I opened the door and it was him. He asked me who I was. I told him that it was Chucho, a friend of Chrissie's and that he was welcome to his house. He laughed and then took me to meet her. 


He showed me the upright piano on which he had recorded Maybe I'm Amazed from his first solo album and told me many Beatles stories. Then we went to the garden where he had a round glass room and he showed me a round bed that belonged to Groucho Marx and had been a gift from Alice Cooper to him. 


I sat there for a while and I was happy because I loved Groucho Marx. He told me that they spent a lot of time in that room with the Beatles in his day and that they used it to experiment with LSD. While we were there, Linda came in asking if it was okay with me if they had a marijuana joint. 

Chrissie smiled telling her that I was Colombian. When they turned it on, the aroma was so  familiar that I told Linda that it smelled exactly like the marijuana that grew in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and she, nodding her head, confirmed that it was from there, and that he also had 2 kilos. At the end of the night, Paul rolled another cigarette and gave it to me as a gift. 

I put it in my pocket thinking that this was the most special gift I had ever been given, so I told Chrissie that I wanted to put it in a glass box with an inscription that said “From Paul McCartney to Chucho”. She told me not to be such a fan; I take the cigarette from my hand and smoke it. 

There was Paul's gift up in smoke. While playing with Pete I became good friends with David Gilmour and recorded a few sessions for him. I was offered the organization of a concert to perform in Colombia that would promote an ecological summit and with the power of music, I immediately committed to the idea. 


I took Dave Gilmour, Roger Daltrey, Phil Manzanera and other artist friends to Colombia, but the concert was a total and complete disaster. It is a long story to tell and very sad to be remembered. My friends went to Colombia to help us and we failed them. Gilmour told me “Chucho, I love you very much, but I will not return to Colombia again”. 

I went through a very big depression that lasted 4 months until I recovered and I promised myself to continue working to help my people in Colombia. I learned that one cannot let so many bad experiences and negative people in this world damage their heart and good disposition towards life. 

Colombia has a small percentage of people who have given the country a terrible reputation,  but in reality Colombia is a wonderful place, with hard-working, incredibly warm and friendly people, majestic landscapes and extensive sources of natural wealth, and a great variety of wonderful food. 

After spending 25 years in England, I began working with Hispanic artists such as Fito Paez, Luz Casal, Miguel Ríos, Armando Manzanero and Robi Draco Rosa. Throughout my life I dedicated my spare time to writing and recording my own songs because I wanted to build my career as a soloist. 


They rejected me many times arguing that my lyrics were not commercial, that I should sing in Spanish and maybe change my style. 

I eventually stopped knocking on record company doors because it bothered me that these people told me what my music should be like. They probably didn't tell Bob Dylan how to write songs or Picasso what colors to wear, and although I can't compare myself to them, my music and my musical character also deserve  respect, and I preferred to keep my Free songs from the  opinions of record companies and money factories.      _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-1356d

The desire to be an artist is something that is carried inside, something that one has to do above what others say and that when it sprouts one has no control over it. It simply is. So it is a commercial success, or it is not and it is done for pure pleasure. Vincent Van Gogh never sold a single work in his lifetime and now his paintings sell for incredible millions of dollars.  In 1998 I felt the call to return to Colombia and what better excuse to return to Latin America than the offer of Saúl Hernández, my friend and brother, to join his band Jaguares, with whom I was on tour almost two and a half years in Mexico and the US. I realized how much I missed the culture and humor of Latinos and that it was time to return to Colombia to make my dream of recording my own albums come true, _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_work more closely with Foneva, my charity foundation, and where surely my life would have more value than in England for all that there was to do. So I decided to pack my house in London and with my 3 cats we  returned to Colombia after 30 years of living in Europe. 

I bought land on the outskirts of Bogotá and built a house and a recording studio. I also started working as a producer with Colombian artists like Los de Adentro and Cabas. It is wonderful to be back in Colombia, close to my beloved mother and surrounded again by my family and childhood friends. 

I have reached a point of intersection in my life, because I have already recorded albums with the songs that I have written all these years  and with my own financing, everything collected always goes directly to Foneva to continue helping those who need it the most and of course, provide the help that you can to the fight for animal liberation that sometimes seems unattainable.

I currently live in my country house, with all my animals, competing for the title of the happiest man on Earth. Right now I am materializing one of the biggest dreams of my life, my animal album "Revolución de Conciencia", where I express different thoughts and emotions that reverberate in my life daily and that was therefore so important _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_translate it into what I like to do the most, music. I hope that with this new album, the declaration of my dream for a better world, through love and compassion, and as always, my manifesto for respect, will be understood once again.

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