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José Padilla, legendary Ibiza DJ and chillout pioneer, dies aged 64

The “godfather of chillout” died after a short battle with colon cancer 

José Padilla, a legendary Ibiza DJ known as the “godfather of chillout”, has died following a short battle with colon cancer. He was 64.

The balearic pioneer revealed in July that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and had launched a fundraiser to pay for his medical expenses. On Monday night (19th October), news of his passing was shared via an update on his Facebook page. It reads: “It is with great sadness that we bring you the news that José passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night here on his beloved island of Ibiza... Now he has gone and the sunset in Ibiza will never be the same without him, but the beautiful music of Jose Padilla will stay with us forever.”

Padilla pioneered the chillout DJ set via the Café del Mar compilation series, which began in the early ‘90s. The comps were based on the sunset sets he’d play from Café del Mar every evening, setting in motion an Ibizan tradition that continues to this day. 

Padilla moved to Ibiza from Barcelona in the mid-’70s, and ended up playing at Café del Mar from the turn of the ‘90s onwards — a pivotal time in the development of electronic music culture. The music he played in those extended Ibiza sunset sessions — from dub and downtempo electronica to lounge, ambient and beyond — became loosely characterised as ‘chillout’, and was foundational to the development of the balearic beat sound.

In the early days, Padilla sold cassette tapes of his sets directly from the club, before UK label React manufactured the first official Café del Mar CD compilation and kicked off the influential series. Padilla curated the first six annual chillout comps, before becoming an international touring DJ. He also released his debut album ‘Souvenir’ in 1998, and followed it up with ‘Navigator’ in 2001. He influenced a wave of chillout DJs who followed in his path, including Phil Mison, Lenny Ibizarre, Chris Coco, Pete Gooding, Mixmaster Morris, Sally Rodgers from A Man Called Adam, and Mark Barrott from International Feel, who released Jose’s last album ‘So Many Colours’ in 2015.

Tributes to Padilla have come from across the electronic music community, including from Café Del Mar, who wrote on Twitter: “José Padilla chilled a generation of clubbers and his art touched the lives of millions. He will always be remembered as the Godfather of Chillout, creator of Café del Mar compilations, and true Ibiza Legend.”