He was all that and much more. Regarding technique, he was not only amazingly fast (which, as stated is not that big a deal) but smooth, too. He used his strength and dexterity to make the guitar sound beautiful (“tone” is the word used by electric-guitar players). His harmonic palette was broad and his sensitivity to rhythmic nuances was extraordinary. His knowledge of traditional forms was deep and he took the work of his predecessors to new heights. He really was on top of the game in every single aspect.
His peers, without exception, always held him in the highest regard. One of the nicer things I remember reading took the oft-heard “he can’t be human” kind of comment even further by adding “he must have two or three hearts.” His responses in interviews are among the most interesting and intelligent that I’ve encountered. In one interview, he said that he was interested in philosophy when he was young but he gave it up because he thought it was making him lose his sense of humor (it somehow seems appropriate to mention this here on the SDMB).
I saw him in concert just once. As usual, he opened the show on his own, without the other members of his group. Everyone was standing and straining to get a better look at him. A teenage girl in front of me was sitting and staring at her mobile phone in the dark. Every other head in sight was trained on Paco, but this girl seemed only to be interested in her mobile phone. There might have been a good reason for this, but I got the impression that she didn’t really want to be there. About half an hour later, I noticed that she was on her feet, her mouth ajar and her eyes locked on Paco, like the rest of us. I thought that was a pretty good indication of his musical prowess.
No snark intended toward anyone, but forget that “Friday Night…” stuff with other guitarists and in other genres. All of his recordings are good, but “Fuente y Caudal” is among his best.