Archive for July 25th, 2011


In the 1950 film “The Last Payador” as Jose Betinoti is dying he says to his friend Pascual Contursi, “us payadores are done, you were right, now the tango singers will take over”…Jose Betinotti passed away at the age of 37 from complications of alcoholism but in his short life he would compose over 100 folk songs many of which he recorded in the early Gramophone Disc first invented by Emile Berliner in 1889…he would disseminate his compositions through simple pamphlets starting with “Mis Primeras Hojas” which came out in 1909 …indeed it was Contursi with his “Mi Noche Triste”, publsihed in 1916, on the music by Samuel Castriota which is generally regarded as the first “tango cancion”, or Tango Song…it ushered in the new tango fashion although some payadores like the Ambrosio Rio would continue for another 15 years…Ambrosio was Betinotti’s best friend and it is said that Betinotti died in his arms…in the film Ambrosio would be played by singer Lito Bayardo who after a long career would kill himself with a gun shot to the head


Jose Betinotti, the son of poor Italian immigrants who settled in the neighborhood of Flores, had little education; he had to quit school to work….a payador of african descent Luis Garcia introduced him to the legendary payador Gabino Ezeiza, also of African descent, who invited him to sing in the circus where Jose began his career…his bohemian, romantic nature would endear him to the public…at the age of 18 Jose married a cigarette vendor who was devoted to him until the end; a child born to them passed away soon after its birth…after his death, with no estate to claim and with the memory of so much pain in her life, she returned to her simple job of  selling cigaretts……had  Jose Betinotti lived a little bit longer, like Carlos Gardel, he might have well transitioned to a tango singer…in 1948 a collection of his works was published, “Pobre Mi Madre Querida” after the name of his most famous composition…he was widely regarded as a humble and honest man; a poet once said of him, “he was the singer for mothers and pain” …paying homage to the payadores whom she always loved, the legendary Nelly Omar was to say, “it is because of them that I sing”