Archive for the ‘ Guitarist ’ Category

1996, November 19 – JULIO RELEASES “TANGO”

Tango” became Julio Iglesias’ number one set album on Billboard Top Latin Albums and that same year won  the World Musica Award…in 1998 it was awarded a nomination for a Grammy Best Latin Pop Album; his competition included his own son Enrique for his album “Vivir”…it is comprised of 12 of tango history’s top classics including “La Cumparsita”, “A Media Luz” composed by Edgardo Donato and  “El Choclo” composed by the fascinating Angel Villoldo…one critic said of the album “Iglesias’ emotional commitment to these 12 songs is palpable, he involves himself so completely in every song that one is almost surprised he can walk away from one song to begin the next”…Julio has sold over 260 million records worldwide in 14 languages and released 77 albums; he is one of the top 10 best-selling music artists in history.


Julio (born September 23, 1943, Virgo), is the son of a Galician physician who had fought for General Franco during the Spanish Civil War and a jewish mother…Julio was a professional soccer player when a truck ran him off the road and his car flipped… after 14 hours of surgery he awoke completely paralyzed from the waist down…with iron will determination and the devotion of his father, Julio pursued rehabilitation and was eventually able to move again…to pass the time he would play guitar and thus, relatively late in life, discovered his love of singing…his career was launched in 1968 when he won the Benidorn International Song Festival with “La Vida Sigue Igual” …interestingly, while a car accident launched the singing career of this Julio, it  ended the singing career of another one, the legendary Julio Sosa in 1964…meanwhile the father of Julio Iglesias, at the age of 86, married 37-year-old african american Ronna Keitt and the couple had two children; he passed away 8 days after the birth of his second child at the age of 90…Julio says of his singing, “My goal is to make people dream…I seduce them but I must seduce myself first.”




 The lyrics of  “La Abandonè Y No Sabia” are in effect a tango within a tango; a story within a story…a man narrates the lyrics of a tango which describe the pain of the love he lost and his hope to see her again someday…both the music and the lyrics were written by Jose Canet….Jose had fallen in love with the guitar at age 12 when he heard Ignacio Corsini sing on the radio…Piero Hugo Fontana, his friend and fishing partner, would grow up to become the renown singer Hugo Del Carril…Jose Canet  grew up in the neighborhood of La Paternal, Buenos Aires…at the age of 18 he had his first professional gig when he was asked to join the group that backed up singer Santiago Devin…he was then recruited for the Radio Stentor staff to back up Fernando Diaz and Dorita Davis…one evening, after a radio performance he happened to meet singer Alberto Gomez with whom he would tour throughout South America…it is on one of those tours that he composed his most famous tango “La Abandonè y No Sabia” in 1943 in Santigo Chile


The legendary Troilo said of Oscar Alonso, “after Gardel, he was the best tango singer; of this there is no doubt”…born in the country side, his father was a herdsman who, interestingly was cited by name by Ricardo Guiraldes in his novel  ”Don Segundo Sombra”…when Oscar was 14 the father moved the family to Buenos Aires…two years later he had his first singing job at a  busy cafe where, a customer would recall years later, his first tango had been “La Ultima Copa”…In 1929, through a loyal customer, he got his first break when he was invited to sing at radio station “La Voz del Aire”…doors opened for him including a stint at the legendary Cafe Nacional where it is said that Gardel performing at a theater next door, upon hearing him sing, predicted a good future for the young man…his career however was to be uneven, there were periods when he would disappear; perhaps it was the ready glass of whiskey in hand…on a long tour of Latin America, he discovered aspecial love for Cuba about which, in his waining years, he loved to tell tales.



He was a tough Steve McQueen type hollywood character…having grown up on the streets of Quirguinchos, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina he was prone to settle arguments with his fists…with his low hoarse voice and his love of women, race cars and whiskey on the rocks he cut quite a figure and yet he lived with his mother and ironed his own pants…he dropped out of school to work in a series of menial jobs but he loved to sing…prodded by friends, he began singing in local bars and cafes where to his astonishment he was rewarded and encouraged by the patrons…at age 17 he made his debut in the city of Rosario with the Quarteto Los Ases (Aces Quartet) but his big break came when he was recruited by the Raul Bianchi Orchestra with whom he made his first recording “Te Presenti”…his best years however were with the Jose Basso Orchestra with whom he recorded “Recordandote” on September 27, 1957…


He would later also sing with Osvaldo Pugliese and Alfredo De Angelis…”Recordandote” was composed by the ill-fated guitarist Guillermo Barbieri….Barbieri first met Carlos Gardel at a party to celebrate the victory of a race horse which led to an invitation to be part of his back up group…half of his compositions were recorded by Gardel including “Viejo Smoking” and “Cruz De Palo”, “Rosas De Otono”, “Anclao En Paris”…on January 12, 1935 he boarded the ship “Panamerican” to join Gardel not realizing that it was to be his last; he would perish at the age of 41 with Gardel in the tragic airplane crash in Medellin just a few months later…the lyrics to “Recordandote” were written by Jose De Grandis about whom little is known other than he died young at age 44…he was a violinist who worked with a number of singers including Roberto Goyeneche…he is best known for the tango “Amurado” which was recorded by Pedro Maffia and Pedro Laurenz



French newspapers in 1925 were ecstatic about Carlos Gardel…Le Figaro waxed with child like enthusiasm, “his consumate artistry…his magnetic charm over the public…perfectly cadenced”…his photo graced the cover of the magazine “La Rampe” in a luxurious end of the year edition…Gardel was stunned by his success and almost incredulously he wrote to a friend, “I am living like a millionaire in the best hotel in the best neighborhood”…Gardel was more than happy to oblige his fellow countryman and mentor Paul Santolini when he asked him to perform at a charity event at the Femina Theater to help the victims of the Island of Guadaloupe…it had been ravage by the 165 miles per hour winds of the famous 1924 “Cuba Hurricane” the earliest officially classified Category 5 Atlantic hurricane…interestingly, it was at a charity event to help victims of an earthquake that “Evita” first met Juan Peron


Among the performers at the Femina Theater that evening, was the great Josephine Baker…growing up abandoned and in abject poverty in the slums of St. Louis, she left school at the age of 12 to work in a series of menial jobs, surviving in makeshift cardboard shelters…her street corner dancing attracted attention and at the age of 15 she was recruited to dance in a vaudeville show…she found success in New York Harlem’s dynamic night club scene and eventually she was invited to Paris where her exotic looks and erotic dancing captured the imagination of the public…beloved by the French public, she became famous and rich at a time when she would be denied entry into a restaurant in her own country…her love of France was such that during World War II, at great personal risk, she used her notoriety to spy on the Nazis…she would become the first American woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix De Guerre…she was a mentor and inspiration to tango and jazz guitarist Oscar Aleman, one of the greatest entertainers in Argentine history…among her numerous lesbian lovers was the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo…Ernest Hemingway would call her “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw”



Singer, Lyricist, Actor (Virgo) – frail and 84 years old, with a serene face and in his last breath, he said, “I have walked upon the roads of tango…I have lived it with body and soul…It is who I am”…his only regret was not being able to see for the last time his beloved city of Rosario, Argentina which laid 35oo miles away from Caracas where he spent his last years…he remembered his mother sewing and sighing; she had died young and he had had to quit school to help support the family…his father, a municipal laborer and part-time trainer of fighting cocks had always encouraged his musical talents…in time Agustin Irusta would come to know the delights of fame and fortune traveling the world singing tango; indeed, perhaps no other tango singer had success in as many countries as he did..acting in school plays, he had developed a passion for singing and acting; a mentor later on would advise him to devote himself to singing…his first forays among the public happened in his neighborhood bars and cafes where he sang for donations; one of his early breaks came when the fiery anarchist Lorenzo Lamarque, the father of Libertad Lamarque, asked him to join his theater company


Later on, at Radio Cultura, his singing was backed up by a temperamental young pianist, Carlos Di Sarli…at the age of 23 he made his first recording with another young singer, Roberto Fugazot…the turning point in his life, occurred when Francisco Canaro invited him to come to Paris to sing with his orchestra; Agustin never forgot the magical moment of laying eyes on a city which at the time was the center of the cultural and artistic world, “I could not belive that it was me…it was bigger than my imagination”, he was to write in his memoirs…there fate led him to inadvertently team up with Roberto Fugazot and Lucio Demare to create the legendary “Trio Argentino” which was to have great success for many years…besides having lived in Paris and Barcelona, he lived in Mexico for four years where he was beloved by the Mexican people…his talent eventually took him to New York for long remembered appearances at the Latin Theater…he starred in a number of movies including the beloved “Ya Tiene Comisario El Pueblo”, “Puerta Cerrada” and “La Guitarra De Gardel”…he was the lyricist of highly popular tangos including “Dandy”, “Tenemos Que Abrirnos”, and “Mananitas de Montemartre




Oscar Aleman, composer of “Guitarra Que Llora”, was one of the greatest entertainers which Argentina has ever produced…his complex talents; guitarist, singer dancer, entertainer made him a bit Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis Jr. and even Eddie Cantor…although in his career he became a world renown jazz musician he made substantial contributions in tango….he was born to an African Argentine father and a Toba indian mother…the Tobas were a proud, fierce, hunter gatherer native group which inhabited  parts of what today in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay….Oscar’s father was a musician whose group consisted of himself and part of his seven children; Oscar was six years old when he began performing in public….while working in Brasil, Oscar’s father committed suicide sending the family into deep crisis….but Oscar was a musical prodigy and self-taught in the guitar; his career would take him to Europe where he remained fot 10 years working with the legendary Josephine Baker who was a singer, dancer and World War II spy…Oscar eventually learned to sing in six languages


Although more of a folk singer, Agustin Magaldi was immensely popular especially with the more humble country audiences…brought up in an italian immigrant family with a strong tradition in opera, he started his career as an opera singer…he was born in the city of Casilda in the province of Santa Fe…in 1923 he moved to Buenos Aires to begin a career as a folk and tango singer helped along the way by Rosita Quiroga…he was the “estribillista” singer in the recording studio for the Donato-Zerillo  and Osvaldo Fresedo Orchestras…for 10 years he and Pedro Noda formed a renown and highly popular duo but in 1935 Magaldi launched a solo career…his most successful song was a Russian ballad, “Nieve” which was highly requested on Radio Belgrano



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”