Archive for the ‘ Uruguay ’ Category

1964, November 25 – JULIO SOSA DIES IN CAR WRECK

Singer (born February 2, 1926, Aquarius) – his love of fast cars cost him his life, he was 38 years old and at the pinnacle of his career…awaiting him were plans for other films, tours of europe and south america; he was very much in love with a new girlfriend…in the 60s he was the only tango singer who could still command crowds; tango had by now passed from fashion and rock and rock was all the craze….he was born in Las Piedras, Uruguay to a dirt poor family; his father was a day laborer and his mother was a washer woman; Julio himself had to quit school while still very young and he worked at a large variety of menial jobs comforted by the tangos of Radio El Mundo, but in the evenings he would sing at local cafes for spare change; more than once the police would escort him out for he was underaged…the streets matured him quickly where the voice of Carlos Gardel inspired…his first marriage at 16 which all too soon ended….


His big break came one evening while he was singing at the Los Andes Cafe in Buenos Aires, lyricist Raul Hormaza happened to walk in and was impressed with the young, gaunt singer…an overwhelmed Julio found himself at the elegant Cafe Picadisi auditioning for Armando Pontier one of the most renown orchestras at the time…for Pontier he sang “Tengo Miedo” and that very evening he debuted in a borrowed, ill-fitting suit…but somegthing unexpected happened; people stopped what they were doing to actually listen to Julio sing whose gesticulating, emotional, stage presence was different and mesmerizing…in 1960 he published his book of poems, “Dos Oras Antes Del Alba (Two Hours Before the Dawn) whose stanzas revealed that beyond the strobe lights of success, somehow the pain of his childhood, like that of Tita Merello, had never really been erased from his soul




Singer (Sagittarius) – by the age of 18 she was already a professional actress on radio and theater, had made her first recording, had married, given birth to a daughter and was in the middle of a difficult divorce;…she was to have a long, highly successful career becoming the first female super star of tango and along the way enduring a series of seemingly never-ending mishaps…in 1935 she may have tried to commit suicide by jumping from a building, luckily an awning broke her fall and saved her life…born in Rosario Argentina, she was the daughter Gaudencio, a son of French immigrants (originally to Uruguay), who married a woman with six children; Libertad was their only mutual child…Gaudencio was a tinsmith by day and a cultured fiery political anarchist by night; in fact Libertad grew up in a household full of music, literature and fashionable ideas…


Gaudencio started his daughter in theater at the age of seven where she frequently acted in his own plays full of provocative  ideas…Libertad was beloved by the public and when she was 12, Gaudencio decided that she was ready for Buenos Aires and so he moved the tinsmith shop and the whole family there…with a letter of introduction in hand from a journalist she was given a small role in the famous Teatro Nacional; she never stopped working…she married a theater promoter with whom she had a daughter but quite soon she realized it was a mistake and she would seek a divorce…during the shooting of the film “La Cabalgata del Circo” she got into a  argument with actress Eva Duarte “Evita” whom myth states that she slapped and which resulted in Libertad being blackballed…Libertad, in her autobiography, would deny that she had ever slapped Evita and Evita woul later denied any involvement in  her being ostracized but nevertheless all avenues in Argentina were inexplicably closed to her….Liberta emigrated to Mexico where she was eventually adored and worship to such a degree that Mexicans considered her one of their own; in fact it was from this venue that she would become an internationally beloved star…the output in her career is mind-boggling, over 800 recordings, 65 films and even the screenwriter for her film “Ayudame a Vivir”…she died at the age of 92 in Mexico City while performing in a “telenovela”



For composer Lalo Echegoncelay, a struggling musician accustomed to zipping from gig to gig on his motorcycle trying to make ends meet, the fact that “Parece Un Cuento” was a smash hit, was a godsend…in fact it allowed him to devote himself exclusively to composing…he was born into a family of musicians in the neighborhood of Tres Cruces, Montevideo on May 31, 1911 (Gemini) and began as a child to study piano…at age 18 he began to play in orchestras around Montevideo…at age of 22, a piece that he had thrown together “Yo Soy Asi Pa El Amore” was sung by Tita Merello in the Argentina’s first sound movie “Tango”…he was known widely for his bigger than life smile and his kindness and generosity


Singer Julio Martel (born may 14, 1923 Taurus) had to have his mother sign his first contract for him for he was still  a minor…in a contest sponsored by Radio El Mundo seeking a vocalist for the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra in 1943, Julio was declared the winner out of hundreds of contestants and it was only months later that he recorded “Parece Un Cuento” which became his first hit and launched his fame; he was 21 years 1946 he signed an exclusive contract with the legendary radio show “Glostora Tango Club”…he was to have a long and successful career with Alfredo De Angelis and when he separated from the orchestra in 1951, he would deliver a tearful and moving speech of gratitude  which those attending that night would recall years afterwards…in his neighborhood of Munro he was a hero and on his 80th birthday a parade was held in his honor during which people tossed flowers and shouted greeting and encouragements from their balconies


  • CLICK HERE – to hear “Parece Un Cuento” composed by Lalo Echegoncelay, recorded by the Alredo De Angelis Orchestra with vocals by Julio Martel...the lyrics are the narration of a man who says, “like the fable that my mother used to tell me as a child, the arrival of your love was a beautiful dream and your loss was an inconsolable tragedy”


This controversial, handwritten will states, “First I am French-born in Toulouse, on December 11, 1890 and I am son of Berthe Gardes”… there had been no previous public notice that Gardel had any relationship with France whatsoever…on the contrary, when asked about his nationality, Gardel would repeatedly answer that he was Uruguayan, born in Tacuarembó…when he had obtained his first official identity document (“Constancia de nacionalidad”) in Buenos Aires on October 8, 1920, he declared to have been born in Tacuarembó to “Carlos and María, deceased”..several other documents stated the same thing including the charred passport found in his inner suit pocket when his body was pulled  from the airplane wreckage in Medellin, Colombia…in the deliberations that followed, an original birth certificate of a child born in Toulouse to Berthe Gardès on December 11, 1890 surfaced…following extensive deliberations on the matter, on April 14, 1937, the government of Uruguay declared Doña Bertha Gardés the universal heir of her son Carlos Gardel


In all likely hood he had done this to protect himself from the French government who at the beginning of World War I was sending draft notices to its citizens all over the world…Interesting, this was also the date of Gardel’s departure from Buenos Aires never to return alive Europe he made brief stops in Barcelona and Paris before traveling to the United States, to make a debut on the most important radio network in the world, NBC of New York…around this time would emerge the idea of a tour through Latin America; the one during which his plane would crash on the runway during takeoff and end his life tragically at the age of 40…in 1967 a group of previously unknown “relatives” surfaced claiming that Gardel had in fact been one Carlos Escayola Oliva born in the rural estate of Carlos Escayola Medina, in the Uruguayan department of Tacuarembo.


1921, October 26 – BIRTH OF CARLOS OLMEDO

Singer, Composer (Scorpio) – he died relativel young from a heart attack just when things were finally beginning to come together for him in his career and he left few recording but he was immortalized by some of his compositions which were made into great hits by other singers years after his demise…he was born in Departamento de Rivero, Uruguay but his family soon moved to the mythical Barrio Sur in Montevideo the home of two other tango pioneers Lagrima Rios and Modesto Ocampo…he began singing as a very young man with a voice which in time would be described by one critic as “he has the virtue of creating an intimate and delicate mood with his baritone voice”


At the age 19 he won a singing contest at the historic Cafe El Ateneo which launched his career…later with another young friend Julio Sosa, who himself would become a renown singer and die young in a car accident, moved to Buenos Aires to seek their fortune….an early break came when he sang at Radio Mitre leading to performances at the Cafe La Armonia where he was applauded enthusiastically by its demanding audiences …he sang with different secondary groups but unfortunately his  tenure with two great orchestras that of Osvaldo Pugliese and that of Anibal Troilo were very brief…singer Alfredo Belusi had great success with two of his compositions “Y No Le Erre” and “Lo Que Voz Te Mereces”; Roberto Goyeneche with his “Por Quererla Asi”and several singers with his “De Puro Curda”


1925, October 16 – LINNIG’S LAST BET

Poet – he was rushed to the hospital with a scorching fever and was lying on the bed surrounded by friends, when suddenly he smiled, looked up, pointed to the number 13 on the door and said “I have to bet on that”…it was however to be his last bet for minutes later, at the age of 37 he passed away…Samuel Linnig, born on June 12, 1888 (Gemini)  in Montevideo, Uruguay to a Belgian merchant and a Basque mother was a playwrite and theater critic for the prestigious magazine “Nosotros” …his passion and his ruination was to be gambling…he would be, in part, the inspiration thirty years later for “Lorenzo” in the classic film “Mercado de Abasto”


After the staging of a particularly bad play of his which had been roundly booed and hissed, he came on stage and addressed the audience, “I thank those who applaud and I regard as imbeciles those who whistled at me” …that evening he fled from the theater hidden behind a false beard which prevented the public who were waiting for him outside to identify him….he  was immaculate in his attire and manner, always sporting a cane and white gloves but particularly proud of demonstrating his command of the argot spoken by prostitutes…unfortunately gambling ruined most things in his life and he would have passed away forgotten except for one thing,  he wrote the tango “Milonguita” to the music of Enrique Francini…it was an instant hit and its world-wide, unceasing popularity from the day it premiere on May 12, 1920 at the Teatro Opera rendered his name immortal.


1924, September 26 – BIRTH OF LAGRIMA RIOS

Singer (Libra) – of mixed african descent, she was born to very humble surroundings  in Durazno, Uruguay…as a child she and her mother moved to “Barrio Sur”, Montevideo the legendary black neighborhood home also to two other pioneers of tango Modesto Ocampo and Carlos Olmedo…Lagrima would recall, as a child, having met Carlos Gardel in his celebrated visit there…for her entire life, through worldwide travels, she remained faithfully tethered to her candombe neighborhood…


She started singing at the age of 18 performing folk songs and tangos…in 1945 her first break came when she was invited to join the famous Alberto Mastra Trio…a series of kudos and awards  followed, culminating in important contracts for radio and night clubs…in 1960 she formed an a capella negro spiritual group “Brindis de Sala” which had great success for 10 years…critically acclaimed television appearances and european tours followed where she was especially active in anti racism campaigns…among her various personal tragedies, was an estrangement for many years from a beloved son, born out-of-wedlock, who had emigrated to Sweden