Died: June 24, 1935
Trivia: Gardel was nicknamed “El Zorzal Criollo” which means the “Creole Thrush”
Carlos Gardel was born at just the right time. The recording and motion picture industries were just starting to make their impact on the world. Gardel had movie star good looks and a sonorous baritone voice. His death occured at the peak of his career and popularity, at the age of 44 in a tragic accident. The world in general mourned; in Argentina and Uruguay he attained a cult status that exists to this day.
When asked, Gardel would only say that he was born at age 2½ in Buenos Aires.
Gardel’s mother, Berthe, was unmarried and his father did not recognize him. Berthe and Carlos immigrated to Buenos Aires in 1893. They lived in a poor part of town and Gardel spent his time in the streets; he dropped out of school in 1906 at the age of 15 and started singing in bars, festivals and private parties. ‘Carlos’ is the Spanish version of ‘Charles’ and around this time he changed his name from Gardes to Gardel.
Gardel Shot During Tango Tour:
For the next few years, Gardel toured the clubs and theaters of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. His most constant singing partner was Jose Razzano, a Uruguayan folk singer Gardel had met earlier during a singing match. He also recorded his first few albums for Columbia, using the acoustic recording process.
In 1915, after playing a club in Brazil, an argument broke out and Gardel was shot in the left lung, where the bullet stayed for the rest of his life. He took part of 1916 off to recover, but then actively resumed his career.
"Mi Noche Triste":
"Mi Noche Triste" was the hit song that sent Gardel skyrocketing in popularity. Based on music and lyrics by two other composers, the tango was about a pimp longing for his favorite whore. How was a song like this going to go over with the 'genteel' public?
Friends advised Gardel agains performing the piece; Rozzanno refused to participate, leaving Gardel to sing the tango alone on stage.
The public loved it; Gardel recorded it. "Mi Noche Triste" became the first recorded vocal tango, since tango was considered an instrumental genre, and the public eagerly grabbed the recording.
On The Road:
Gardel and Rozzano spent the next years touring through Latin America. In 1923, they left the continent and struck out for Europe, playing to a packed audience in Madrid, Spain. In 1925, Rozzano came down with throat problems and Gardel became a solo act.
A few years later, he made his debut in Paris and soon the tango was all the rage thoughout Europe.
Gardel composed many tangos had made hundreds of records for several recording labels when he decided to broaden his audience via motion pictures. He was signed by Paramount; his first full-length, talking feature was "Luces de Buenos Aires" and was the beginning of a film career that propelled him to global stardowm.
The Last Tour:
In 1935, Gardel decided to go on tour through the Caribbean and northern South America. On June 24, having stopped in Medellin, Colombia on his way to Cali, his plane was taking off when it veered and hit another plane on the runway. Everyone on board was killed.
Gardel may be gone, but he is far from forgotten.
Carlos Gardel Films:
- Flor de Durazno-silent (1917)
- Luces de Buenos Aires (1931)
- La Casa es Seria (1933)
- Melodia de Arrabal (1933)
- Custa Abajo (1934)
- El Tango en Broadway (1934)
- El Dia Que Me Quieras (1935)
- Cozadores de Estrellas (1935)
Listen to Carlos Gardel:
- The King of Tango, Vol 1 Prima Voce (1999)
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- The King of Tango, Vol 2 Prima Voce (1999)
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