The truth is that among thousands of artists called “yeta” or “mufa”, the Argentine artistic community unanimously recognizes only one “Holy Protector”: Osvaldo Pugliese. The famous tango player is a great protection for artists, especially from the world of Argentinian rock.
Already in life he was considered a “good luck charm” and he knew it, in a way: he called himself “The people’s talisman”.
A photo of Pugliese is hung in many dressing rooms, or well, the rockers carry in their wallets a small stamp with their face.
There are many accounts of supposed little miracles attributed to him: that the light return in the midst of a blackout in full concert, a lost instrument appears just by saying the name of the saint, or to solve computer problems (the recording technician Sergio Paoletti affirms that when a machine in his studio hung up and threatened to format all the material, he fixed it by renaming all the files like “Pugliese”).
You have to pronounce Pugliese, Pugliese, Pugliese before starting a show.
A possible start…
It is said that during a Charly Garcia (Argentinian singer-songwriter) concert, a number of situations and technical problems delayed the start of the show. The sound was not working well, until someone tried the sound system with a Pugliese’s CD. Everything started to improve, and Charly gave his show.
With some variations, but always alluding to rock, this is how the legend of Pugliese “totem” was born.
There is also a prayer
“Protect us from everyone who does not listen. Save us from the mufa of those who insist on the national chicken leg. Help us to enter into harmony and enlighten us so that misfortune is not the only cooperative action. Take us with your mystery towards a passion that does not break bones and does not leave us in silence looking at a bandoneon on a chair”. In the name of Osvaldo Pugliese.
He was born on December 2 of 1905 in the Buenos Aires in the neighbourhood of Villa Crespo, into a family of musicians. His father, Adolfo Pugliese, played the flute in some local ensembles, essentially in quartets. Two of his older brothers, Vicente Salvador and Alberto Roque, were also musicians.
Adolfo, his father bought him a violin with which he was sent to the Odeon Conservatory of Villa Crespo. But in this place, he found the instrument that would be part of his life: the piano.
He began to play professionally at the age of 15, in the “Café de La Chancha”, name given to it in reference to the poor hygiene of its owner and the place. After some time, he joined the ensemble of the first bandoneonist woman, Francisca “Paquita” Bernardo.
Going on with his career, Osvaldo entered Enrique Pollet quartet, later he played in the famous Roberto Firpo orchestra, and in 1926 he was pianist in the great bandoneonist Pedro Maffia’s orchestra.
He remained with Pedro Maffia from 1926 to 1929, when he teamed up with the violinist Elvino Vardaro forming a group under the name PUGLIESE-VARDARO, which we know was avant-garde for the time. Sadly, it has not left recordings.
Vardaro-Pugliese had their debut at the café Nacional, to then commence a long tour across the country. They were accompanied by the poet Eduardo Moreno, as manager and Malena de Toledo, as female singer. Moreno was the lyricist of “Recuerdo”, the most successful tango composed by Pugliese. The tour turned out a financial failure and Vardaro had to pawn his Sartoris bow to pay the return tickets.
Then, he also joined the brand-new orchestra formed by Gobbi, and later went through the ensembles of Daniel Alvarez, Roberto Firpo and Miguel Calo, until in August 1939 he appeared with his definitive group in the “El Nacional” café of the Corrientes street.
Amadeo Mandarino was the singer of the orchestra. Augusto Gauthier was later joined as vocalist. In the 1940s, he recorded some of his own instrumental tracks such as “La yumba“, “Negracha“, “Malandraca“, “Recuerdo”, “La Beba”, “Adiós Bardi”, “Barro”, “Once” and “El encopao”.
In 1943, with the incorporation of Roberto Chanel, Pugliese’s orchestra acquired its own vocal definition; tough singer, with nasal sound and compadrito style. To achieve a contrast, Pugliese included Alberto Morán as vocalist because of his dramatism, sensuality, his rare quality for the mezza voce and perfect match with the orchestral accompaniment.
That year he recorded his first album.
His first tango, “Recuerdo“, from 1924, is one of the most important Tangos in history.
Troilo said that “Recuerdo” was the tango that he would have liked to compose. Julio De Caro described it as “one of the works of art of our tango that will last forever”.
Through years, Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra was banned for broadcasting as a means of political censorship but it did not succeed in diminishing his popular acceptance.
Such was his artistic status that in 1985 he achieved what no one had done until then: on December 26 of that year, to celebrate his 80th birthday, his orchestra played at the well Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
Osvaldo Pugliese died on July 25, 1995 in Buenos Aires.