50 years ago, Tanguito died and Argentina's first great rock legend was born

50 years ago, Tanguito died and Argentina’s first great rock legend was born

With barely five years of life, the argentinian rock He was already going to have a martyr who would allow him to build his first great myth, when on May 19, 1972, a train knocked down José Alberto Iglesias, a 26-year-old young man with physical and mental health undermined by drugs and electroshocks received at the Borda Institutefrom which he had escaped, but that years ago, under the pseudonym of Tanguito he had been part of a group of artists who gave life to the local movement.

The co-writing with Litto Nebbia of “La balsa”the Argentine rock’s first big hit; some legends forged around him and the scarcity of phonographic discs gave this artist the necessary mysterious aura which, added to some “misunderstandings” that were reproduced and gained prominence thanks to a controversial film, constituted a epic story that turned Tanguito as a symbol of misunderstanding and rebellion.

Although it did not occur immediately after his death and a fictional script was needed to make sense of it – based on inaccuracies or half-truths – Tanguito was held up as the personification of the free, combative, rebellious, talented and unyielding spirit that guided the beginnings of local rock culture..

The contrast of this construction with the stories of those who knew the artist exposes certain contradictions that fill with questions those who have opted for the literalness of the mythical. To doWas Tanguito a genius or would he have been unable to write a song without help? Was he a rebel or just a reckless drug user? Was he persecuted? Was he a victim for not bowing to the system?


“These questions are the questions. I sincerely believe that they have no answer. What it seems to me, in the frame where everything is a big figure, that there is room for this idea that I say that the 1960s in Argentina are in May 1972, when the train killed Tanguito. Those 60s of colors, the miniskirt, the birth control pill and Bob Dylan ended that day in Argentina“, ventured the journalist Víctor Pintos in Télam, author of “Tanguito, the true story”, the most complete investigation into the life of the legendary artist.

When repeating a definition of the real dimension that Tanguito has in the history of Argentine rock, the journalist wrote: “With ‘La balsa’ it’s as if he had given the ball to Maradona on the day of the goal against the English. He didn’t score the goal. The goal was scored by Litto Nebbia, but the one who gave him the ball was Tanguito“.

What the author of the artist’s biography was able to certify is that “Tanguito is a myth because a train killed him at the age of 26, especially in a city like Buenos Aires, so inclined to buy mythical figures”. “but rock -he added- he has a Gardel in Tanguito, only he has never made films in the United States“.

“Tango means different things to different people, typical as it happens with any hero or character, that people put their things into it. So for a lot of people, tango is the real alternative, the only one that doesn’t not sell. This idea was exploited that it is not real”, warned this agency his friend Pipo Lernoud, central actor of the beginnings of Argentine rock.

The Raft – The Cats 1967 Litto Nebbia

In this sense, the journalist, poet and activist brought some nuances to the different characteristics that make up the legend of Tanguito, although he did not minimize the impact of his work on the beginnings of Argentine rock.

The tango is very important. There is no Litto without Moris, there is no Moris without Tango and there is no Litto without Tango, because the three have influenced each other“, revealed Pipo, who also warned that “he spoke little, he read nothing, he was not an expert in music, so the things he liked he absorbed and that was all“.

Speaking of his characteristics as a musician, he recalled that “he didn’t compose the songs, he played guitar all the time and improvisedthe songs did not begin or end, and it was very difficult for him to build up a repertoire to play in public”.

Protagonist of this scene, the journalist and poet pointed out elements he considers distorted Tanguito’s storyserving as a basis for the construction of a story where he is placed as the only one of this movement not to have negotiated with a record company, he was faithful to his principles, and this earned him the betrayal of his friends and the lesson of the system.

Over there lament that in one of the few known recordings of Tanguito, the voice of Javier Martínez appears, reminding him that he was the author of “La balsa”, which was interpreted by many as a “bill pass” to Litto Nebbia for the fame obtained thanks to this song. But basically, he was aiming for the 1993 hit film “Tango feroz”, directed by Marcelo Piñeyro, inspired by the life of the legendary artist.

Fierce Tango HD – SPRING LOVE

This record hurt a lot because Javier said that to convince him to sing. Today he confesses that he made the mistake of not saying ‘with Litto Nebbia’, because that’s why everyone is convinced that the one who composed ‘La balsa’ was Tanguito and Litto l’ flew ; when Litto never denied co-writing Tanguito“, he pointed out.

And he continued: “It’s an absurd thing that was part of this construction that was then made by the film ‘poor Tanguito, a good guy that nobody wanted and used him’. They made a distortion like all the guys around him became in some merchants who betrayed him. Where did you see Moris, Litto or Javier Martínez selling? Never! They all maintained independent careers and they are not guys who had great commercial success.

Nevertheless, Pipo Lernoud was encouraged to risk a definition on Tanguito and felt his last lesson could have been avoided in a country that had containment plans instead of punishing the addict.

“He had a pretty patient personality. He had been trying to live in London all along as a boy from Caseros City, as he said. The movie was made that he was one of the Kinks or Donovan, then he kind of represents the a guy who lives in his own world,” Lernoud explained.

And he ended: “We were in a dictatorship, a very harsh country that persecuted us. The system destroyed Tanguito because the system is very hard on sensitive guys and Tanguito was a very sensitive guy“.

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