Today is the centenary of Alberto Castillo’s birth!
Castillo was a prominent Argentine tango singer, composer and actor, but more than anything, he was a voice that does not sound like any other. His style too was unlike anyone else’s; Castillo himself said that his peculiar phrasing was what dancers needed: “people danced following the nuances of my voice” and he never deviated from his unique way of singing.
A talented singer with a unique voice and style
Castillo made his professional debut in the 1930’s and in order to hide his performances singing tango at local radio stations from his father, adopted two nicknames: Alberto Dual and also Carlos Duval.
He continued singing until he decided to leave music and study as a physician in 1938. But tango still had the sting in him, and one year before graduating, he joined Tanturi’s orchestra. Their first record was released in January 8, 1941, which is when he adopted his last and everlasting nickname: Alberto Castillo. Their first hit was the vals “Recuerdo” from Alfredo Pelaia.
In the early 40’s, Tanturi added to Castillo’s repertoire songs that talked about tango and about tango dancers- “Al compás de un tango” , “El tango es el tango”, “Cuatro compases”, “Canción de tango” and the very successful “Así se baila el tango”.
“Así se baila el tango” was no doubt immortalised by Castillo’s personal and controversial interpretation. Many things about Castillo were unusual and caused sensation, especially the way he had to start rows. He used to sing “What do they know the dandies, the trendy rich boys with their affected manners!” with so much passion, that some of the well-off spectators sometimes felt insulted and answered back. He would then step down from the stage, start a fist fight and then carry on singing, apparently indifferent to what had just happened!
A popular idol
Alberto Castillo never hid his condition of street corner boy, which helped him build such a close relation with his public.
In 1944, Castillo forced the police to cut the traffic in front of the Teatro Alvear where he was performing. According to José Gobello: “he was the last tango singer followed by crowds and his fans were called hinchada (like in soccer)”.
He is remembered as an authentic singer, who sang for people to dance, and as a kind and humble man who liked to start his shows by saying “I belong to the people, from the people I receive all what I am, and to the people I give all what I can.”
Listen to some of Castillo’s songs
Asi se baila el tango
See you soon on the dancefloor!
Nati y Bruno