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Tango Times Tango Times
The Best of Tango Times
Argentine Tangos


by Tango Times Tango Times
July 23, 2002


Originally published in the Summer 2002 issue of THE TANGO TIMES.

December 7, 1914 - July 23, 2002

Alberto De Luca, which was Alberto Castillo's real name, was born in the Buenos Aires barrio of Mataderos on December 7, 1914. He was the fifth son of Italian parents Salvador De Luca and Lucia Paola.

When he was a small boy he would hum tangos and while he was still a youth everyone wanted him to appear at every musical get-together that was held in his neighborhood. He studied medicine but his real love was singing. He made his professional debut as Alberto Dual accompanied by the guitarist Armando Neira in 1934. In 1935 he appeared with Augusto Berto and in 1937 with Mariano Rodas. In 1938 he sang with Ricardo Tanturi's orchestra "Los Indios". He made his first recording with Tanturi on January 8th 1941with the Alfredo Pelaia vals Recuerdo. That was followed by Noches del Colón, A otra cosa, Tango, Che, Pebeta, Madame Ivonne and the song that he is particularly identified with Así se baile el tango.

Castillo was known for his flamboyant gestures and his style of dressing. He would wear double-breasted suits with his handkerchief spilling out from his top pocket and loud ties with the knot open which was not always appreciated by the more traditionally-minded tango enthusiasts.

In 1943 he broke away from Tanturi. During this period he introduced candombe into his shows using black dancers as he sang. Charol was his first candombe hit. This was followed by other hits including Siga el baile, Baile de los morenos, El cachivachero and Candonga which he wrote.

Castillo actively participated in the Argentine cinema making successful tours of South America, The United States and Europe. In 1946 he appeared in Adiós pampa mia, in 1948 together with Annibal Troilo he was in El tango vuelve a Paris, and in 1949 Un tropezón cualquiera de en la vida. Films directed by Manuel Romero. He was also in many other films among which are Alma de bohemio, La barra de la esquina, Buenos Aires, mi tierra querida, Por cuatro días locos, Ritmo, amor y picardia, Música, alegria y amor, Luces de candilejas, and Nubes de humo.

In the 1940s he was known as "El Cantor de los 100 Barrios Porteños." [The singer from the 100 Buenos Aires districts] Castillo had a long career. In 1993 he recorded "Siga el baile" with the Argentine rock group "Los Autenticos Decadentes" managing to capture a youthful following as he did in the '40s. He liked to begin his shows by saying "I belong to the people, from the people I receive all that I am, and to the people I give all that I can."

Castillo sang also under the direction of Francisco Canaro in the movie Adiós Pampa Mía. Many remember him with the song by Ivo Pelay and Maiano Mores:

Adiós pampa mía
Me voy … Me voy a tierra extrañas
Adios, caminos que he recorrido
rios, montes y cañadas
tapera donde he nacido
Si no volvemos a vernos
tierra querida
quiero que sepas
que al irme dejo la vido
Adios! . . .

Goodbye, my pampa
I'm leaving… leaving for foreign lands
Goodbye, roads that I have walked
rivers, hills, and rushes
Shanty where I was born
If we do not return to see each other again
beloved land
I want you to know
that in my going I leave my life
Goodbye! . . .

And so we say "Goodbye" to Alberto Castillo - He may be gone but his memory and songs linger on.

Photo taken in the 1950s shows left to right, Jaime Torres, Angel Condercuri - bandoneonista, director & arranger of Castillo's orchestra, Danel (tango dancer and great fan of Alberto Castillo), and O. Del Valle.

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