Singer, actor and composer
(June 20, 1902 - August 8, 1971)
antiago Roberto Fugazot was born in Montevideo, in the neighborhood of Reus del norte or Villa Muñoz, on June 20, 1902. Since his adolescence he was an amateur actor and good singer. He was linked to those of his time, especially Américo Chiriff and Humberto Correa as well. He got the experienced advice from the well-known itinerant singer Juan Pedro López with whom he teamed-up to make tours throughout Uruguay.
In February 1924, at the start of the Uruguayan radio and telephone communications, Fugazot in duet with Chiriff sang on the "Paradizábal" broadcasting and three months later on the radio "El Día", this time together with Ítalo Goyeche. The Fugazot-Goyeche duo would debut at the Teatro "Nacional" of Buenos Aires. He settled there.
He played guitar very well due to his extraordinary ear and perfect pitch he was sought after by the singers to team-up duets. While living at the restaurant and lodging "La cortada de Carabelas", in Buenos Aires, he met Agustín Irusta, just arrived in the city of Buenos Aires.
It was at the heroic times of the new singers and, in general, variety shows were held at public resorts or plazas, locals that by then were abundant, where by raffling some bottle or lottery numbers, a "tray" was presented to the customers for a contribution.
In 1926, he settled his duo with Agustín Irusta and with don Alfredo Gobbi, whom he had met before, they joined under the name "Los tres gauchos", appearing at the "Hipodrome" theater. The first star was Ada Falcón. Artistic jealousy abruptly cut off the nice success achieved by "Los tres gauchos". Gobbi then urged them to go on by themselves. Irusta-Fugazot kept on working, showcasing as main course at different theaters.
Fugazot was responsible for the premiering of a beautiful tango: "Viejo ciego", music composed by the maestro Sebastián Piana, with lyrics by Cátulo Castillo and Homero Manzi from the stage of the "Nuevo" theater, corresponding to a play called "Patadas y serenatas en el barrio de las latas". The event took place on November 6, 1926.
A few months later -already in 1927- important events happened. Irusta-Fugazot managed to record for the "Victor" company, while Francisco Canaro required them, with the precise vision that the old maestro always had. The fourth tango contest sponsored by Max Glücksmann (discographic impresario), was nearing and Irusta-Fugazot sang the refrain of the triumphant number, "Noche de reyes", by Pedro Maffia and Jorge Curi and "El mal que me hiciste", by Carlos Percuocco and Luis De Biase, also included in the contest. Fugazot, alone, recorded two tangos: "Lagrimeando, lagrimeando" (by Antonio Scatasso and Alberto Novión) and "Fumando espero" (by Juan Viladomat Masanas and Félix Garzo).
While Francisco Canaro´s orchestra was playing at the "Tabarís" theater, Agustín Irusta was invited by the leader to travel to Paris to sing in the orchestra led by Rafael and Juan Canaro. He agreed, very pleased and he called his partner Fugazot. Francisco Canaro agreed that the latter would travel as well.
They embarked in the "Cap Polonio" and when arriving in France there was a misunderstanding with the musicians that were already there, a circumstance that altered Francisco Canaro´s plans. In Paris the singers met with the pianist and composer Lucio Demare. All of them traveled to Madrid to encounter the musicians of the Canaro orchestra.
The famous trio was born, and had its definitive baptism at the cabaret "Maipú" of Madrid when debuting at a party which allowed them to sign a contract with the "Maravillas" theater for a folk scene in which they appeared with gaucho garments, these details were remembered by Agustín Irusta in his book "El trovero", published in Caracas.
"trío argentino", as they were introduced, originated
an association with the recording company "Gramófono"
of Barcelona. The records were sold by thousands. That work that began
in 1927 culminated in 1934, after the Spanish films, where the trio
was showcased, were shot.
During the period of recordings, frequently Roberto Fugazot was soloist, performing important numbers and among them a piece belonging to Juan Pedro López titled "Que mi china se fue".
The presence of Irusta-Fugazot-Demare in Spain was always a major success. From there they traveled to the Caribbean countries. In Mexico they appeared without Demare, replaced by the guitarist Rafael Iriarte.
In 1932 they came to the River Plate from Caracas where they only played once (1931, passing through Guayaquil and Lima). In Buenos Aires, the vocal duet and Irusta only recorded some numbers with the orchestra of Francisco Canaro. Out of that repertoire the following are worth-mentioning "El jardín del amor", from the musical comedy by Francisco Canaro and Ivo Pelay, "La muchachada del centro" where Fugazot had a marvelous duet with splendid counter melodies, helped, as it has already been said, by his privileged ear and the perfect placement of his voice for his partner's showcasing.
Buenos Aires was not adequate for the refined expressions of Irusta-Fugazot-Demare. They came back to Spain and in Barcelona they met with the Uruguayan orchestra headed by Angel Sica and Francisco Panedas. They invited them to join them and so they did, for a time.
The trio was starred in the movies "Boliche" -successfully-
and "Aves sin rumbo" which did not reached the level of
the former and they kept on playing until 1935 when they decided to
return to Buenos Aires at the time Francisco Canaro was putting together
the cast for the musical comedy "La patria del Tango". They
were included, after a suggestion of Canaro himself.
Before appearing in "La patria del tango", the trio had been starred in the movie "Ya tiene comisario el pueblo", where all the musical numbers were composed by Lucio Demare, some in collaboration with Francisco Canaro and the lyrics were Claudio Martínez Paiva's, script writer of the film. It was native music of great quality with splendid verses, that were not committed to record.
Irusta-Fugazot-Demare closed a period of hits. Its members followed different roads, although they circumstantially reunited again.
An important stage for Roberto Fugazot began. His major contribution to the Argentine cinema, already independent. He left singing behind to turn into an excellent characteristic actor. He worked in "Nace un amor" (1938); "Hermanos", "Y los sueños pasan" and "Prisioneros de la tierra" (1939); "El hijo del barrio" and "La carga de los valientes" (1940); "Vidas marcadas" (1942); "Delirio" (1944); "Pampa bárbara" (1945); "La fuerza ciega" (1950); and "Los isleros" (1951) are the list of movies where he contributed with all the range of his art. He was then, for years, required for acting, and he always widely stood out.
In the late 1948, tempted by an advantageous contract, Irusta, Fugazot and Demare returned to Havana. Their work, in exclusivity, is materialized in radio presentations and recordings for the impresario Suaritos, which forty years later have begun to be widespread from Mexico in a special series of records.
Roberto Fugazot, in Buenos Aires also appeared on radio, as actor, among his hits a cycle in "Gran pensión El Campeonato" broadcasted by radio Belgrano in 1941 can be remembered.
In 1959, once more, from Spain Agustín Irusta called his partners of the famous trio. Some engagements made impossible for Lucio Demare to travel, but Roberto Fugazot made it instead. The photographs of the duet in Barcelona where seen in the specialized magazines.
Artistically always together, Irusta and Fugazot played in Caracas at several locals. In the late 1959 they worked at the local "El rincón del tango". There they followed different roads. Fugazot made a tour of the interior of Venezuela. It is his farewell as singer, coming back later to Buenos Aires.
Since then, Fugazot lived of his memories. He made frequent visits to his neighborhood in Montevideo. In Buenos Aires he was tango rendezvous at the cafés near the building of the Society of Authors and in that city he passed away on August 8, 1971.
Years later, Montevideo paid its homage to Fugazot, naming a small square with his name, a few blocks from the place where he was born, Defensa and Isla de Gorriti streets. At that house, according to the version of Fugazot himself, he musically shaped his tango Barrio reo.
A life rich in events. Great singer, excellent guitarist, outstanding actor, good scriptwriter for theater plays and good composer. A true character of our popular music.
|Originally published in the book "Ochenta notas de Tango. Perfiles Biográficos", Ed. La Plaza, Montevideo 1998. Sponsored by the "Academia de Tango del Uruguay".|