Alberto Lago

Real name: Lago, Rodolfo Alfredo
Singer, lyricist and composer
(2 November 1919 - 8 September 1999)
Place of birth:
Chivilcoy (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Héctor Oviedo
| Gaspar Astarita

e was born in Chivilcoy, province of Buenos Aires. A city far 150 kilometers from the Capital.

The beginnings of his career in show business were somewhat similar to the ones of many other singers of his time. After finishing his studies, he found some job to help his family but he had the need of singing. That was his vocation. There were family parties, some second rate clubs and his relationship with the pianist Lorenzo Pasturenzi with whom he took classes of vocalization.

Then time later he appeared at the Metropol movie theater, accompanied by his teacher and a young violinist. The latter was later regarded as the greatest arranger in tango history, Argentino Galván. It was in 1935.

Eager to know the big city he accompanied a relative of his that had to go to Buenos Aires. The latter came back alone. He spent two years to get acquainted with the milieu and, only in 1938, he joined the José Luis Padula Orchestra that appeared on Radio Callao. His debut was with “Duelo criollo”, by Juan Rezzano, bandoneonist of the orchestra.

As Padula also led a folk group, Los Nativos, he as well performed in that outfit on Radio Fénix. His first recording was singing a duo with Vicente Belvedere, the composer of the melody of “Barrio pobre”.

He joined the orchestra led by Pascual Biafore for a short time and, thereafter he appeared as soloist at the night club Lua on 600 San Martín Street. He appeared at this venue on several occasions.

In the early 1940, Hugo Del Carril suggested him to visit Tito Ribero, a man connected to movies and arranger and leader of the orchestra that used to backup the singer. Ribero and Lago started a tour together. Later he was summoned by Enrique De Lorenzo to appear at the Tabarís in the evenings and to travel to Chile. The pianist was José Basso.

But another piano player was who allowed him to be spotlighted in an orchestra, then one of the most popular ones: Rodolfo Biagi’s. As the latter did not like that there would be two guys named Rodolfo, he suggested him bearing his second name. Since then he has been Alberto Lago. He had to replace Jorge Ortiz who had switched to the Miguel Caló’s aggregation. It was a five-year tenure and he cut five numbers on record.

His next step was a gig as soloist on Radio El Mundo, accompanied by the staff orchestra of the radio station conducted by Juan Larenza and, also by guitarists like: Remersaro, Robles and Laino.

Soon thereafter Osvaldo Pugliese summoned him to appear alongside his vocalist Roberto Chanel. Later, a new step, he joined the Julio De Caro Orchestra, appearing on radio, theaters and different venues. Regretfully, with none ot the above he succeeded in recording. Finally at last, he cut twelve numbers for the Victor label —with the orchestra headed by Juan Caldarella— but none of them was a tango: there were waltzes, pasodobles and other beats.

Between 1945 and 1947, two Canaros appeared in his career: Rafael, just arrived from France, summoned him for a season at the Cabaret Casanova —where he shared his performance as vocalist with Carlos Dante— and later, Humberto, the bassist, with whom he began a long tour throughout the provinces of our country.

He continued with César Zagnoli and his orchestra at the Maipú Pigall and Radio Mitre. With his own orchestra he appeared at the boite of the Hotel Crillón for a season. On recommendation of the jounalist Ricardo Lleras, he played a short part in a play at the Teatro Mayo, he sang accompanied by a trio comprised by the Cucaro brothers, authors of the milonga “Silueta porteña”. He appeared in the program Postales Sonoras on Radio Stentor. He traveled to Brazil, appearing at night venues, on television and he recorded a long-playing disc.

On his comeback he came to know that Juan Carlos Cobián had formed a quartet and summoned him to join his group as singer. They appeared at several cabarets. After that season the chance of recording came again, this time a double disc. Pepe Márquez, pianist of Osvaldo Fresedo put together a trio with Alberto García (bandoneon) and José Campesi (double bass). They boastfully name it Las Estrellas del Tango (Tango Stars). They recorded for the Flamingo label. They traveled to Colombia in 1963. The routine is the same: venues, radio and television. For a year they stayed at that country. When they were about to return, Alberto had an offer to travel to the United States. He appeared in numerous shows to great acclaim.

Later, his definitive comeback. He devoted himself to different commercial tasks linked to show business with different results. But he found a comfortable position in SADAIC, an entity in which he was member since 1950 and where he filed over 70 pieces of his own in the record. When Roberto Pansera became its president, he was joint advisor. It was by 1982 and there he stayed working in administrative activities.

They say that in 1993 he wrote an autobiographical book which collects numerous anecdotes he recalls after so many travels and a long career. About that he said: «I only remember people’s virtues. I reject their faults because they fill a useless space and poison our souls».

Extracted from Tango XXI magazine, Nº 12 (1997) and from Tango y Lunfardo magazine, Chivilcoy.