any of us are familiarized
with the nicknames of tango artists but we don't always know its true
reason. Because of that I decided to start a research about some sobriquets,
not only of those very popular artists but also of those that today
are almost unknown and, due to its curiosity, to comment them is worthwhile.
Although many legends or made-up stories about them are known, the ones
presented here were told by them personally or through their friends
or relatives. For this reason I think that they possess a greater veracity.
Pianist of the Guardia Vieja (old style) and composer of "El
talar", one of the oldest tango pieces. His nickname comes
from the old habit of christening people according to their origin
or to some feature that associated them with some people or ethnic
trait in particular. Prudencio's red hair was associated with Anglosaxon
features, then "El yoni" stood for Johnny in English.
Francisco Canaro. Pirincho
and El Kaiser
his book "Memorias": "At the moment of my birth, my
mother was assisted by a midwife named Sara who, when she saw me,
exclaimed: "he looks like a Pirincho!", which is a bird
with a tuft. And ... it seems that I was born with my hair in an upright
position. Before my name I was called that way". In the "Sopena"
dictionary we read: Pirincho; name given in the River Plate area to
a kind of gray magpie with black wings.
His siblings and his musicians began to call him "El Kaiser",
due to his energic temper and his attitude of leadership. They recalled
King William I, Emperor of Germany from 1871 to 1888, whose government
was hard and inflexible, inspired in the policy of his chancellor
Gabriel Clausi: Chula
is a case similar to Canaro's. When he was born, his father exclaimed
that he looked like a "chula". It took many years to Clausi
to find out the origin of his nickname until he discovered that so
is called a small monkey that lives in the countryside of Brazil.
Coincidentally, his parents lived there for a time, exactly where
Clausi verified that those monkeys with outstanding hair -like his
when he was born- dwelled.
Juan D'Arienzo: Grillito
and El Rey del Compás
his beginnings he was violinist, and there is an unanimous agreement
in regarding him as a mediocre instrumentalist. To such an extent
it was that someone began to call him "Grillito" (Little
Cricket), because the sounds he got from the strings were like the
noises this insect produces. With the passing of time it was forgotten
and was replaced by "El Rey de Compás", referring
to the pungent beat that characterized his orchestra.
Carlos Di Sarli: El
at all pleasant turned out the nickname thrown at him. This story
dates back to the time when he was only 13 and took place at his father's
gunshop in Bahía Blanca. Unfortunately one of the employees
accidentally shot a gun and wounded little Carlos. The employee was
called Roberto Bognoni, he was a man very dear to the family, but
in his desperation he left his job and the town. The kid needed surgery
and they put a platinum plate in his head and advised him to wear
dark glasses, which later would be characteristic element of his image.
and composer of "Chiqué". When he was a child, about
7 or 8 years old, in carnival they took him a photo with two of his
little friends. Then he was dressed in gaucho outfit and, as in the
old times it was usual with young sons, his hairdo showed a fringe
of hair and a loose hair that reached his ears. Years later, when
a friend of his saw the photograph exclaimed: "He looks like
a girl!". And so it remained. Others have said that it was because
of his beardless skin, but it isn't so, the nickname comes from his
Pianist and composer, his public debut was at a kermesse organized
by the manufacturers of the "Kalisay"
aperitif. Since then comes his nickname. Some even suggested that
such a nickname was a synonym for "cabezón" (big
head) because the figure that appeared in the advertisements of the
drink represented an old man with a big head.
Vicente Greco: Garrote
brothers Domingo, Ángel and his sister Elena were also musicians.
Instead, his brother Fernando was a butcher and was a stout man. Even
though his temper was peaceful, when some impolite bothered him he
would strike him some blows without asking permission. His blows were
so heavy that in the neighborhood he began to be known as "Garrote"
(Big Stick). Vicente soon was known in the milieu as "Garrote's
brother", to finally supress the word 'brother' and leave only
"Garrote". Another version holds that "Garrote"
comes from a heavy stick that Vicente carried to show off.
Juan Bautista Guido: El
in the neighborhood of Parque Patricios, his nickname does not hide
a very interesting story. Oscar
Zucchi comments: «His father was a stubborn Calabrian. He
run a milk shop and his son was in charge of the delivery. Hence the
nickname. In fact soon he stopped with that task because he brought
no money home, he only alleviated a little his father's work. He was
soon a carpenter's apprentice.»
Juan Maglio: Pacho
I was a kid my father, who was Italian, used to call me "crazy"
in his dialect because of my capers. In fact he called me "pazzo"
and as my playmates failed to pronounce correctly that word they uttered
"pacho". My nickname became widely known and so they kept
on calling me that way; the nickname even surpassed the family name».
Maglio's outfit was so popular that Francisco
Pracánico told us about an event that happened in his early
days as musician. He had to play with one of his first groups and
the owner of the venue ordered to print some posters announcing: "La
orquesta típica de PAnCHO", with a small n, so that at
first sight it would be mistaken with Pacho, with the purpose of attracting
a greater audience.
Nicolás Primiani: Pindeca
A bandoneon player in the twenties, he joined the staff orchestra
of the Teatro Nacional, along with Ángel
D'Agostino, Juan D'Arienzo,
Alfredo Mazzeo and Arturo
Severino. According to the stories of the musicians that came
to know him, Primiani used to play a funny role interspersing words
in "cocoliche" in his chats. So every time he saw a young
attractive woman he exclaimed: "What a pretty "pindeca"!",
instead of pendeja (young girl). So his sobriquet became popular.
It's worthwhile to remember that the way in which the Italian immigrants
used to speak Spanish was known as "cocoliche". It was portrayed
in numerous one-act farces.
Francisco Bautista Rímoli: Dante
Even though it is a nom de guerre and not a nickname, we add it because
its origin is quite interesting. Many ones when naming him, especially
radio speakers, supress the letter "A", as if it were a
second unimportant name. This should not be so, because that letter
has a great importance. Its purpose was a pseudonym with a cacophonic
sound similar to Dante Alighieri, author of the Divina Comedia.
Arturo Severino: La Vieja
This bandoneonist of the Arolas's generation, was born around 1892
in Parque Patricios. According to Héctor Polito, when Severino
was a young kid he used to go to have tea with croissants and hid
some of them to bring them to his mother, to "la vieja".
According to Clausi who knew him personally: "He already lived
alone since an early age and when they met him in the street he invariably
said he was going to Mom's ("la vieja")". Another version,
and according to Clausi the likeliest, is that he was flirting with
a woman much older than him. On one occasion, when he was with her,
her husband turned up and he fled almost naked through the backyard.
He had to jump over a barbed wire fence and one of the sharp ends
hurt one of his testicles. When the kids in the neighborhood knew
about this, they began to call him "la vieja" remembering
an interview made by Julián
Centeya he said the following: "My nickname is previous to
my name. Marcos had been the first son and it was agreed that the
second male child had to bear my father's name, Aníbal. But
long before that I was Pichuco, because Dad had a close friend called
that way and there was like a promise ... and so they told me that
when Dad held me in his arms I was crying and he said: it's O.K.,
Osvaldo Fresedo: The
kid of La Paternal
Pedro Maffia: The kid
The kid of Wilde
La Paternal and Flores are two neighborhoods of the city of Buenos
Aires and Wilde, a locality south of Avellaneda in the province of
Buenos Aires. It was a way to differentiate them by their place of
residence. All them began to stand out when wearing "short trousers",
hence the "kids". The three of them had their fans that
called them in such a way to compare the gifts of one and another.