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Poetas
By Fernando Pastor

Singer and guitarist
(June 8, 1911 - January 18, 1986)
Full name: Leonel Edmundo Rivero
Nickname: El Feo (The Ugly One)

More Rivero:
dmundo Rivero represents a singular case in the long gallery of tango singers. The bass range, that his voice had, was a real rarity in the genre and, at the same time, it was a quality hardly appreciated by tango fans, who were used to hear baritones and tenors. However, his intonation and the colorful nuances of his phrasing, plus a feeling and a country style with reminiscences of Gardel, made him a favorite of audiences and, at the same time, the first case of a bass voice standing out at a period of extraordinary vocalists.

His musical training and development was as well important. His knowledge was not improvised and by no means, intuitive, he was a studious person that began with classical music, with the rigor of academies, discipline and study.

He was born in the neighborhood of Valentín Alsina, in the province of Buenos Aires. His parents, Aníbal and Anselma, encouraged in their children, since cradle time, the love for music. He was brought up in neighborhood of Saavedra and spent his adolescence in Belgrano.

At an early age at the National Conservatory he began to study singing and later, guitar playing.

He appeared for the first time duetting with his sister Eva on Radio Cultura. On this same broadcasting he was hired to join the group for accompaniment of the occasional figures that appeared there. Furthermore, he evidenced his gift as guitarist by playing a repertoire of Spanish classical music at recitals in theaters.

His debut as singer took place in an unexpected way, because he had to substitute the artist that was supposed to appear on Radio Splendid and whom Rivero had to accompany.

The first orchestra that hired "El Feo" was that of José De Caro, what made possible for him to get in touch with Julio De Caro, who invited him to join his orchestra as singer at the traditional carnival balls at the Teatro Pueyrredón in Flores. Later he made his debut at the orchestra of Emilio Orlando and, in the early forties, he did it with Humberto Canaro's.

Two remarkable events with quite different results happened in the life of our dear artist during this decade. Towards 1944 he is called by the pianist Horacio Salgán to join his orchestra, in which he was until 1947. There were no recordings at that period, because the impresarios at the recording companies neither understood the advanced conception of tango that Salgán had, nor the unusual vocal range of Rivero. Both only had the pleasure to record in the following decades, when they already were consecrated artists.

The second event is the one that definitively launched him to fame, when he was required by Aníbal Troilo to be a member of his great orchestra, replacing Alberto Marino. During the three years that Rivero stayed in the orchestra of Pichuco, he left more than twenty recordings, on some of them he sang in duet with Floreal Ruiz or with Aldo Calderón. At this stage the great singer began to be identified with tangos such as "El último organito", "La viajera perdida", "Yo te bendigo", but especially with the tango by Homero Manzi and Aníbal Troilo: "Sur".

In the year 1950 he started his career as soloist, and he is accompanied by a guitar group whose lineup was Armando Pagés, Rosendo Pesoa, Adolfo Carné, Achával and Milton, on other occasions he was accompanied by the orchestra of Victor Buchino.

During the prolongued artistic career of Edmundo Rivero he appeared in several movies, among them the following stand out: "El cielo en las manos" (1949), in which he interprets the title theme, a tango by Homero Cárpena and Astor Piazzolla, accompanied by the orchestra of the latter. The movie "Al compás de tu mentira" (1951), where he sings "No te engañes corazón" by Rodolfo Sciamarella, accompanied by guitars. Later "La diosa impura", on which he interprets "Sin palabras" by Enrique Santos Discépolo and Mariano Mores, and he appeared in the famous Armando Bo's film "Pelota de cuero", among others.

Around 1965, he was chosen to interpret Jorge Luis Borges's poems, musicalized by Astor Piazzolla and recorded under the title "El tango". The actor Luis Medina Castro recited works of the poet on this record. This work was presented at theaters throughout the country and in Uruguay.

In the late 60s, he was accompanied by the guitar group led by Roberto Grela and whose lineup was: Rafael Del Pino, Héctor Davis, Héctor Barceló, Rubén Morán and Domingo Laine. Out of this team unforgettable recordings resulted, such as "Packard", "Falsía", "Poema número cero" and "Atenti pebeta", true jewels of the genre.

He delved into the art of writing with two books: "Una luz de almacén" and "Las voces, Gardel y el tango". There would have been a third book but the artist's demise interrupted its writing, it was a profound research about lunfardo language and poetry.

He was composer and author of several numbers, some tangos in a bully mood in lunfardo. "No mi amor", "Malón de ausencia", "A Buenos Aires", "Falsía", "Quién sino tu", "Arigato Japón" and "El jubilado". He also composed: "Pelota de cuero" (with Héctor Marcó), "Biaba" (Celedonio Flores), "La señora del chalet", "Poema número cero" and "Las diez de última" (the three with Luis Alposta), "Calle Cabildo" (D. De Biase), "Acuérdate" (José María Contursi), "Todavía no" (Eugenio Majul), "Aguja brava" (Eduardo Giorlandini), "Amablemente" (Iván Diez), "Coplas del Viejo Almacén" (Horacio Ferrer), "Milonga del consorcio" (with Arturo de la Torre and Jorge Serrano) and "P'al nene" and "Bronca" (with Mario Battistella), among others.

In 1969, he had the pleasure to open his own tango house: "El Viejo Almacén". An enormous number of national and international figures paraded along this venue and it was possible to witness such interesting episodes like listening to Rivero accompanied by the orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese, or, at any evening, to see Joan Manuel Serrat, a fervent admirer of the singer, among the audience.

On January 18, 1986, after being in hospital since December, due to a heart ailment he passed away in Buenos Aires at the age of 74.

He was a different singer, genial, adorned with an affable and gentleman-like personality which made that the whole artistic milieu loved him and, what is most important, there is a public that remembers him and admires him in each one of his recordings.