Full name: Fernando Alfredo Díaz
(14 December 1903 - 11 January 1981)
ery little we can find about the life of this excellent singer, save for his outstanding epoch in the Francisco Lomuto Orchestra.
His strong personality, his warm baritone voice with tenor-like nuances and his phrasing, made of him a different, special singer. Today he is incredibly forgotten but, luckily, there are many recordings we can listen to ponder his high quality.
He was one of the three refrain singers named Díaz that were on the scene contemporarily. The other two were Roberto and Luis. Most of the tango fans think that he was the best among the other Díazes.
Ironically the articles published in journals about him along the years seem to conclude that the most important thing for him was to be the grandson of the Uruguayan general César Díaz, who with General Urquiza fought against Juan Manuel de Rosas in Caseros.
Thanks to a recent issue of the magazine "Córdoba Tango", the journalist and friend of the singer José Pedernera clears out what was always wrongly said: his birthplace and the year of his birth. Until then they said it was in 1905 in the city of Río Cuarto, province of Córdoba, but it happened in 1903 and in Buenos Aires. He also states that he died in 1981, and he assures he has the death certificate.
His father was an employee at the mail office and because of his work he frequently changed his domicile. So his son spent part of his childhood in Río Cuarto and as well in the province of Buenos Aires, in the city of Ayacucho.
In his recordings, except the last ones, he was always estribillista (refrain singer). The collector and researcher Oscar Zucchi comments to us: «Due to his vocal timbre and his dynamic phrasing he was among the best paid "chansonniers" of the thirties. The best of his career was closely linked to his successful and long tenure with "Pancho" Lomuto.»
Possibly, his musical vocation began at home, hearing his mother play the piano. Also it may have started during the performances of singers and payadores to which his father frequently used to take him. But in fact he, still a teenager, and with his family already based in Buenos Aires, studied piano at a conservatory and formed a vocal duo with a friend of his. It was an unimportant experience but the flame was already lit.
His professional debut might have taken place between 1927 and 1928 at the Teatro Opera, as member of the criollo outfit led by Arturo Grecco. The latter staged plays in a gaucho folk vein and in that genre, classics like Juan Moreira or Juan Cuello. He was as well one of the many singers that performed, accompanied by guitars, on Radio Nacional. That radio station was later renamed as Radio Belgrano when it was handed over to Samuel Yankelevich.
He made tours throughout the interior of the country, appeared as soloist on Radio París and on October 31, 1930 he recorded for the first time with the outfit led by Juan Maglio, cutting the tango piece "No tenés perdón de Dios" by Carlos Massina and Enrique Sáenz. On the other side the Juan Mercorelli's waltz "Celia" was recorded. Some discographies attribute to him its recording, but that is mistaken. The singer was the unknown vocalist Roberto Basso who, also with Maglio and on the same date, cut the Humberto Castiglioni's ranchera "Metanlé duro y parejo".
On January 10, 1931 he certified his tenure in the Carlos Di Sarli Sexteto with two recordings, the tangos pieces: "Que Dios te perdone", by Manuel Flores and Celedonio Flores, and "Cachivache", by C.L.Gallardo and Acosta Lara.
Later he associated with Alberto Hilarión Acuña and formed a vocal duo which lasted a short time. Both vocalists were hired by Francisco Lomuto and recorded with his orchestra on August 27, 1931. They released seven numbers, but the tango "Muñequita", the waltz "A su memoria" and also "El aguacero" are standouts.
Out of the around 180 numbers that Fernando Díaz committed to disc, about 170 were with Lomuto's orchestra. Among them I consider noteworthy the following: "El irresistible", by Lorenzo Logatti with lyrics by Carlos Pesce, "Aquel nocturno" composed by the bandoneon player Daniel Álvarez, "Danza maligna", written by the pianist Fernando Randle and the lawyer Carlos Attwell Ocantos also known as Claudio Frollo, and "Rencor", by Charlo and Amadori. As well as the melodic piece by Daniel Álvarez "Como se muere de amor" and the curious recording of Francisco De Caro's and Mario César Gomila's "Bibelot" which was never recorded by the Julio De Caro Orchestra.
With Lomuto he had two stages, the first ended in the late December 1935 and the second lasted from April 1939 until the early days of 1943.
He appeared at some of the musical comedies that Lomuto presented, in Canaro's style, at theaters of our city: "La vuelta de Miss París" at the Smart (later Blanca Podestá) where Díaz premiered the tango "Aunque parezca mentira". Also at the Smart, the comedy "Descanso dominical" in which he premiered "La canción del deporte" and the tango "Si soy así". Another musical in which he appeared was "Su majestad el tango". Antonio Botta wrote the script for them all. And the abovementioned songs were soon recorded.
On the radio, alongside the orchestra, he appeared at a season accompanying the actor Enrique Muiño who had the role of a humoristic character: "Ceferino Siempreviva, el marqués del gran boleto". There the tango "Ceferino" was premiered.
During the gap, between one and another tenure with Lomuto, he was a soloist singer accompanied by a guitar group led by Roberto Grela. During a tour the virtuoso guitarist handed to him the lyrics that Francisco Gorrindo had written for a melody composed by the former. A few days later, he premiered the piece on Belgrano radio station and then a classic was born: "Las cuarenta".
In 1940 he had a brief tenure in Juan Canaro's orchestra, the other vocalist was Alberto Tagle.
Lomuto was never an obstacle for other stints, so in 1932 he joined the long list of vocalists that passed through the ranks of the Orquesta Típica Víctor. On September 2 in that year he cut "El beso de Manuelita", by Maciel and Blomberg, and "Humillación", by the pianist Pedro Vergez and Héctor Gagliardi. He also recorded backed by José Canet: Alfredo Pelaia's "La pampita" and "Sandía calada" written by Enrique Rodríguez and Máximo Orsi.
He ventured into the jazz scene with Adolfo Carabelli's band. That happened in 1934 when he recorded the fox-trot "Florida de seis a ocho" and the pasodoble "Soy de Andalucía". Backed by guitar group he recorded the Genaro Veiga's Colombian bambuco "Mi hermosa colombiana", the tango "Serpentinas de esperanzas", written by José Canet and Afner Gatti and "Noches de Trópico" by José Rodríguez and Enrique Baudino.
In his discography we must add his tenure in the Eddie Kay jazz group, (sobriquet for Edmundo Tulli), with the waltz "Noche de boda" by Pablo Osvaldo Valle.
With his long time partner, Jorge Omar, for a short time they put together an orchestra named "Los Diablos Rojos" whose musical direction was offered to maestro Vicente Saturnini. They appeared on Radio El Mundo, and made a tour of several provinces and that was all.
When his second cycle with Francisco Lomuto ended, Fernando settled in the province of Córdoba, where soon his career in the show business finished. He withdrew very young and ventured into other activities until he retired.