Félix Gutiérrez

Real name: Gutiérrez, Félix
(19 May 1909 - 6 October 1992)
Place of birth:
Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires) Argentina
Oscar Zucchi

e was a fairly good refrain singer, clearly influenced by Gardel, with a warm vocal timbre, a flexible phrasing and a way of saying well rooted in tango.

Dark skinned, he was known in the milieu as El Negro Gutiérrez. In Mar del Plata, his hometown, after he finished grade school he began to practice boxing because he admired the technical school created by the French fighter George Carpentier. With his instructor Laulet he was developing until he became the amateur lightweight champion in Mar del Plata. He used to alternate his blows with singing and guitar playing wherever it was possible.

He arrived in Buenos Aires with the intention of continuing boxing, but now as professional. He also wanted to further his guitar playing. So he went to the academy run by the De Caros’ father. But when the latter heard him sing was pleasantly surprised. Then Don José recommended him to his son Julio so as to join his orchestra. By that time his expectations about boxing were frustrated by an important lesion in his right hand. It is 1927 and he stayed with the aggregation about six months. During that period he succeeded in recording once.

He served for one year in the military service and he reappeared as a soloist singer accompanied by guitars on the LOH Radio Bernotti (later the radio station was known as La Abuelita, Bijou, Del Pueblo, América and now Buenos Aires).

His following appearance was in a duo setting with the singer Manuel Cao as the dúo criollo Cao-Gutiérrez. But as it was difficult by that time to stand out in that genre, they decided to approach other musical forms and they added the pianist Daniel López Barreto. They continued with the group for a year and a half.

He joined the orchestra led by the pianist Manuel Buzón that used to appear in the soap operas aired by the Splendid and Prieto radio stations. It was then when Edgardo Donato, that appeared in similar broadcasts aired from the old Teatro San Martín, was interested in his singing and while they are arranging his inclusion in the orchestra he was summoned by Francisco Canaro for cutting some recordings.

His debut on record with Donato was an anthological rendition of “El huracán”. He also stood out in his rendering of “La novena” and the then acclaimed “Qué hacés que hacés”.

In 1934 he temporarily quit Donato to replace Ernesto Famá who was ill. He returned to Canaro. The same year he joined the Pedro Maffia Orchestra and cut two recordings. He came back as soloist with guitars on LR3 Radio Belgrano. He had a short tenure again with the Julio De Caro’s orchestra during the brief stay of Edmundo Rivero in the aggregation.

In 1938 he joined the aggregation of the violinist Mario Azzerboni as refrain singer (estribillista). The style was quite similar to Juan D'Arienzo’s. With this orchestra he appeared in a great number of balls.

When others were just beginning their career or getting strong in the business, he decided to return to Mar del Plata. From that time his name in the tango milieu began to decline until it disappeared.

Excerpted from Historia del tango, Editorial Corregidor, Volume 11.