Néstor Pinsón

e was one of the friends that my father came to know during the ten years he appeared on radio singing as soloist, as member of a vocal quartet and, also, of a trio teaming up with the singer Eduardo Morel and the pianist Raúl Portolés Peralta.

The first Gutiérrez’s memory I keep is a photograph placed at the shop window of an old local where hats were sold and which was located in the middle of the block on Pueyrredón Avenue between Córdoba and Mansilla, on the west side. There he was, skinny and bald, standing among several people and smoking a cigarette. My old folks used to tell me that he would turn up home sooner or later. And that day he came but he was not skinny at all and had plenty of hair. Later I knew it was a wig —so they told me— and it was well made.

He visited us from time to time and he stayed to have dinner with us. One evening he arrived with his daughter —a few years my senior— and, after dinner, he sang some tangos. This happened by the late forties when his success was declining.

A note written by Jorge Palacio (Faruk) points out that first «he had a long career as violinist in several orchestras like the ones led by Juan Bautista Guido, Pedro Maffia, Julio De Caro, Ricardo Brignolo, Francisco Lomuto and Miguel Caló». Surely some gigs were as substitute like in the case of De Caro. I have doubts about Lomuto in which his brother Armando was member for a time until he was accepted as regular member of the staff orchestra of the Teatro Colón.

When Gutiérrez played in the Caló’s orchestra, the author and composer Venancio Clauso —who had heard him sing in a circle of friends—, urged him to appear at a singing talent contest which was organized by the Puloil cleaning powder. The contestants were nearly 3000. The event was held on Radio Splendid and the singers were accompanied by the so-called Trío Puloil that included Miguel Caló, Raúl Kaplún and Luis Brighenti (bandoneon, violin and piano). Hugo won the contest. It was in 1932. The second prize was for Andrés Falgás, third was Elías Fort and fourth, Enrique Casadei. The award was a six-month contract on the radio station for 200 pesos a month as wage.

Thereafter he appeared on other radio stations like Stentor, Porteña, Nacional, Mitre and Belgrano. Furthermore he made a tour of some cities of Brazil.

When we moved from our downtown apartment to a new house in Ramos Mejía he continued with his visits and dropping by without prior notice at lunchtime and, some times, with one of his friends. My attention was attracted to his baritone voice but it had nothing to do with the tenor range of his two recordings (I realized this time later. Of course, more than 20 years had passed) and also to a nervous tic that constantly made the signal for the seven of swords in a game of Truco while his throat emitted a sort of moan. When I asked Dad about that he replied that maybe it was because of an unfortunate thing that happened to him once.

Perhaps Dad supposed or suspected something. And he added that his tango “Fruta amarga” may have been written because of that. Then he told me that he had composed many tangos because he was a musician and all that. Thanks to Gutiérrez and his activity as singer I heard for the first time my name on the radio. It was quite a thing.

He had just returned from North America, it was January 1952. He had appeared at a venue called A Corner of Hollywood by the time our boxing fighter El Mono Gatica who had challenged the world champion Ike Williams (1951), because of a piece of bravado, ended up knocked out on the canvas. He showed us a photograph in which he appeared alongside the boxer and told us about his tour. Furthermore he announced that he would start a season on Radio Splendid in the evenings and he would dedicate a song to me. When the time came the speaker announced the title of the song, its authors and he added: «arranged by Néstor Charles Pinsón».

In a magazine of the 30s an advertisement with his photograph was included: «Hugo Gutiérrez appears as a sensation. The renowned Argentine singer that sacrificed his fame in Buenos Aires to spread tango abroad will appear on Radio Mitre as orchestra leader, violinist and singer. An unprecedented event». There are two photos of his and three of the aggregation. One of a gig in the province of Córdoba, another in Uruguay and the third in Brazil with his peer and compatriot Alberto Tagle.

In another magazine there is an ad of half page size: «Salón Teatro Auditorium LR3 Radio Belgrano. Thursday February 2, 1939 at 9.30 pm. The extraordinary radio show Píldoras de vida del Doctor Ross in which Hugo Gutiérrez is presented in: Biography of my show business life, accompanied by the Freddy Scorticatti’s orchestra».

He only recorded on two occasions. Firstly as refrain singer in the Orquesta Típica Víctor with the tango “Confidencia” written by Federico Scorticati and Juan Bautista Abad Reyes. The second time he was accompanied by guitars on his song “Duerme”. Both were in 1934.

Other numbers he wrote are: “Reina gitana” (pasodoble) with lyrics by Hugo Zamora, “Qué es lo que soy” (tango) with Agustín Horacio Delamónica, “Monotonía” (tango) with Carlos Bahr, “Me ha besado en la boca” (waltz) with Evaristo Fratantoni, “Todo” (tango) with Homero Expósito; “Tapera”, “Torrente”, “Después”, “Fruta amarga” and “Llorarás, llorarás” (tangos) with Homero Manzi; “A Mercedes” (waltz) with Venancio Clauso; “Amigos que yo quiero”, “Quince años”, among many more with his own lyrics.

There was a pair of Hugo’s colleagues with whom I talked about the issue of the composers that signed numbers that did not belong to them. Both of them said that the most renowned pieces by Hugo Gutiérrez did not belong to him. They said that Eduardo Pereyra (El Chon) wrote them and for some money he had sold them. Anything can be possible but today it cannot be proved. The truth is that they are filed in the record under his name, his heirs are the ones who collect the royalties and that’s all.