Abel Palermo

e was born in the city of Santa Rosa, province of La Pampa. In the early thirties he decided to settle in Buenos Aires to make true his dream of being a tango singer.

He was a virile interpreter with a clearly-defined baritone range and possessed a delicate phrasing and subtle expressiveness. For him, singing was something he was able to do without effort, naturally, without hesitation.

In 1937, he made his debut in the Roberto Zerrillo orchestra alongside the female singer Elsa Medina on Radio Belgrano. Two years later there were some changes in the orchestra personnel. The pianist Emilio Barbato quit and was replaced by the Uruguayan César Zagnoli. The other members of the aggregation were Juan Bibiloni, Jacobo Dojman, Reynaldo Nichele and N. Asandú (violins), Armando Brunini, Alberto García, Alberto San Miguel and O. Croce (bandoneons), Francisco Vitali (double bass).

As from 1940, the orchestra began to record for the RCA-Victor company and the vocalist was featured in several numbers of an uneven and eclectic songbook which, I think, was quite poor.

Some of these recordings were: “Melodía oriental”; the pasodoble “Radioamor” written by Juan Carlos Howard, Zerrillo and Enrique Cadícamo; the polka “Federico a casa”, by the above composers and words by F. Federico; “Aquel preludio de amor”; “Nunca y siempre” by Zerrillo, Fernando Martín and Héctor Marcó; the foxtrot “Yo te canto” by Charles Trenet and Paul Misraki; the milongas “El Pardo Anselmo” by Roberto Ratti, and “Negrito mazamorrero” by Mario Perini and Julián Ortiz, and “Ahí va Catanga” by Humberto and Atilio Constanzo and Celedonio Flores. By that time they used to appear at the cabaret Casanovas on Maipú Street to great acclaim.

In the early 1944, he split with Zerrillo and switched to the orchestra fronted by Juan Carlos Cobián who had recently returned from the United States. With the composer of “Mi refugio” he cut three recordings: “Rubí”, “Rosa carmín” (Cobián and Cadícamo) and “No hay barrio como mi barrio” (Orestes Cúfaro, Francisco De Lorenzo and Carlos Bahr).

By the end of that year he was summoned by Rafael Canaro with whom he recorded “Garúa”, “Trenzas”, “Tortazos” and “Sin palabras”. Thereafter they embarked on a tour across Spain. There the singer was widely acclaimed to such an extent that he decided to settle in the Spanish peninsula.

In 1947, he joined the Celia Gámez’s theater company as singing lead actor. He was starred in two films: La Próxima Vez que Vivamos, with Ana Mariscal and Fernando Rey; later in La Guitarra de Gardel, with Carmen Sevilla and Agustín Irusta.

Thereafter he settled in Alicante where he opened La Peña Amigos del Tango and in those lands he came to know the one who later would be his wife, Julia Bocigas.

He signed for CBS-Columbia and released his first long-playing record entitled Milonga para Gardel in which his renditions of the tangos “En esta tarde gris”, “Yira yira”, “Cobardía” and “Gricel” stand out. That company demanded him to record Latin American pieces, especially, boleros and Brazilian songs. Due to the success of his record the recording company sent him on a tour of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Miami, Mexico and Brazil.

He appeared in shows of the Spanish television along with great international stars: Charles Aznavour, Raphael, Nati Mistral, Lola Flores, Mina, Julio Iglesias, among others. In 1969 he appeared in the prestigious Raúl Matas show along with Nat King Cole. Other figures that appeared in that show were Antonio Molina, Manuel Escobar, the unforgettable comic actor Gila, Luis Aguilé and Alberto Cortez.

Also in Alicante he founded La Casa del Espectáculo Tango Bar where his friends Carlos Acuña, Dyango, Joan Manuel Serrat, among many other artists, appeared.

He was master of ceremonies, together with Acuña, of the evenings that general Juan Perón organized in Puerta de Hierro during his long exile in Spain.

As time passed his public appearances became scarce and he only displayed his vocal artistry in private reunions with peers and friends or in his Peña El Pampero, until he finally retired.

Besides being an excellent singer, he was a tango ambassador and a true representative of the human quality of the Argentines. Regrettfully, in his own country he did not receive the recognition he would have deserved but his artistry was well known in Spain where he is still remembered with affection.

Before his retirement, in 1991 he visited Argentina with his wife because he wanted that his family in La Pampa would know her. Beside her —and his beloved friends— he died in Alicante, his adopted land.