Pedro Ortiz

Real name: Ortiz Villanueva, Pedro Luca
Nicknames: El Turco
Singer lycricist and composer
(12 February 1932 - n/d)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón
| Nélida Rouchetto

t is an old custom among the Argentines to refer to all the Spaniards as Galicians («gallegos»), the Italians are «tanos» (Neapolitans), the Jews are Russians («rusos») and those who have come from the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries) are Turks («turcos»). And Peter, besides the genes he inherited from his maternal ancestry, looked like an Arab and furthermore, became popular when he turned out to be the only one among our singers that sang tangos in Arab.

Son of a man of La Rioja and a Spaniard, he was born in the Federal Capital. When he finished high school he was attracted to journalism, possibly, for the fun of sharing those special moments in the editorial office of a newspaper or for the wish of experiencing the moods of so peculiar milieu.

He began when he was just a teenager and continued for several decades. The well-remembered evening paper Noticias Gráficas was his first job and there he came to know José Barcia, a writer and a manifold journalist. Among his capabilities we highlight his tendency to dive into the history of our city and to pay attention when someone seemed to be interesting. And that happened with Pedro. When he heard him humming, he insisted that Pedro should do it professionally.

His work always sailed on easy waters, according to his temper. Maybe he never dreamed of a smash hit just around the corner. His debut may be located in the middle of the huge neighborhood of Balvanera, in front of Plaza Miserere, where Ecuador Street begins, at a local named Copacabana. Thereafter he appeared on the radio stations Del Pueblo, Mitre and Porteña.

As for his work as journalist, he wrote for the popular magazines Radiolandia and El Alma que Canta. He was member of the theater casts in which tango was present and, around the 60s, he succeeded in appearing in several television shows. He had already begun to study the Arab language at several institutions, according to Nélida Rouchetto, at the Islamic Center, the Alauita and at the Arab League. When he thought he had reached an adequate level he attempted to translate a tango songbook and to sing it in that lanaguage.

By that time a radio program named Música en el Aire —on Radio Mitre— was very popular. It did not air tango music but its emcee, El Gallego Rodríguez Luque, was also producer and owner of the Disc Jockey label. Such a circumstance led Pedro to the recording studios with incredible musicians: Carlos García (piano) and Horacio Malvicino (electric guitar). They became the Abdulah Malvigar —the group that backed the singer— and in 1961 the first Arab tangos were released. They were four: “Adiós pampa mía” and “Marinera” and the zambas “Debajo de la morera” and “Luna tucumana”.

Later came his first tour of Egypt and Syria because he was invited by the goverment of those countries. On his comeback there was a tour of Brazil and he appeared in a great number of television and radio shows. In one of them, with the accompaniment of the Mariano Mores orchestra, he sang “Cuartito azul” in Spanish and in Arab. For the Almalí label he recorded around twenty tracks with traditional tangos and others of his own. Nélida Rouchetto said something about it: «“Apocalipsis” belongs to Pedro Ortiz. It has lyrics by Carlos Marambio Catán and was published by EDAMI. He himself premiered it in an event held at the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo. Marambio Catán had recently died and his widow was present at that event. Also he composed “Adiós a la casa vieja” with words by Alfredo Bigeschi, published in 1974. “El zaguán y tu recuerdo”, with lyrics by the poet Nicolás Cocaro. “Les cuento muchachos”, lyrics by the humorist Salvador Estriano who died a few days after he had written it. “La piel de Buenos Aires” bears words by the owner of the Almalí label, Javier Mazzea. The singer recorded three times this number which was also committed to disc for Columbia by the Alfredo De Angelis orchestra with Marcelo Biondini on vocals. “Pará la oreja muchacho”, here the lyrics belong to Ortiz and the music was composed by Ernesto de la Cruz. “Vieja postal“”, words by Pedro and music by Alfredo De Angelis. “De piel y de tango”, music and lyrics by Pedro Ortiz».

This is a short portrayal of a simple and patient character which spends his time with journalism and music and devotes himself mainly to tango, as should be expected. He was the messenger of our culture in places where he only had the courage to go.