Domingo Rullo

Real name: Rullo Basílico, Domingo Antonio
Nicknames: Mingo
Bandoneonist. lyricist and composer
(26 July 1920 - 27 November 2001)
Place of birth:
Arias (Córdoba) Argentina
Eduardo Sibilin

hen Rullo was five years old, for the first time he saw a bandoneon in the hands of a «famous» character who had arrived in town. That well-known player was no less than Juan Maglio Pacho. From that moment on, that instrument was his life passion.

At age eight he moved to the city of Rosario in order to study with another «famous» man of Rosario, Juan Rezzano.

With some boys of his gang he joined an orchestra of his town and played at balls and local parties and in neighboring towns. They hired a singer from Venado Tuerto named Jorge Fuertes, who later would be the lyricist of the tango “Lucienne” and of a waltz for the golden wedding anniversary of Mingo’s parents, both with music by Rullo.

In 1938 he appeared with that group at a ball in Venado Tuerto, where they played before Roberto Zerrillo orchestra’s performance. That bandleader encouraged him to travel to Buenos Aires.

And so he went to the capital city. At the Academia run by Luis Rubistein he auditioned to join the orchestra led by Tito Ribero. After that, as member of that orchestra, he backed up great tango figures like Hugo Del Carril on radio, records and in the movies in which he was starred.

They also backed Libertad Lamarque, Laurita Esquivel, Dorita Davis, Mercedes Simone, Charlo and many more.

In March 1941 he switched to the orchestra fronted by Miguel Zabala «Zabalita», and his appearance was no less than at the Chantecler cabaret, where he came to know one of the most technically accomplished bandoneonists of Rosario who was member of the five-bandoneon section: Antonio Ríos.

The mâitre was a Cuban guy named Ángel Sánchez Carreño, but he was known as Príncipe Cubano. The latter wrote the lyrics for his best-known tango: “Seamos amigos”, which became an anthem for the Rullo’s family and the town of Arias.

In 1944 Rodolfo Biagi summoned him to join his orchestra with which he appeared on Radio Splendid, at the Marabú cabaret, carnival balls in Montevideo, recordings and, especially, the above: “Seamos amigos” and “Lucienne”, both with Alberto Amor on vocals.

In the mid- 1946, Mario Canaro suggested him making a tour of the interior, up to Salta. A Bolivian impresario suggested them to appear in Bolivia, but as Canaro had engagements he returned, and the remaining members of the orchestra now under the name Los Embajadores del Tango continued. They later went to Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

When he came back to Argentina, in 1948, he worked with Edgardo Donato until he was called from Lima again. He traveled for a six-month contract but he stayed there for the rest of his life. There he knew the woman who would be his wife later and he settled in Peru.

With his orchestra he backed all the artists who arrived in the Peruvian land. He was music teacher and composed a large number of songs, from tangos: “Tengo que agradecer”, “Escuchame pibe”, “La casa de la amistad”; to Peruvian waltzes like: “Latidos de amor”, “Ay Paquita”, “Te dedico este vals”, “Esta noche [b]”, “Polillita” (with lyrics by Chabuca Granda), and many more.

Due to his friendship with another maestro who played in his orchestra, Rodolfo Coltrinari, they decided to team up as Coltrinari – Rullo orchestra, with Roberto Tello on vocals. With it they appeared at balls, parties and recorded discs.

According to the book Memorias de bandoneón, he took part at the homage paid to one of the best bandoneonists he came to know, his fellow player in the Miguel Zabala orchestra: maestro Antonio Ríos. It was on October 12, 1981 and, among others, Gerardo Quilici and Alfredo De Franco were there. On that occasion the tango “A Antonio Ríos” was premiered. It was played by Héctor Catáneo with Omar Torres’s bandoneon, and the trio led by maestro Ríos also performed.

In 1996 he was awarded the prize «Diana», for his 50-year career. He was as well the conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Peruanidad.

He passed away in Lima, Peru, on November 27, 2001.

Excerpted from the book Memorias de bandoneón, based on Domingo Rullo’s life, told by Rullo himself and by Víctor Yánez Aguirre. Ediciones Maribelina of the Casa del Poeta Peruano, July 20, 1997. Lima – Peru.