Abel Palermo

e was born in Barracas, and his fathers moved to San Isidro when he was three months old. Maybe after Gardel, has been one of the tango vocalists most famous and requested in Latin America.

Since early age he was inclined towards music; he had a devotion for singing and guitar playing. He made his debut at age 17 on Radio Prieto accompanied by the guitarists Disario, Durante and Deluchi. He later switched to other radio stations.

He had a baritone range, an afflicted voice with special color, perfect diction and good looks. He was developing his labor as soloist until maestro Mario Azerboni called him in 1938.

After a brief tenure with Edgardo Donato he joined the Enrique Forte’s orchestra. Because of Francisco Fiorentino’s fame he no longer used his true name and started to appear as Raúl Iriarte.

In the early 1943 Alberto Podestá split with Miguel Caló and joined the Pedro Laurenz Orchestra. Because of that they began to look after a substitute.

The author Oscar Rubens suggested Raúl Iriarte’s name to Caló and they went to see him. After hearing him the leader hired him and on May 17, 1943, Raúl Iriarte cut his first record: Oscar Rubens’ and Alberto Suárez Villanueva’s tango “Es en vano llorar”. On the other side: the beautiful Piana’s and Manzi’s tango “De Barro”, with Jorge Ortiz on vocals.

At Iriarte’s debut, the orchestra led by Miguel Caló was lined-up by Osmar Maderna on piano; Enrique Mario Francini, Aquiles Aguilar, Antonio Bogas and Mario Lalli on violins; Domingo Federico, Armando Pontier, José Cambareri and Felipe Richiardi on bandoneons; and on double bass, Armando Caló.

He soon reached success and managed to impose on the public two Carlos Bahr’s numbers, “Mañana iré temprano” and “Cada día te extraño más” that he recorded on August 10, 1943. The following year Raúl Berón returned to Caló after his tenure with the Lucio Demare Orchestra. The orchestra has the same level of public acclaim like the ones led by Aníbal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli and Juan D'Arienzo at a time when the teams of singers were very important.

In the late 1945 the orchestra had a great loss when the principal players, Osmar Maderna, Domingo Federico, Francini and Pontier quit to put together their own orchestras. But the collaboration of Iriarte and Berón allowed the orchestra to continue with its success.

Later, for a short time, the vocalist Luis Tolosa joined them to replace Raúl Berón, who switched to the Francini-Pontier Orchestra. Thereafter Iriarte will share the singing role with another correct vocalist: Roberto Arrieta. At that period Iriarte made new hits with the tangos "Nada", "Tabaco", "Trenzas" and "Marión".

During his tenure in the orchestra led by maestro Caló, between May 1943 and December 1945, they recorded 43 numbers and only 7 instrumentals.

In the late 1947 some impresarios requested him to appear as soloist. Iriarte split with Miguel Caló and his last recording was “Óyeme”, a masterpiece written by Homero Expósito and Enrique Francini.

He made his debut on Radio Belgrano in 1948 with the accompaniment of the orchestra led by the bandoneonist and arranger Ismael Spiltanik.

In 1949 the outfit of the pianist Armando Lacava backed him and in 1950, due to his great popularity, he traveled to Chile, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico, to finally settle in Colombia. In 1956 in Mexico he surpassed all previous estimations and carried out one of the most brilliant stages of his career. The success of this tour, started in 1954, peaked with a notable season at a theater of the Federal District. Among his fellows of the cast the outstanding Mexican actress Marga López appeared to advantage. As well he performed at the famous cabaret “El Patio” where with the accompaniment of the group led by the bandoneon player Luis Álvarez he recorded the tangos “Prohibido” and “Noche de locura”, both written by Manuel Sucher and Carlos Bahr. The tour ended in Mexico in 1957 and he traveled to Cuba hired to appear on television, radio stations and cabarets of the island.

On his comeback he bought a large barroom and restaurant in downtown Bogotá in partnership with his bandoneonist Luis Pérez Álvarez.

Acclaimed and admired in all the places where he arrived at with his voice and pleasant way, he was one of the most important ambassadors of Argentine tango.

In the whole American continent his name was extremely popular. So much so that on the radio programs that aired tango music only were included Iriarte's and Gardel's records. His most polished numbers with Miguel Caló were undoubtedly the key to such boom. A key that launched him to a market which then listened to the bars of "El plebeyo", "La vi llegar", "Me duele el corazón" and other pieces of remarkable quality.

He came back to Buenos Aires in February 1972 to record again with Caló: "La mentirosa", "Nubes de humo", "Un lugar para los dos" and in duo with Arrieta: "Mis flores negras" and "Todos vuelven". On May 24 that same year the great maestro Caló died of a heart attack.

Iriarte returned to Colombia, where he was based, continuing sporadically his show business career. On some of his tours he was accompanied by a line-up led by the pianist Osvaldo Berlingieri.

As for 1977 he quit singing to devote himself to the job of entrepreneur. He organized tours and was advisor for different Argentine tango figures, such as Juan Carlos Godoy, Armando Moreno, Roberto Mancini. He organized a great number of the homages to Gardel in Medellín in which the most important tango names appeared.

On August 24, 1982, nearing his 66th birthday, due to a serious illness he died in Bogotá, Colombia.