Ricardo García Blaya
| Néstor Pinsón

legant and interesting gentleman, always gallant, penitent after the love of women, recitationist, singer and poet, Leopoldo Díaz Vélez gathers all the facets of the Buenos Aires denizen.

Our dear friend was born in the city of Buenos Aires, at the Barrio Norte, Santa Fe Avenue between Ecuador and Anchorena Streets. His house was visited by musicians and poets, friends of his father, of the level of Alfredo Bevilacqua, composer of the tango “Independencia” and Gerónimo Gradito, author of the lyrics of Vicente Greco's “El flete”.

His father transmitted to him the taste for tango. In 1925, when he was only eight, they went together to listen to Gardel to the Teatro Olimpo that was very near their home.

When he was a young kid he started writing poems and he himself tells us: «they were awful lines, at the end always somebody died... Back in 1937 we went to a ball with Julio Benítez who led an orchestra, and it was there when I suggested writing a tango to be premiered in Carnival. So my first tango was born: "Hoy quiero vivir", which was not even filed in the record».

The poet was then working at the Correo Central (Central Post Office), and there he came to know the bandoneon player Juan Spósito who was the first one to advise him to join the society of authors and composers (SADAIC). To satisfy the regulations of that institution he had to present five pieces and pass an exam. Among the pieces he delivered for that occasion, there was an interesting tango that later Ángel Vargas recorded and was titled “1910”.

His artistic beginnings were as singer and reciter, later he developed his enthusiasm as lyricist and composer, but he never gave up singing.

Even though he neither was a professional, nor he recorded any disc, he succeeded in singing with very important aggregations: Emilio Balcarce, Francisco Rotundo, Emilio Orlando, among others.

We said that his poetry was densely dramatic, almost naïve, but with the passage of time, that juvenile feature was changing into a romantic and delicate work.
As he was continuously infatuated, he suffered from unrequited love on many occasions and those circumstances served as plot for his verses.

He was after musicians for his numbers and, many times, when he was inspired, he hummed the melody that was in his head and later he sang it to someone who, finally, transcribed it to music notation.

In his early years he achieved much notoriety as reciter and he himself tells us: « I recited those milongas by Juan Manuel Pombo, “La cama vacía”, “El huérfano y el sepulturero” and others that singers used to sing in a milonga style. But with the recitation they gained an enormous strength and so I was called from everywhere, neighborhood festivals, clubs, etc».

With Rodolfo Ferreira's harmonica group, well-known because they played at the Enrique Discépolo's theater play Caramelos surtidos, Leopoldo recited and they played the background music. Then they played on radio and in many salons and neighborhood clubs. Also at the cine Mignón theater in the neighborhood of Belgrano, where stars like Ignacio Corsini, Agustín Magaldi, Azucena Maizani, among others, played as complement to the program.

On the many evenings we spent with Leopoldo in the company of Héctor Lucci and Bruno Cespi, he told us of his admiration and respect for Carlos Gardel, but he confesses to be a Charlo fan.

Ángel Vargas, besides “1910”, recorded four more numbers of his: “Boliche de cinco esquinas”, “Si es mujer ponele Rosa”, “Quién tiene tu amor” and “Embrujo de mi ciudad”.

In 1980, he appeared as singer at the balls at the Centro Lucense with the Armando Pontier orchestra. «It was very nice, because I was introduced by Armando himself and we used to do “La milonga y yo” and “Quién tiene tu amor” with an outstanding acclaim».

And he kept on telling us: «So my career as singer was very long and wery much rewarding. But my great dream was to become an author. Towards 1941 I met Luis Porcel, lead bandoneon in the Carlos Di Sarli orchestra. I went very often to listen to him. So I also knew Roque Di Sarli, Carlos's brother, who had composed a tango piece and was waiting that Carlos Bahr would write a lyric for it but as he ought to have finished it long since he asked me if I dared to. And why not! So “Llanto en el corazón” was born which soon thereafter Roberto Rufino sang».

Later he says: «By then I had composed “Muchachos comienza la ronda” whose original title was “Muchachos se armó la milonga” and that I had to change due to a regulation of the military government that banned the lunfardesque lyrics». This, his first big hit was sung by Alberto Castillo with the orchestra of Ricardo Tanturi. «When Castillo sang the tango song at the Palermo Palace I did not know him yet. But one evening I went.... And then I saw him for the first time and heard him sing my tango. When he finished the show, he approached my table and praised my number foreseeing for it a great success.....But Castillo split with that orchestra and did not record it even though Tanturi had already included it in his songbook. On August 6, 1943 Enrique Campos made his debut, and in the evening of that same day he recorded it for Victor».

With the passage of time, Díaz Vélez himself is surprised when SADAIC informed him that he had over four-hundred numbers filed, and more than the half of them were committed to record, with a great acclaim abroad for several of them.

The most outstanding and successful voices sang his numbers: Charlo, Tita Merello, Alberto Castillo, Enrique Campos, Alberto Podestá, Floreal Ruiz, Miguel Montero, Armando Laborde, Héctor Mauré, the trio Los Panchos, etc.

Since 1944 he was a member of the commission of Ceremonial y Homenajes of SADAIC, his duty is, among other things, to say farewell to the remains of the deceased members.

A great friend and companion of all the members of the group of collectors, he was, undoubtedly, one of the great romantic authors of our city music.