Ricardo García Blaya

hen in 1973 I saw Rubén Juárez for the first time on television, I realized I was in front of a new star of popular song. Not only because of his assurance and the beauty of his voice, but mainly, because of his personality. He even played bandoneon. And what was more, he did it well.

To place ourselves within context, we were beginning a decade very special in many aspects, but besides it still was very difficult for tango. As for Rubén or myself, we were a little over twenty years old and were fond of a musical eclecticism that combined the folk music of the early 60s with Julio Sosa, The Beatles and the Argentine rock.

When Julio Sosa El Varón del Tango, died, the tango scene was without major names with the only exception of Polaco Goyeneche who stole the spotlights and the then promising appearance, of an actress that was venturing into singing: Susana Rinaldi. After them, the remains of the great soloists that had shone in the 40s trying to survive with more or less dignity, and beyond there was nothing at all.

Because of that, I totally agree with the chronicle written by the poet Héctor Negro that appeared on the Los Grandes del Tango magazine: «When his appearance in the great tango scenery took place, there was a kind of celebration by old and new devotees of the genre, authors of various generations and different expectations, broadcasters, commentators, musicians, people...

«He was one of the rare cases when a young and new was accepted without resistance, almost unanimously and recognized as a figure of promising future. His abilities as singer did not allow a hint of a doubt; his strength of interpretation, his presence and personality were striking, as much as that pleasantness and that charm that is generally necessary to win.

«The truth is that his name began to be warmly recognized in the tango milieu. It was the voice that people had been waiting for. Furthermore, he played bandoneon, and nicely. This added a special appealing feature to his personality. Then came the test of recording and he did it successfully. He dared to play new themes and demonstrated that he could even be showcased with the classics.... From scratch he evidenced his gifts as composer, and that he later confirmed widely. He designed and created shows... He appeared at the movies, succeeded in the interior of the nation and abroad and before he was able to realize it, he had already become a true star of popular song and show-business ».

He was born in the province of Córdoba and when he was two-years-old his family moved to the city of Avellaneda, very near the Federal Capital. At the age of six he began to study bandoneon and guitar. In 1956 as bandoneonist he joined the Orquesta Típica (tango orchestra) of the Club Atlético Independiente, one of the most important soccer teams in Argentina. When he was a teenager he joined a rock group, when that genre was still sung in English.

Without even thinking of it, he began his professional stage when he won the contest for singers organized by a neighborhood local. He came to know the guitarist Héctor Arbelo, accompanist of the well-known singer Julio Sosa, who had died a short time before and together they made a series of tours throughout the provinces. On one of those trips he met Horacio Quintana, who had been a singer in the Lucio Demare orchestra, who was pleasantly surprised by the vocal qualities of the young artist.

Since then an important relationship is born. The friendship with Quintana was the key to open for him the doors of the most important scenery of the seventies: Caño 14 and the possibility of releasing a record.

In fact, on June 2, 1969 he recorded for the Odeon label the tango “Para vos canilla” composed by Horacio Quintana himself and lyrics by Julio Martín.

In the early 70s Nicolás Mancera, the conductor of the most popular program of television: Sábados circulares invited him to the TV show. Soon, all of a sudden, success comes. His name is launched to the highest levels of popularity. Everybody is talking of the new phenomenon.

His trips abroad began. He sang in Venezuela, Colombia and Uruguay and recorded a long-playing disc per year.

In 1978 he was awarded his first Disco de Oro (Gold Disc) and appeared on the Spanish television with a striking success.

In 1981 he played at the Trottoirs de Buenos Aires in Paris and later in the United States.

He had the privilege of being accompanied by the aggregations led by the greatest musicians of that period, the maestros Carlos García, Armando Pontier, Raúl Garello, Roberto Grela and Leopoldo Federico.

Another important facet of the artist is his condition of creator of shows in theaters and cafés-concert. So were born “Mi bandoneón y yo (Crecimos juntos)” with the playing of the actor Eduardo Rudy; “Cosas de negros” and “Cantame la justa”, with the singer Raúl Lavié; “Cantata en negro y plata” and “Zorzales de exportación”, with the composer and singer Chico Novarro.

He shared the stagelights at Café Homero with the unforgettable Roberto Goyeneche and other tango greats, such as the pianist Osvaldo Tarantino and the singer Angel Díaz El Paya.

As for interpretation, his rendition of the tango “Dandy” is a true re-creation. The same happens with his composition “Mi bandoneón y yo (Crecimos juntos)”, his dramatic “Pasional” or the sweet describing painting by González Castillo, “El aguacero (Canción de la Pampa)”, just to name a few numbers. We can as well mention “Mañana iré temprano”. But his summit, his smash hit was “Café La Humedad”, written by his friend Cacho Castaña.

His work as composer is interesting but of a somewhat uneven quality. We can stand out “Mi bandoneón y yo (Crecimos juntos)” (1969) with lyrics by Julio Martín, and “Qué tango hay que cantar” (1986), with Cacho Castaña. Also belong to him: “Toco y me voy” with Juanca Tavera; “Se juega” and “Candombe en negro y plata” (1982) with Chico Novarro; “Pedro Esperanza” (1983) with Juanca Tavera; “Después del ensayo”, “Vientos del ochenta”, “El segundo violín”, “Mi tiempo feliz”, “Tiempo de madurez” (1987), “Cuestión de ganar” and “A tres bandas” (1990), all them in collaboration with Tavera.

He was the owner of Café Homero where he went on delighting us with his bandoneon and his appealing personality. His voice no longer has the strength or the brilliance of his beginnings but his seduction and sympathy were still alive, making us emotionally vibrate in each tango.