Alfredo Belusi

Real name: Beluschi, Alfredo
(10 January 1925 - 1 January 2001)
Place of birth:
Quirquinchos (Santa Fe) Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

e had the look of a tough guy as imagined by Jorge Luis Borges. The appearance of a brave man of the old times, like those who used to roam between the countryside and the outskirts of town, silent and distant, who only responded before a provocation. Even though his was a peculiar case, only tango forced him to deeds. And he was the most violent of them all, because the numbers that belonged to his songbook were challenges he faced until bleeding, all chosen for that reason, except a few licenses to alleviate tensions.

If we have to name tough singers, there was no one like him. To his look we have to add his low voice, really hoarse, his stress on the r’s as if he were angry and his habit of shaking his fists at the most dramatic moments. He always became the character of the story undergoing his sufferings. So deep was his impersonation that many a time people saw him with his eyes on the verge of bursting into tears.

He appeared for several seasons at the remembered ElRincón de los Artistas on the corner of Álvarez Jonte and Boyacá. There we, a group of friends, saw him many times. He used to arrive after several artists had already made their performance. He usually had a whisky on the rocks and while he made the ice rotate in the glass he waited for his turn behind the counter. He sang and later he talked with some acquaintance of his. As he saw us frequently, one evening he sat at our table. The chat was long and I kept the memory of a confidence. He lived with his old woman, his mother, and the days he had to sing, very early he got his clothes ready by ironing his white shirt and his trousers.

The final days of his life were long, but he never knew it. By mid- November 2000 he went to see his sister who was seriously ill. This touched him deeply and all of a sudden he fainted. At the Penna hospital he was operated of a brain thrombosis on November 17. He survived with no changes until January 1. They said he was all that time regarded as NN. Days after his death a group of friends managed to find him and revealed his identity.

«I worked a lot with him, he was an excellent guy.» commented to me the pianist Osvaldo Requena; «At a time we followed the same route of the car races held on the highways of the different cities of our country. A great number of people went to those races, they crowded the place and the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays were secured. They liked his style very much. I accompanied him together with Juan Carlos Bera and Enrique Marcheto; piano, bandoneon and contrabass. He was very fond of women. We called him Pampero. That had been a Hugo Baralis’ idea when they were partners in the José Basso Orchestra. During a tour he saw him sleeping half snoring, half neighing and with a lock of his hair on his gaucho face. Baralis thought of the little horse that Patoruzito rode in the comic, always vigorous and with a forelock on its face. During recordings his easy way to intonation, his capability to find immediately his natural range attracted my attention and that was a great help for my arrangements. He was very practical even though he had almost no musical training, just ear.»

He was born in the locality of Los Quirquinchos, province of Santa Fe. At age seventeen he made his début in Rosario with the Cuarteto Los Ases led by Leónidas Montero. Three years later he joined the orchestra led by Raúl Bianchi. He spent many years with permanent tours throughout the central and northern areas of our country. From that period a demo disc was recorded, an acetate disc, with the tango “Te presentí”, written by Bianchi himself and Mecha de los Santos.

In 1953, he joined the outfit most important in the city, the one led by José Sala. With it he recorded for the first time and arrived in Buenos Aires too. During several conversations we held he told me that with this orchestra he cut fourteen numbers. Among them and, as if contradicting his style, was the sweet waltz “Desde el alma”, by Rosita Melo and Homero Manzi.

On his comeback to Rosario he had a brief tenure with the Francisco Plano's outfit at the Dancing Paradise on 600 Mitre Street, where he was announced as: «The voice that succeeded in Buenos Aires».

He left his mark in Buenos Aires and soon was summoned by José Basso; his vocalist Floreal Ruiz was the connection. It was 1956 and the début was on Radio Belgrano in June, singing the tango “Recordándote”. His recording of “De puro curda” written by Carlos Olmedo and Abel Aznar —a tango piece that seems tailor-made for Belusi— is truly a classic of our city music. Four years later he was hired by Osvaldo Pugliese. By that time Jorge Maciel was the other vocalist.

With Pugliese he recorded 17 numbers for Philips, six of them in duo with Maciel. Undoubtedly the tango “Bronca”, written by Edmundo Rivero and Mario Battistella, was the most important due to the expressiveness and the feeling of Alfredo's rendition.

In 1964, he had a second tenure with Basso. He was vocalist along with Héctor De Rosas and, a little bit later, with Carlos Rossi. They traveled to Japan and performed a great number of shows. In 1967 he recorded “Se tiran conmigo” written by Ángel Díaz and Luis Díaz. This is the tango I like most by Belusi.

Later his career as soloist started. It is worthwhile mentioning his appearance in 1969 on the stage of Caño 14, accompanied by a quartet led by Héctor Stamponi.

His relationship with Basso was quite good. An evidence of this is that the boys of his orchestra, with Requena on piano, accompanied him in his first LP, but their names were mentioned neither on the label nor on the record cover. For his two records that followed the background was played by an orchestra led by Osvaldo Requena. In his last recordings he was accompanied by the Jorge Dragone's orchestra.