Néstor Pinsón

his Rosario artist met music while a teenager, when the estribillistas (refrain singers) were to appear in the orchestras and the De Caro brothers had not yet made their innovating appearance that would cause another turning point, the definitive one, in the musical history of tango.

When over half century later he was asked about present tango, he said: «A new modernist theory that is based on a cerebral, but twisted tango has arisen. The work of the consecrated artists of the first stage has been underestimated to open the way to a music of hardened technique which is not popular. Among the musicians that interpret it there are great names, but they have spoiled the rhythm of true tango».

Already with the experience acquired through the years, he wrote a synthesis of its history in 140 lines. In the final octave he states:

I stand up here, on the corner
of the neighborhood of my memories
like someone who, inebriated,
waits for the night of the new year.
A bandoneon with yellowish
keyboard accompanies me
because tango is in my blood
and because it is criollo and is ours.

He made a living of music, but he did a little bit of everything. The chronicles said he was a jack of all trades, but if in something he stood out it was as a lyricist and, although he was always after a poetic halo and maybe he thought he had reached it, he was a skilled maker of verses. Furthermore, he knew how to find the melody makers to enhance them. Another facet, along almost all his life, was the union work.

To sketch some aspects of his artistic history, his autobiography cannot be ignored: Mis 50 años con la canción argentina (My 50 years with the Argentine song). He was the eldest of five siblings, their father died very young and he only studied up to fourth grade of grammar school. At age twelve he was already working in a factory, working for forty daily cents, plus a package of the product per week at half the price. Later, but already for forty pesos a month, he entered the flour firm Molinos Fénix.

Reading was always far more than children games for him. A necessity to partly palliate his forced lack of schooling. Poetry caught him early and at age fifteen he was diving in the secrets of rhyme. Also, by then, music: «I dared to study an instrument, the guitar that I began to pluck but I never learned. I have guided myself with some chords and by my ear to achieve a melodic guide. My early compositions to accompany my words were sung by me or whistled to some musician friend so that he would write them on the staff. One of my first tangos with lyrics by the violinist Adelio Zeoli dates back to 1923, I entitled it "Mala mujer". Time later came my first classic, with music by Juan Rezzano, "Duelo criollo" that Gardel and so many others recorded».

In 1923 he began his appearances on radio, it was on LT3 Radio Sociedad Rural de Cerealistas of the city of Rosario. He sang and recited his own poems. As singer he had to fight against the weight of already outstanding names such as Héctor Palacios, Agustín Irusta, Agustín Magaldi and others. Reciting he reached a certain acceptance. His name was Lito García Ferrari but a speaker suggested to him a sobriquet. He almost became Lito Gallardo but a married couple who were actors and reciters arrived in the city, she captivated him, her name was Gloria Bayardo. Not only did he adopt her name but also his longings for acting were encouraged. With the passing of time he found out that she also used a nom de plume.

He worked for a music house. Since March 1922 he had become a friend of Magaldi's. He was always a Libertad Lamarque's friend, they lived on the same block and they went together to the school round the corner of their house.

On radio he recited accompanied by Santiago París on piano and he sang forming the Bayardo-Natale duo with the guitarist Roussy, the same one that accompanied the beginnings of Magaldi along with the singer Espinosa.

His boss sent him to Buenos Aires to deliver a card to Julio De Caro who was to appear in Rosario soon. When De Caro met him the former asked him about the city and also about two singers that he would need for his tour. He offered his trio, his new group: Bayardo-Rossi-Roussy. The leader listened to them and accepted them. It was in October 1928 when they made their debut in a theater. For the boys of the trio it was an artistic adventure, then each one returned to his habitual activity; René Rossi as chauffeur, Roberto Roussy as artisan and Lito as employee in a music house.

De Caro again summoned him for the carnivals of 1929, at the Teatro Ópera of our capital. He appeared as the orchestra's estribillista along with Luis Díaz, Roberto Caldas and René Rossi, each one with holding a megaphone. The following year he was present again, this time at the Cervantes theater.

It was by that time that he came to know Gardel on occasion of the recording of “Duelo criollo”. An anecdote: Gardel was worried by the poor figures of the sale of his records in Rosario. After some research Bayardo gave him his opinion. It happened that Gardel's label, Nacional Odeon, released several disks monthly at 3,25 pesos and the competitor label, Victor, not more than one or two per month. For that label Magaldi —also born in Rosario— and Rosita Quiroga recorded and their records were sold successfully, each one at 2,50 pesos. Those of Victor were sold without problems, those by Gardel were chosen and the public in general bought one or two. The market in Rosario didn't allow for more. Gardel answered to him: «Do you know what'll I do? I'll leave and I'll get lost for a time in Europe and on my comeback I'll bring some hit».

In 1934 he settled in Buenos Aires, his first three friends were Dante A. Linyera, Celedonio Flores and Luis Rubistein. Soon at a café he met Antonio Molina who directed a native group of radio soap opera, popular plays mixed with songs. He needed an actor and singer and so he went to Radio Stentor for two months, there he acquainted Nelly Omar, Molina's wife. The Navarrine brothers auditioned him since they were the leader's partners.

Then José González Castillo proposed to him a stint on Radio Splendid, so he was getting the necessary money for his living. The following year he read an ad published in a newspaper by the Teatro Odeón. Enrique Susini was about to stage a version of Romeo and Juliet, he got a small role playing the Montague Abraham. Later in The Marriage of Figaro, but the pay was scarce and Molina required him again for his Argentine Sketches, now on Radio Belgrano. There a friendship with the singer Alfredo Lucero Palacios was born.

By that time he was introduced to a young pianist, also from Rosario, who had come to accompany the female singer Fanny Loy, married to Domingo Gaeta who used to teach dancing by mail. They decided to form a trio modeled after the one lined up by Irusta-Fugazot-Demare. The latter trio when they split up gave them all their songbook. They offered their work on all the radios but to no avail. The last station they tried was Radio Prieto and there their insistence allowed them to appear. They achieved a good recognition. So much so that when they finished the cycle José Razzano, also a friend, helped them to get another work. He recommended them to Pablo Osvaldo Valle, director of Radio El Mundo. It was 1937 and they were hired for two months at 3000 pesos, he also offered them the staff guitarists of the radio station, the Puccio brothers. They appeared for five years with the accompaniment, among others, of the guitarists Spina, Alberro, Edmundo Porteño Zaldívar and the pianist Juan Larenza. They also appeared with the Alberto Gambino's orchestra, they are the trio that accompanied La Mejicanita in her initial presentations.

Lito’s career continued with diverse gigs on radio soap operas, cycles as reciter in clubs and circles and with his own programs like Glosas del caminante, daily aired by Radio Splendid. From then on his major concern was his activity in SADAIC that even allowed him to take several trips to Europe. In one of them he knew Carlos Vicente Geroni Flores, already ill. The latter gave him his last tango so that he would write a lyric and he commended him, as a posthumous legacy, that he would try to have it recorded. It was “Flor de pena”, recorded by Eduardo Del Piano with Roberto Bayot on vocals.

Since 1939 and for twenty years he was seized by a new passion, playing paddle ball at the Club Oriente, located on 800 Tucumán Street.

He shot two anodyne movies and because of his friendship with Homero Manzi he appears alongside Hugo del Carril in Pobre mi madre querida. The scene was when in a circus they are challenging each other in a payada; Hugo (playing José Betinotti) and Lito with eyeglasses for the occasion, in the role of Ambrosio Río.

His appearances were becoming rather occasional, his main activity was to continue creating a large number of lines that would become songs. Once he said that they were about three thousand, but he only filed in the record 1.020. Not only tangos. We might as well say that there was no rhythm that had escaped from him.

Some of his lyrics that were committed to record were: the tangos “Cuatro campanadas”, “Duelo criollo”, “Nueve de julio (Bayardo)”, “Mi cotorrito bohemio”, “Esta noche”, “Incertidumbre”, “Una vez”, “Mi flor de noche”, “Mi cotorrito”, “Déjame soñar”, “Con la otra”, “La canción”, “Tapado gris”, “Amar hasta morir”; the rancheras: “¿Qué hacés Patoruzú?”, “Che vieja, pasá un mate”, “La mentirosa [b]”, “Mala racha”; the zambas: “Adiós amor”, “Rosario de Santa Fe” (zamba), “Hermano gaucho”, “Mama vieja”; the waltz “Flores del alma”, among many others.

His books: Sueños azules (poems), Tierra gaucha (poems), Glosas del caminante (poems), Los autores del recuerdo (rhymed sketches), Los pregones (poems), Color del tiempo (tales of Buenos Aires), Mis cincuenta años con la canción argentina (autobiography).

As singer he recorded about 25 numbers. In a duo with Lucero Palacios, with Osvaldo Moreno, with the Típica Víctor, with Mario Maurano and a dozen of his poems accompanied by the guitarist Aníbal Arias.

La Nación, the newspaper, published a brief obituary on Saturday March 8, 1986: «At age 81, last night Lito Bayardo committed suicide with a shot in his head, in his home on 771 Montevideo Street, 3rd. floor, as informed by police sources...»