Carlos Gardel was a prominent French Argentine Singer, Songwriter and Composer. He earned his legacy as one of the most important figures in classic tango alongside lyricist Alfredo Le Pera.
Carlos Gardel Charles Romuald Gardes was born on December 11, 1890 in Toulese, France. Gardel was born out of wedlock of Berthe Gardes and Paul Laserre. At the age of three, Gardel and his mother moved to Buenos Aires. Gardel spent his early childhood in poverty; he would roam the streets and the local marketplace in his free time. At the age of sixteen, Gardel dropped out of public school and found interest in singing. At this time, he was being mentored by José Betinotti, who was a folk song expert. By 1910, Gardel established as a folk song and Creole Milonga expert himself, and started performing regularly in many of the city’s restaurants and cafés, including the popular O’Rondemann café.
Gardel’s early career started in 1911 in collaboration with José Razzano and singer Francisco Martino, with whom he toured and performed in Argentina’s clubs and gatherings. Gardel and Razzano continued touring from 1913 to 1915 when Martino left. At this time, Gardel survived a scare, he was shot in the chest at point blank range after an argument in a club; nonetheless, Gardel made full recovery and resumed touring with Razzano in 1916. Gardel teamed up with songwriter Pascual Contursi to write his most famous tango song ever, “My Sad Night”. The song turned out to be a favorite in clubs and gatherings and it was released on record soon. Gardel’s extensive success with his first tango record urged him to further his work in tango, and so by 1921, Gardel’s name was used in parallel to two of his biggest hits, “Medallita de la Suerte” and “Mi Noche Triste”. The Gardel and Razzano duo, amid extensive touring all over Europe, had to split up in 1925 as Razzano had serious throat problems, and thus Gardel established himself as a solo artist.
He teamed up with Alfredo Le Pera in 1932, and the duo would become extremely popular in all of Latin America. Some of their popular tango compositions included “Por Una Cabeza”, “Mi Buenos Aires Querido”, “Solidad”, “Melodia de Arrabal”, and “Los Panchos en Buenos Aires”.
Gardel was also an acclaimed film actor, his first full length feature film, “Luces de Buenos Aires” was released in 1931 and it helped propel many of his songs, including the Argentine hit “Tomo Y Obligo”. Gardel also released films with La Pera, including “Esperame” and “Melodia de Arrabal”. Besides this, he landed a deal with Paramount studios which helped him release a series of shorts which became highly popular in the Spanish market.
Carlos Gardel met a tragic end on June 24, 1935. While on tour in Columbia, his plane crashed during takeoff and everyone on board was killed. Gardel’s funeral procession in Buenos Aires was attended by thousands, all of whom had gathered to say goodbye to “The King of Tango” one final time.