Charly García, singer, composer, producer, pianist, songwriter, prodigy, madman, visionary, brilliant, tormented…pure gold.
Carlos Alberto García Moreno was born on October 23, 1951 in Argentina. He came from a wealthy family. When he was 5 years old he was enrolled in the Thibaud Piazzini conservatory in Buenos Aires, where he was trained as a classical pianist. He is a piano prodigy. One night, Mercedes Sosa heard him play and praised his talent. His first musical debut was on his participation in Raúl Porchetto´s album “Cristo Rcok” in 1972. Then, along with classmate Carlos Alberto “Nito” Mestre he formed Sui Generis.
El tuerto y los ciegos – Sui Generis
“La mediocridad para algunos es normal, la locura es poder ver más allá.”
Now this is complicated because I could just write a post about Sui Generis and how much they meant to me when I was a teenager. They were in a way, My Beatles in Spanish. I loved them. Like some smells, Sui will always take me back to a place in the past. The duet released three albums, “Vida”, “Confesions de Invierno” and “Pequeñas Anécdotas sobre las Instituciones”. Also, a live album from their farewell concert in 1975. The band broke up for several reasons, one of which was Charly´s anxiety attacks. If you are not familiar with them or want to listen to more of their songs, I found this 20 song playlist on YouTube.
In 1974, Charly, Raúl Porchetto, Nito Mestre, Leon Gieco and María Rosa Yorio (Charly´s romantic interest at the time) went out on tour and after that recorded an album called “PorSuiGieco”. The Album was censored by the government of the time. After that, Charly went on to released two albums with his symphonic rock project “La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros”. (The Bird Making Machine – The Machine to Make Birds…which ever sounds better to you since this is my free translation )
Cómo Mata el Viento Norte – La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros
The group was not big at the time, it was the beginning of the Military Junta but with the passing of the years, it was progressive rock and a little too early for its audience of the time, but since then it has gained national and international recognition. The novelty was having two simultaneous keyboards on stage. They were influenced by Genesis, Pink Floyd and as Charly once said they wanted to be the YES for underdeveloped nations.
The political atmosphere in Argentina was very scary, Charly was having more anxiety and didnt want to go out or talk, he was scared he would make it to the black list and feared for his life and also because he was going to be a father soon. Miguel Angel García was born, but the marriage with María Rosa did not make it, and she would end up hooking up with former bandmate from Sui Generis (Nito Mestre). The band made 2 albums: “La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros” in 1976 and “Películas” (1977).
Between 1978 and 1982 Charly was the leader of an important Argentinean band and another favorite of mine, Serú Girán.
Viernes 3 am – Seru Giran
After a stay in Brazil, Charly Came back to Argentina and formed a new band with former Máquina bandmate Oscar Moro (drums), David Lebón (guitar and voice) and talented a talented nineteen year old bass player, Pedro Aznar. The music is brilliant and portrayed the situation in Argentina under the military junta. The band released 5 records “Serú Girán” (1978), “La Grasa de las Capitales” (1970), “Bicicleta” (1980), “Peperina” (1981) and “No llores por mi, Argentina” (in 1982). They won different awards during the years and their biggest hit was “Seminare”.
In 1982 Charly started his solo career. He did the soundtrack for Raúl de la Torre´s movie “Pubis Angelical” and then released that as a double album with “Yendo de la Cama al Living”. His first stdio album and in my top 3 personal favorites.
Yendo de la cama al living – Charly García
The album was presented in front of 25.000 people on December 26, 1982. Charly arrived on the stage on a pink cadillac, snag the iconic song “No Bombardeen Buenos Aires” (Do not bomb Buenos Aires). Iconico because it was during the Falkland islands war and had guest artists like Mercedes Sosa, Pedro Aznar and Nito Mestre and Andrés Calamaro on keyboards. The album was a huge success and very influential in Latin American rock music.
In 1983 Charly released “Clics Modernos”. It was more pop – rock than his previous work and was introduced in Luna Park Stadium featuring Fabiana Cantilo and a young man from Rosario, Fito Paez on keyboards. It was not as well received as the previous album, but it has a song considered to be one of the best songs in Latin music and on a personal note, the reason I paint dinosaurs “Los Dinosaurios”. It is an anti – establishment song against the military junta.
Los Dinosaurios – Charly García
“En aquella época la música fue para mí una forma de seguir viviendo un sueño en medio de la pesadilla que era la realidad”.
In 1984 he released “Piano Bar” which include his classic hits “Demoliendo Hoteles” and one of my favorites, “Raros Peinados Nuevos”. In 1987 came “Parte de la Religión”, which critics consider his best solo album. Through the eighties he would also collaborate in projects with different artists, make soundtracks, and tour the world, achieving international celebrity. In 1989 he released “Como Conseguir Chicas”. In 1990 he released “Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma”. The track with the album name is also one of my favorites. He released more albums (Radio Pinti, Tango 4, La Hija de la lágrima, and MTV Unplugged album, Say no more, Alta Fidelidad (with Mercedes Sosa), El Aguante, Influencia, Rock and Roll yo, Kill Gil , some good, some bad and to be honest, to many to go into detail, but every single one of them has hidden treasures and his genius mark.
Despite his talent, Charly has always been a polemic figure because of his mood swings, which ended up affecting his live performances, getting mad and stomping out because there where sound issues, he has always been very outspoken regarding politics and current events and personalities, scandals for different reasons in Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Quito, Costa Rica and others, like the time he jumped 9 floors into a Hotel pool , forced psychiatric stays in Mental Institutions (he has been diagnosed psychotic, paranoid and with schizoid personality). To top it all off, throughout his career he has battled a long and strong drug-addiction. He has been ordered to rehab far too many times, has had scandals revolving his addiction, appeared under the influence on stage, sang one song and left, forgotten lyrics, has had trouble with the media, other artists and his family.
Right now he is in rehab again. This is a video from this year of Charly recovering from hip surgery and playing in a tribute for Gustavo Cerati. He has had some good concerts through the years. Some calm moments. I think Charly has too much light and too much darkness, and keeping that balance can make anyone live life under different terms. It is no excuse for what he has done, but I could never judge him, how could I? He has been with me since my teens, a refuge, a friend, his lyrics had made me laugh, cry, think, love. He is like an uncle, whose influence is there, who sometimes makes me embarrassed in front of my friends, but hey…he will always be my family.
The song I am closing with he wrote with Luis Alberto Spinetta. Basically, the two most important figures in Argentinean rock and also very important in Latin American music. The song talks about wounds healing, burning up in love love and wishing that on someone else. That is what I wish for Charly. That is my prayer for him.