2011 44¢ Carlos Gardel
Latin Music Legends
Issue Date: March 16, 2011
City: Austin, TX
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
The Tango is a dance of passion, and Carlos Gardel (1890-1935) was its undisputed star. Famed Argentine actress Libertad Lamarque declared “Gardel was the tango made flesh.” His enormous influence on Latin-American music earned Gardel the nickname, “King of the Tango.”
A controversy still rages whether Gardel was born in Tacuarembo, Uruguay, or Toulouse, France. His family moved to Argentina when he was two years old. All three nations have claimed him as a native son, and his impact on their cultures has been profound.
Gardel had a rich baritone voice and movie-star good looks; he even starred in European films. In 1917, he recorded the first tango sung with lyrics, “Mi Noche Triste” (“My Sad Night”). It was provocative and controversial – the ballad of a man mourning for the love of a prostitute. The song was an instant smash hit, one of over 300 tangos he sang.
Gardel performed throughout South America and Europe. In the 1930s, he arrived in New York City, where he helped inspire the success of Latin music. He is still so popular in South America there is a saying: “Gardel sings better every day.”
A gunshot wound in a bar brawl caused Gardel to sing for 20 years with a bullet lodged in his lung. Ironically, he died in a 1935 plane crash in Columbia.