Charly García

Charly García


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Charly García is one of the most talented and influential figures of Argentine and Latin rock. He composed many generational songs and was obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music, along with the musician's role itself. As a teen, he and Nito Mestre formed Sui Generis in the early '70s and issued three studio albums. After the group disbanded, García played in PorSuiGieco music collective and La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros. Between 1978 and 1982, García was part of Serú Girán, one of the key bands in the Argentinian rock movement who established themselves during a time of military dictatorship. In 1982 he composed the soundtrack to the film Pubis Angelical and recorded it simultaneously with his own Yendo de la Cama al Living. The double album was released to excellent reviews, and propelled García into a prolific career as a solo artist. He recorded dozens of albums in an astonishing variety of styles from the tight pop of Parte de la Religión in 1987 and La Hija de la Lágrima in 1994, to the experimental indie rock of Say No More in 1996 and the nocturnal electronic soundscapes in Cronicas in 2007. In 2010, he returned with Kill Gil followed by the triple-disc live collection 60 X 60 in 2012. In 2017, García resumed studio recording and released Random. Charly García was born in Buenos Aires in 1951. He began to show musical talent at an early age. At three, he received a toy piano as a gift, and soon surprised his mother with his ability to compose and play coherent melodies. She enrolled him in a prestigious conservatory when he reached school age, the Thibaud Piazzini. At 12, he graduated as a Music Professor. García developed absolute pitch as a child. In high school during the early '70s, he met musician and bandleader Carlos Alberto "Nito" Mestre. The two fused their bands to give birth to Sui Generis, who issued three acclaimed albums. They split in 1975 after playing to 20,000 people at Luna Park Stadium. The same year, García formed the symphonic rock band La Máquina de Hacer and cut two albums, a self-titled debut issued in 1976 and Películas a year later. Given their particularly critical attitude toward the military junta, their records were unofficially suppressed. After the band split in 1977, García and his girlfriend went to live off the grid in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He returned to Buenos Aires to form a band with fellow Argentine guitarist and songwriter David Lebón, bassist/keyboardist Pedro Aznar, and his old partner from La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros, drummer Oscar Moro. As Serú Girán, they recorded their self-titled debut. Between 1978 and 1982, they issued a handful of albums (including Bicicleta and Peperina) and a boatload of singles for Columbia. In 1983, Garcia produced Los Twist's debut album La Dicha en Movimiento, and recorded his own follow-up solo work, Clics Modernos, at the Electric Ladyland studios in New York. Clics Modernos had a pop/rock-oriented structure and was simpler than his previous works. The album sold extremely well but generated some controversy among critics for the sudden change in style. On this album, however, he began his longtime collaboration with producer Joe Blaney. At the end of that year he was caught up in his most well-known scandal: he pulled down his trousers in front of a hostile audience. This was the beginning of a string of controversies and helped make him a major public figure beyond just the music scene. An essential trilogy was completed with Piano Bar, launched at the end of 1984. It was recorded by one of his best touring bands, formed by GIT members and Fito Paéz on keyboards, among others. Both the public and critics liked the album, which contained hymns like "Demoliendo Hoteles" and "Raros Peinados Nuevos." In 1985, he tried to collaborate with another local rock hero, Luis Alberto Spinetta. The pair didn't get far, with only the song "Rezo por Vos" recorded. That year he took part in the Rock & Pop Festival, along with some international figures like Nina Hagen, INXS, and John Mayall. With Pedro Aznar (also a former member of Seru Girán), he recorded Tango in 1986, a six-song maxi-single that incorporated technological elements. Parte de la Religión, released in 1987, was recorded almost entirely by García himself. An exception was "Rap de las Hormigas," on which the Brazilian group Os Paralams do Succeso took part. The record was clearly a masterpiece and showed Prince's influence. Songs like "No Voy en Tren," "Buscando un Símbolo de Paz," and "En la Ruta del Tentempié" became Top Ten hits. In October of 1988, an Amnesty International Tour ended in Buenos Aires. More than 80,000 people attended the concert. Peter Gabriel, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour where there, and León Gieco and Charly García represented Argentina. After composing the soundtrack for the film Lo Que Vendrá in 1988 (in which he also played a nurse), García worked on a solo album, Cómo Conseguir Chicas, largely comprised of old, previously unrecorded material. Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma, released in 1990, was a good collection and included the Spanish version of the Byrds' classic "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better." Another scandal was just around the corner, though: Garcia was accused of a patriotic symbols offense because the LP included a version of the Argentine national anthem. In 1991, he reunited with Pedro Aznar and recorded Tango 4. The idea was to record an album with Soda Stereo's singer and composer Gustavo Cerati. Although they worked on a couple of songs, they never finished the LP. No reasons were made public. In the middle of the year, rumors indicated that García had overdosed, a fact that would later be confirmed when he entered a drug rehabilitation program. In 1992, García reunited with Serú Girán to record a collection of brand-new songs, Serú Giran '92, and perform a series of concerts in Cordoba, Rosario, and Bueños Aires. A live double-album was also released but didn't go anywhere, and García returned to his solo career. In July of 1994, he released the rock opera La Hija de la Lágrima. It included many instrumental passages and guest musicians. The public's response was great, especially when the album was presented live. From 1995 until 2001, García moved forward toward a more abstract and vanguard field embodied in an alter ego, Say No More. Although his shows were always sold-out, his records didn't sell well and were poorly received by the critics. Estaba en Llamas Cuando Me Acosté, released in 1995, was an album largely comprised of covers. The same year, he recorded and released MTV Unplugged, which proved a short-lived comeback to a more classic structure. In 1996, he released the chaotic Say No More, and the next year he reworked some of his songs with the Latin folk singer Mercedes Sosa on the album Alta Fidelidad. García seemed to be out of control and completely confused. Some old-time followers gave up on him but curiously, at the peak of his own chaos, he gained a new teenage public. All of that seemed to change in the summer of 1999 when he performed a free concert attended and acclaimed by more than 150,000 people. The show was captured on that year's Demasiado Ego release, which was his best-selling album from the Say No More era. The same year he again courted controversy by playing a show for Argentinian president Carlos Menem. The performance was recorded as Charly & Charly, a few copies of a limited-edition disc were printed, but it never went public. In March of 2000, he was again on the covers of newspapers for non-musical reasons. This time he'd jumped from a hotel's ninth floor into a swimming pool in Mendoza. That year, he reunited Sui Generis. They launched a new album, Sinfonía Para Adolescentes, and also performed a comeback show which was registered and released as a double-CD, intensely modified and reworked in the studio. With the release of Influencia in 2002, he returned to a more classic song-oriented sound, where all mixing and sound experiments where set aside. This certainly marked a farewell to the Say No More phase. The following year, before entering the studio, longtime guitarist Maria Gabriela Epumer passed away after a heart attack. The loss was profound for Garcia; he soldiered on to complete Rock and Roll, Yo, a recording as notable for its covers -- "Pretty Ballerina" and Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love" -- as for its originals, but his heart wasn't in it. Epumer's death left a great void that the audience could feel during Garcia's live shows. Not sure he would -- or could -- continue, he didn't release another record for six years, and only performed publicly twice during that period. He wasn't idle, though. In 2006, a demo began to circulate on the internet entitled Kill Gil. As a result of the music's leak, EMI refused to release it, but that was probably as much for its raw, uncommercial presentation as it was for the leak. In 2011, a much slicker finished product was submitted and issued, along with a live DVD. The following year, Garcia edited and produced the live 60x60 box set compiled from to commemorate his own 60th birthday, along with the book Parallel Lines: Artificio Imposible. In 2017, Garcia released Random, marking his return to Sony. The record achieved gold status in Argentina and scored a Top Three single with "La Máquina de Ser Feliz." EMI reissued 60 X 60 in various configurations at the end of 2019. ~ Iván Adaime, Rovi