Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Death of Gastón Bueno Lobo

The article by Jorge Carvalho de Mello mentioned in the previous entry has for the first time published a copy of Lobo's death certificate, shown above. In this document the time, place and actual cause of Lobo's death is officially documented. Moreover, de Mello has tried to reconstruct Lobo's last hours alive and what happened immediately afterwards from consulting newspaper articles covering Lobo's death. Further, his research also has revealed a few other interesting details about Lobo's personal life at the time of his death. Of importance, he mentions that Lobo at the time lived a married life with his wife, Dna Iracema Lobo (aged 35), in Ramos, a suburb of Rio de Jainero, and even the exact address is noted. Some sources further state that the couple lived a life in harmony and had good relations with everybody that knew them, the marriage had no infants.

On the 2nd of June 1939 Lobo left his home in Ramos in the morning, well dressed and by his own car obviously heading for his job at Radio Mayrink Veiga. However, he did not go to work but went along in his car following the highway from Rio in direction of São Paulo and stopped the car at a quiet place (- the exact address is stated in the death cerificate) where he left the car and sat down nearby. He had brought with him a jug containing a toxic liquid which he then svallowed, this caused his death immediately. His body was found by a bypasser a little later, the police was called and the corpse was identified by a police superintendent. Meanwhile, his wife had searched for him at Mayrink Veiga, at hospital and even the morgue but without results. - In the pocket of Lobo's jacket was found two handwritten notes, one of them expressed disillusion with his life, quote (-in Portuguese):

"O lugar onde me encontro não tem importância, apenas procurei um lugar tranquilo. E assim se resume uma existência de atribulações. (a) Gastão Bueno Lobo." [- in English approximately reads: 'The place I am found is of no importance, only that it's tranquil. And hereby a life of tribulations is summarized. (signed) GB Lobo']

The other note in Lobo's pocket reads, quoute:

"Levo uma grande saudade de minha esposa. Enfim, lá nos encontraremos." [in approximate English: 'I led a big longing for my wife. Finally, there [- in death] we will find ourselves [- be united]']

The secound note seems to hint at a troublesome marriage, but this contradicts the above mentioned statements from newspaper articles claiming that Lobo and his wife led a life together in harmony. Whatever the exact meaning of the message in Lobo's note, we only know his wife's testimony regarding his suicide. She was quoted for telling the authorites that her husband had felt depressed for some time following bad news from his work at Mayrink Veiga, however, the exact circumstances were unknown. Lobo's supposed depression was confirmed by colleages at Meyrink Veiga, but no one had expected such a drastic end. - The funeral of Lobo was held 03 June, all expenses were covered by Radio Mayrink Veiga and friends and colleages followed the cofin to rest at the cemetary of São Francisco Xavier. A colleage was quoted saying: 'Miserable of Gastão! I knew him and lament his so deplorable end'.

There's a tag or coda to the tragical end of Lobo's life at 48 years of age. The police not only found the two mentioned notes in his pockets but also a page of handwritten musical notation of a composition titled 'Se Recordar é Viver' (- in English: 'If Remembering Is Living') by Gastão Bueno Lobo and Laurindo Almeida. This composition was recorded by vocalist Roberto Paiva on 10 August 1939 and released on Odeon 11848-A in May 1940 as a tribute to Lobo despite the somewhat ironic title commenting his life and tragic end.


The above and the previous entry summarizes the main contents of Jorge Carvalho de Mello's mentioned aricle, we owe his detailed research great respect and gratitude. If readers of this summary in English are tempted to read the original text in Portuguese, we encourage you to pay a visit at de Mello's blog by clicking here.


Gastón Bueno Lobo (1891-1939)

Researching the early years of Oscar Alemán's career we have earlier put focus on his relationship with the Brasilian guitarist Gastón Bueno Lobo, as this relationship had an enduring impact on Alemán. The relationship between Lobo and Alemán was discussed in an article devoted to Lobo, but since the publishing of that article new info on Lobo's life and career has unearthed thanks to the research by Jorge Carvalho de Mello, professor at the University of Rio de Jainero. The first results of de Mello's research was published a couple of years ago and is available in an article translated into English at Daniella Thompson's website with the title 'The Man Who Introduced The Banjo to Brazil'. However, recently de Mello has published further info on GB Lobo at his blog revealing previously unknown details in a new article (- in Portuguese) with the title 'GASTÃO BUENO LOBO - o homem que introduziu o banjo e a guitarra havaiana no brasil- seus mistérios, sua vida.' - This article is the background of this and the following entry that aims to summarize the now documented info on the life and career of GB Lobo. For details on the sources of the info below the reader is pointed to de Mello's article including extensive notes. Further, some of the inserted pictures here are copied from de Mello's blog.

From published newspaper articles related to the death of GB Lobo in 1939 his year of birth is stated to 1891 and the place to the city of Campos in Brazil. However, no info about his family and infancy is available from these or other known sources, further no info about how he got involved in music. The first reference to his musical career is found in articles mentioning his travel to Hawaii where he likely learned to play the Hawaiian guitar from natives. The time of this adventure is stated to the first decade of 1900 further supported by a saying of Pixinguinha, who claimed that Lobo was the person that introduced the banjo in Brazil around 1910. This saying also points to the suggestion that Lobo visited the US mainland during his travel to Hawaii; the banjo was a novelty instrument at the time and an American invention. The next chronological mentioning of Lobo is from an article in a book describing the bohemian nightlife of Rio de Jainero in the first decades of 1900, here Lobo is listed as one of the persons participating in gatherings of poets, artists and musicians at Cariocan night cafés. At this time Lobo apparantly was living in Rio de Jaineiro, but still no actual details about his personal life and musical career. Another article about famous guitarists in Rio at the time also lists Lobo together with the names of Canhoto, João Pernambuco, Jaci Pereira, a.o.

It is generally known from the documented details on Oscar Alemán's early years that he met Lobo in Santos, Brazil, and the year 1924 has been mentioned as the time of their first encounter. However, we still don't have info about the circumstances that brought Lobo to Santos, if he was living there at that time or just passed through that city to seek jobs as a musician. Whatever the circumstances, the encounter with Alemán resulted in a partnership and the formation of the Les Loups duo. The duo had its professional debut in Rio de Jaineiro 1926 that was followed by a tour of Brazil including performance both in Bahia and Pernambuco, North East of Brazil. During this tour Les Loups were engaged by Argentine commedian Pablo Palitos, who brought the duo with him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for engagements at theatres. Les Loups were also featured at radio and had success with their performance as a Hawaiian duo, which resulted in a contract with the Victor record company. A series of 78 rpms were recorded 1927-1929 as listed in the online Alemán discography
In 1928 Les Loups were engaged by Harry Flemming's company that toured Argentina with the 'Hello Jazz' show, and in February 1929 Les Loups went with Flemming's troup for a tour of Europe, which brought the duo to several countries performing as Hawaiian guitarists in Fleming's show. The tour ended in Spain early 1931 where Les Loups left Flemming's company. For some time the duo tried to find work on their own but had little success which resulted in Lobo's travel to Paris, France where opportunies of finding work might be better. Alemán was left behind in Madrid where he tried to find work on his own as a soloist or sitting in with various bands for gigs. While in Paris, Lobo went for a rehearsal as a guitarist with the Josephine Baker orchestra, but was put down by the members of the band. Some of the musicians in Baker's orchestra, however, knew his former partner and proposed that Alemán had the job instead of Lobo, which Josephine accepted and had arranged. The circumstances concerning Alemán's decision to accept the offer from Baker is well known, at first he wouldn't accept out of respect for his partnership with Lobo, but in the end he choose to say yes - and was hired. What happend to Lobo after he was rejected by Baker's musicians, however, has been rather undocumented in sources about Alemán, but the research of de Mello has unearthed interesting details.

The shown picture of Lobo above was shot after Les Loups had dissolved, according to the quoted source in de Mello's article it was made in Monte Carlo where Lobo had a career as a tap-dancer for some time and even won contests that declared him a king of tap-dancers. The same source (- a newspaper article from 1938) also mentions that Lobo, when asked about his partnership with Alemán, never would mention his name again! According to the quoted source, Lobo thought that Alemán had given himself up in favour of the show-biz world of Europe. This, if anything, points to Lobo's disappointment following the rejection by Baker's band and the successful career of Alemán in Europe!

Lobo returned to Brazil in 1932 - not because of a decease as suggested by some researchers, but probably because of disappointment with the European music scene and lack of opportunities of finding a steady job. His return to Brazil seems to have been a clever decision as he soon found work again, both as a featured musician on radio and as a recording artist. An extensive documentation of Lobo's activities from 1932 to 1938 is given in de Mello's article from research of radioprogrames and available discographical data in Brasilian archives, however, here we'll just list some of the most notable events.

First Lobo is featured with other musicians and vocalists on 08 May 1932 in a program at Radio Phillips do Brasil and again on 05 June, but from October 1932 he apparently changed to Radio Mayrink Veiga, the biggest and most prestiguous radio station of Brazil at the time and situated in Rio . Lobo is featured first time on Radio Mayrink Veiga on 23 October 1932, again togther with other artists, among them the renown Ary Barroso, and from then on and to the end of his life he stayed at Radio Mayrink Veiga and gradually advanced from featured performer to organizer of studio ensembles and even conductor of his own Original Orquestra from 1934. - At the same time Lobo's recording career started again. He cut 10 sides in 1932, 8 for Columbia and 2 for Victor, the recordings are listed in de Mello's article with available info on personnel. Some of them have Lobo as a soloist playing Hawaiian guitar in performance of music that both covers pieces by others and compositions by Lobo alone or in co-operation with others, an example of this is featured on the above shown 78 rpm disc by Os Namoradas da Lua, in which Lobo plays the Hawaiian guitar in a string ensemble setting.- However, his advancing career at Radio Mayrink Veiga seems to have stopped his recording activity on a regular basis from 1933 on. In 1933 he is a featured performer at Radio Mayrink Veiga in a couple of programs March and April, but from March 1934 he has advanced to director of his own Original Orquestra. Next notable step is taken in June 1935 when the Conjunto Havaiano was presented for the first time on 04 June as part of a music program. Lobo probably had taken the initiaive to the formation of the ensemble that was featured regularly with success in programs at Mayrink Veiga 1935-36 and beside Lobo had Garoto, Laurindo Almeida and Aimoré as regular members, all well known and highly respected musicians at the time. In 1937 Lobo then formed a Concert Orquestra at Mayrink Veiga and was its director during progams on-air, three times this orquestra accompanied Laurindo Almeida as a soloist playing the Hawaiian guitar under the direction of Lobo.

Lobo's co-operation with Almeida continued in 1938 and included his last recording session. On 20 May 1938 Lobo and Almeida accompanied by guitarist Tute cut two sides for Odeon issued on a 78 rpm (Odeon 11.649), one side contained the composition 'Inspiração' by Almeida with Lobo as featured soloist on Hawaiian guitar, the other side had Almeida as a soloist on guitar in his own 'Saudade que Passa' accompanied by Lobo and Tute. - However, in 1938 Lobo's activities at Radio Mayrink Veiga decreased, he was only featured in three programs during January to March that year, either as a soloist or accompanying other featured artists. His previously dvancing success at the prestiguous radiostation seems to have stopped rather abrupt and unexpectedly. Maybe this was the actual background of his suicide in June 1939. At least some information regarding this tragical end of his life and career point in that direction according to de Mello's published research of this final event.

(to be continued)