Nicknames in Tango

Any of us are familiarized with the nicknames of tango artists but we don’t always know its true reason. Because of that I decided to start a research about some sobriquets, not only of those very popular artists but also of those that today are almost unknown and, due to its curiosity, to comment them is worthwhile. Although many legends or made-up stories about them are known, the ones presented here were told by them personally or through their friends or relatives. For this reason we think that they possess a greater veracity.

Juan D'Arienzo: Grillito and El Rey del Compás In his beginnings he was violinist, and there is an unanimous agreement in regarding him as a mediocre instrumentalist. To such an extent it was that someone began to call him Grillito (Little Cricket), because the sounds he got from the strings were like the noises this insect produces. With the passing of time it was forgotten and was replaced by El Rey de Compás, referring to the pungent beat that characterized his orchestra.

Francisco Canaro. Pirincho and El Kaiser From his book Memorias: «At the moment of my birth, my mother was assisted by a midwife named Sara who, when she saw me, exclaimed: «he looks like a Pirincho!», which is a bird with a tuft. And ... it seems that I was born with my hair in an upright position. Before my name I was called that way». In the Sopena dictionary we read: Pirincho; name given in the River Plate area to a kind of gray magpie with black wings. His siblings and his musicians began to call him El Kaiser, due to his energic temper and his attitude of leadership. They recalled King William I, Emperor of Germany from 1871 to 1888, whose government was hard and inflexible, inspired in the policy of his chancellor Bismarck.

Carlos Di Sarli: El Tuerto Not at all pleasant turned out the nickname thrown at him. This story dates back to the time when he was only 13 and took place at his father’s gunshop in Bahía Blanca. Unfortunately one of the employees accidentally shot a gun and wounded little Carlos. The employee was called Roberto Bognoni, he was a man very dear to the family, but in his desperation he left his job and the town. The kid needed surgery and they put a platinum plate in his head and advised him to wear dark glasses, which later would be characteristic element of his image.

Vicente Greco: Garrote His brothers Domingo, Ángel and his sister Elena were also musicians. Instead, his brother Fernando was a butcher and was a stout man. Even though his temper was peaceful, when some impolite bothered him he would strike him some blows without asking permission. His blows were so heavy that in the neighborhood he began to be known as Garrote (Big Stick). Vicente soon was known in the milieu as «Garrote's brother», to finally supress the word brother and leave only Garrote. Another version holds that Garrote comes from a heavy stick that Vicente carried to show off.

Juan Maglio: Pacho «When I was a kid my father, who was Italian, used to call me crazy in his dialect because of my capers. In fact he called me «pazzo» and as my playmates failed to pronounce correctly that word they uttered «pacho». My nickname became widely known and so they kept on calling me that way; the nickname even surpassed the family name». Maglio's outfit was so popular that Francisco Pracánico told us about an event that happened in his early days as musician. He had to play with one of his first groups and the owner of the venue ordered to print some posters announcing: «La orquesta típica de PAnCHO», with a small n, so that at first sight it would be mistaken with Pacho, with the purpose of attracting a greater audience.