Charly García is one of the most talented and influential figures of Argentine and Latin rock. He composed many generational hymns and was always obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music and the musician's role itself.
At the age of four he started attending piano lessons. He was deeply into classical music. All that changed when discovered the Beatles and the Byrds. While he attended secondary school he met Nito Mestre, with whom he formed Sui Generis in the early '70s. They only released three studio albums but it was enough to settle García as a key figure of the just-born rock scene. They disbanded in 1975 and a year later he took part in PorSuiGieco with other folk-rock figures. It was not quite a proper band and they launched just one album. La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros was his next group, clearly influenced by symphonic rock.
Between 1978 and 1982, Charly García was part of Serú Girán, one of the key bands in whole Argentinean rock movement. They recorded five albums while the country was under the government of a sordid dictatorship. The band provided a subtle space of resistance.
García's solo career began in 1982. He was asked by film director Raúl de la Torre to make the soundtrack to the film Pubis Angelical. Simultaneously, he recorded Yendo de la Cama al Living. Some personal songs can be found on it, like "Inconsciente Colectivo" and "Yo No Quiero Volverme Tan Loco." At the end of that year the album was presented in a highly produced show. The extremely good response to that show proved that García was on the right way.
In 1983, he produced Los Twist's debut album La Dicha en Movimiento, and recorded at the Electric Ladyland studios in New York his follow-up solo work Clics Modernos. It had a pop/rock-oriented structure, simpler than previous works. The album sold extremely well but generated some controversial critics by this sudden style change. On that album, he began his longtime collaboration with producer Joe Blaney. By the end of that year he starred his most well-known scandal: in front of a hostile audience he pulled down his trousers. García became the subject of innumerable controversies and also helped to settle him as 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, among others, by GIT members and Fito Paéz on keyboards. Both public and critics acclaimed the album. It contains some instant hymns like "Demoliendo Hoteles" and "Raros Peinados Nuevos."
In 1985, he tried to make a collaboration with another local rock hero, Luis Alberto Spinetta. The project didn't go 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 Seru Girán former member), he recorded Tango in 1986, a six-song maxi single where they incorporated technological elements.
Parte de la Religión, released in 1987, was an album recorded almost entirely by García himself. An exception can be found in "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, the Amnesty International Tour finished in Buenos Aires. More than 80,000 people attended the concert. Peter Gabriel, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, and Youssou N'Dour where the international figures while León Gieco and Charly García represented Argentina.
After composing in 1988 the soundtrack for the film Lo Que Vendrá (in which he also played a nurse), García worked on his following solo album, Cómo Conseguir Chicas, largely comprised of old songs not previously recorded.
Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma, released in 1990, was a good collection of song, which included the Spanish version of the classic from the Byrds "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better." Another scandal was knocking at García's door: he was accused by the local Justice of a patriotic symbols offence since that 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 that work. No reasons were made public. In the middle of that year, journalistic rumours indicated that García had a strong overdose, a fact that would be later confirmed as he entered in a rehabilitation program.
In 1992, García reunited Serú Girán. They recorded Serú '92, a collection of brand-new songs, and did a series of concerts in Cordoba, Rosario, and Buenos Aires. A live double album was released but nothing much happened and García reinitiated 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 album caught some controversial critics but the public response was great, especially when it was presented live.
From 1995 until 2001, García seemed to move forward to a more abstract and vanguardist 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, a short comeback to a more classic-oriented 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 started to leave him but curiously, at the peak of his own chaos, a new teenaged public began to grow. His next album, launched in 1998, El Aguante, did nothing to change the situation.
All of that seemed to change in the summer of 1999 when he did a free concert where he was acclaimed by more than 150,000 people. This show was captured on that year's album Demasiado Ego, that was his best-selling album from the Say No More era. The same year he did another controversial act by giving a show for the Argentinean president Carlos Menem. That show was reflected in Charly & Charly, a limited-edition disc that never went public. Just a few copies were printed.
In March of 2000, he was again on the covers of newspapers for non-musical reasons. This time he jumped from a ninth hotel floor to a swimming pool in Mendoza. In that year, he reunited Sui Generis. They launched a new album, Sinfonía Para Adolescentes. They also did a comeback show which was registered and released as a double CD, intensely modified and reworked in studio.
With Influencia launched in 2002, he returned to more classic song-oriented album, where all the mixing and sound experiments where left aside. That was certainly the farewell to the Say No More phase; Charly García was back again. ~ Iván Adaime