Guillermo Buitrago

Guillermo de Jesús Buitrago Henríquez, known as Guillermo Buitrago (April 1, 1920, Ciénaga - April 19, 1949) was a Colombian composer and songwriter of vallenato music. He is one of the most successful composers in his country. His songs became part of the typical music played during Christmas time in Colombia. Some of his hits are La Víspera de Año Nuevo (New Year's Eve), Grito Vagabundo (Lazy Scream), Ron de Vinola (Rum of Vinola) and Dame tu mujer José (Give me your woman José).

Buitrago was an anomaly amongst the coastal residents — blonde, fair skinned, tall, neatly coiffed, tie with a perfect knot, and a ''triumphant smile'' that accentuated his prominent chin and his pronounced ears that gave away his ''paisa'' descent (his father Guillermo Buitrago Muñoz was from the ''paisa'' region of Antioquia, whose capital city is Medellín). Buitrago Muñoz had arrived to Ciénaga from Marinilla Antioquia, most likely attracted by the banana boom that had been dominating the Magdalena province's economy for several years already by that point. There Buitrago Muñoz married Teresa Henríquez and they had 7 children, 5 of which would die before turning 30, amongst them Guillermo, who would die at 29 precisely in the moment that he was about to sign a big contract that was going to launch his career internationally.

At 18, Buitrago was already working as an in-house guitarist on a program called La hora infantil on the radio station Ecos del Córdoba, on which children from all the local towns would sing, competing for a prize. Buitrago started visiting radio stations to play his music, and finally had a stroke of luck at Radio Magdalena in the city of Santa Marta, where he would gain sufficient experience for his next career step in the coastal city of Barranquilla.

Buitrago since his adolescence had sought out business to record commercial jingles. On numerous occasions Buitrago explored various opportunities to make songs to promote products or brands. Amongst numerous brand names, he recorded jingles for Ginger Ale and Cerveza Águila. Perhaps the most famous was "El ron motilón", which promoted a rum from the province of Santander, and the long-running Colombian Christmas classic "El ron de vinola", which promoted a type of sugar cane juice that was said to have similarities to wine.

7 or 8 radio shows later, along with a successful jingle ''El Negro Mendo'' that he recorded for a furniture and mattress factory, convinced the station directors to give him more air time during prime time, ultimately giving him 3 shows weekly. By 1947 Buitrago was basically living in Barranquilla. During the week he would complete his radio show commitments that were starting to flood in by this point, and on weekends he would travel to Ciénaga to visit his family and friends. Emisoras Unidas, realizing the growing success of Buitrago's music, contracted Julio Bovea, who had just split from Buitrago and had formed his own band to take on an air slot that would compete directly with Buitrago's programming. Pressed to find replacements, Buitrago contacted two musicians he had played with in years prior. With this new group, he would go on to record the majority of his hits, all of which are still known today. Guillermo Buitrago y sus muchachos, his band, had Ángel Fontanilla on lead guitar, Buitrago on rhythm guitar and lead singer, and Carlos "stumpy" Rubio on guacharaca (Rubio was missing part of his left forearm).

What came next was fame and success. Aside from radio, private parties, local fairs, serenades, by 1947 Toño Fuentes, founder of Discos Fuentes in Medellín and pioneer of the LP industry in Colombia, arrived in Barranquilla looking for Buitrago's band to take them to make a recording at his studio in Cartagena. Elsewhere, Odeón Records of Argentina had also contacted Buitrago, producing some recording that had won a strong following nationally, so much that plans were put in motion to have Buitrago and his band tour the south of the South America.

2 successful years later, Guillermo Buitrago woke up on a day in January 1949, sick and short on sleep. At first he suspected too many performances had him fatigued, but as the weeks passed by, he started realizing he had an illness that was threatening to become critical. Locals claimed he had a weakened voice and that his ''young handsome face looked like a specter with burning dark circles around his eyes''. Guillermo Buitrago died on 19 April 1949 at the age of 29 years. The exact reason of his death remains a mystery. and there is no shortage of rumors and suspicions surrounding the young singer's demise.

DiscographyEdit

His music was originally distributed in 78 rpm discs; nobody knows exactly how many songs he recorded but it is said[by whom?] to be more than 150 songs. His record producers were "Discos Fuentes", who have compiled most of his songs in LPs and CDs.

Some of the main releases have been:

Víspera de año nuevoEdit

  1. "Las mujeres a mí no me quieren"
  2. "Compae Heliodoro"
  3. "La hija de mi comadre"
  4. "Ron de vinola"
  5. "Qué criterio"
  6. "El hijo de la luna"
  7. "Grito vagabundo"
  8. "El huérfanito"
  9. "La víspera de año nuevo"
  10. "La araña picua"
  11. "Dame tu mujer José"
  12. "La vida es un relajo"

Guillermo Buitrago inéditoEdit

  1. Se marchitaron las flores
  2. La loca Rebeca
  3. Muchacha patillalera
  4. Gallo basto y pelao
  5. El toque de queda
  6. El desdichado
  7. La cita
  8. Careperro
  9. Cinco noches de velorio
  10. Las contradicciones
  11. El gallo atravesao
  12. El tigre guapo
  13. El maromero
  14. Buitrago me tiene un pique

La piña maduraEdit

  1. La capuchona
  2. Adiós mi maye (la despedida)
  3. Cienaguera
  4. La carta
  5. El testamento
  6. El tiburón de marbella
  7. El amor de claudia
  8. Pacha rosado
  9. La piña madura
  10. La varita de caña
  11. Espera que me muera
  12. El compa'e Miguel (el ermitaño).

Regalito de navidadEdit

In English (Little gift of Christmas), his long play was edited by Discos Fuentes mixing between those 12 songs of the album, four songs that were recorded after Buitrago's death by another singer called Julio C. San Juan, and thus don't belong to Guillermo Buitrago. Those songs with an asterisk belong to San Juan.

  1. Regalito de navidad*
  2. Palomita mensajera*
  3. Yo no monto en avión*
  4. El amor es un collar
  5. Las sábanas del diluvio
  6. Luis Eduardo
  7. Rosa Valencia*
  8. La peste
  9. Pacho y Abraham
  10. Los enanos
  11. El brujo de Arjona (El enviado)
  12. Moralito.

El testamento y otros cantos ineditosEdit

  1. El cazador
  2. La mujer que quiere a uno
  3. La fiera de pabayo
  4. Pacho y Abraham
  5. La costumbre de los pueblos
  6. El testamento
  7. La matica de yuca
  8. Espera que muera
  9. El dolor de Micaela
  10. La vida es un relajo

Released in 78sEdit

Some other songs that have not been released in CD or LP but just recorded in 78s (only collectors possess them) are: (they have disappeared almost completely):

  • Buitrago me tiene un pique (1st version)
  • Como se pierde se gana (bolero)
  • Compay Chaney (El zorro)
  • El bachiller
  • El bobo de la yuca (Buitrago just did backing vocals)
  • El coco rayado
  • El día de San Sebastián (El caimán)
  • El doctor Rafael Lavalle
  • El compa´e Miguel (1st version)
  • El jerre jerre - El negro maldito
  • El negro Mendo
  • La estricnina
  • La vaca lechera
  • Linda nena
  • Los panderos de Río Frío
  • Mi guayabo
  • Mil veces(Lombo)
  • Mi morenita
  • Petra la pelua
  • Santo Tomás
  • Zorro chucho, marimonda y baco

Lost recordingsEdit

The following are completely unavailable :

  • El alazanito
  • Mala noche (El negrito figurin)
  • Toño miranda en el Valle
  • Falsas caricias
  • Anhelos
  • Los choferes
  • La rosca
  • Teresa Mercedes
  • Las muchachas de buitrago
  • Ritmo colombiano (Mi Colombia) "Buitrago just did backing vocals"
  • La cañandonga

Odeón Argentina and Chile edited a few of his songs and some of that Odeón material was also edited by Discos Fuentes.

From radio advertisingEdit

Some other songs were radio advertising and they weren't commercially edited:

  • Ron añejo*
  • Ron motilon*
  • Radio document. (Advertising to promote Butrago's radio programme)*
  • Canada Dry.
  • Nutrimalta.
  • La Costeña. (A tailor shop).
  • El Colegio. (A food supplies and liquor store).
  • La piladora de Tomás.
  • Farmacia San José.
  • Farmacia Royal.
  • Almendra Tropical (A cafe).
  • Muebles la Fama. (A furniture shop).
  • Gentleman. (Colombian cigarettes).
  • La Mayorquina.(A candy store).
  • Flor del campo (A bakery).

There are some more radio advertising recordings made by Buitrago and those with an asterisk are the only 3 that have been found.

Compilation: 16 Exitos de Navidad y Año NuevoEdit

One of the latest CDs produced is a compilation and restoration of his greatest hits called "16 Exitos de Navidad y Año Nuevo". Two of the songs were cut at the very beginning and are missing a small part of the original intro. Also, percussion and a bass were added to almost all the songs, differing from the original tracks:

  1. Víspera De Año Nuevo
  2. Ron De Vinola
  3. Dame Tu Mujer José
  4. Grito Vagabundo
  5. El Huerfanito
  6. Compa'e Heliodoro
  7. El Amor De Claudia
  8. La Carta
  9. La Araña Picua
  10. La Piña Madura
  11. La Hija De Mi Comadre
  12. Qué Criterio
  13. Las Mujeres A Mi No Me Quieren
  14. Cienaguera
  15. El Testamento
  16. El Brujo De Arjona

ReferencesEdit

  1. Guillermo Buitrago cantor del pueblo para todos los tiempos (biography book), Edgar Caballero Elias, Discos Fuentes discosfuentes.com
  2. Gabriel Velez's collection.