Named after his father, and changed first from Rodolfo to Rodolfito and later shortened to Fito, Fito Páez is the musical genius behind the highest selling rock album in Argentina’s history. But this rock star didn’t get his start in the big city as you might expect. The city of Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe, is where Páez calls home.
After starting his first band, ‘Staff’, at the tender age of 13, Páez began touring with several bands straight out of high school. A chance encounter with contemporary rocker Charly García lead to an artistic push.
His first album, ‘Del ’63’, was released in 1984. With Páez as songwriter, vocalist and pianist, it was an impressive first effort. The disc won him critical acclaim as a musician and led to back-to-back album releases in 1985 and 1986.
Despite all of his success however, it seems even the famous can’t avoid tragedy. Páez’s life was changed forever when former classmate and musician Walter De Giusti, broke into Páez’s family home and, crazed with jealousy and suffering from mental illness, brutally murdered his aunt and grandmother.
Páez poured all of the pain and anger he felt into his 1987 recording, ‘Ciudad de Pobres Corazones’. The album marks a clear change in his work but showed greater songwriting depth than his earlier recordings. With a more rhythmic sound and profound lyrics, the entire feel of the album is dark and skeptic.
Fast forward to 1990 when his style changed once again. In his album ‘Tercer Mundo’, Páez explored Latin American roots and cultural influences, showing the harsh world of poverty and exploitation through notes and words. This album provided the launch pad for his best-known record, ‘El Amor Después del Amor’. The pinnacle of his commercial success; the album sold more than 750,000 copies.
Today he can be credited with having written all and personally produced several of his 21 albums. A Latin GRAMMY winner, Páez has left an indelible mark on the Argentine rock scene, and has even tried his hand at filmmaking. ‘Vidas Privadas’, which was both written and directed by Páez, is a controversial film about incest, set in the time of Argentina’s military dictatorship. His latest contribution to the music scene, ‘Confiá’, was released in 2010 and is yet to be followed up.
Not one to drop out of the spotlight, Páez’s recent comments in local newspaper ‘Página 12’ inspired something of a backlash. Following the July reelection of incumbent city mayor Mauricio Macri, Páez offended porteños by declaring, “half of Buenos Aires disgusts me.” By ‘half’ he was referring to those he considers to be the wealthy and aloof.
As he says in his most famous album, “no one can and no one should live without love.” To keep the love coming his way, perhaps Páez should stick to expressing himself in songwriting or scriptwriting, or something that will help maintain his success and not hurt it…
Genre: Rock and roll
Dates active: 1979 – present
In his own words: “The fear of death is what keeps me alive.”
Most famous song: El amor después del amor
Best lyric: “I will have to do what is and not proper, I will have to do good, I will have to do damage, don’t forget that forgiveness is divine, and to err is something human.”
Famous for: Selling over 750,000 copies of a single album earning it the title of the highest selling rock record to date in Argentina
Best to listen to: When you are feeling poetic