He was known as the El Elvis argentino and El Gitano but millions more knew him as Sandro de América. Roberto Sánchez, who crooned to a generation and became one of the biggest stars of popular music and cinema in Latin America, has died.
You might not have heard of Sandro. While he was one of the biggest selling Spanish-language musical artists in history (outselling all others in the world in 1969), and the star of 16 films and several telenovelas, he was not widely known outside of the Spanish-speaking world. He began his career as something of an Elvis impersonator, singing tunes by the King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Rolling Stones in the mid-1960s. As he ventured into his own signature tunes, he gained famed as one of the stars of popular/youth music in Argentina, the man who hybridized Anglo-Saxon rock with Spanish romance and pop.
While you might not “see” Elvis in his style, he captured the essence of that 60s male crooner, sex-symbol, rock idol archetype an image he projected to his adoring fans (known as “las chicas”). In an English-language context, he was much like a Robert Goulet, Tom Jones, or Englebert Humperdink, people who appropriated a popular musical image and style and made a career out of it. Here he is with one of his biggest hits, “Rosa, Rosa”:
But in terms of his popular impact and longevity, he was bigger than all the Elvis-derived performers rolled together. Here he is as a middle-aged man, performing his biggest hit (“Quiero Llenarme de ti”) to the grown-up “chicas” at his famous 25th anniversary performance:
Sandro–who received a lung and heart transplant last November–died of an infection. He was 64.