Javier Martínez, Argentine rock pioneer, dies at 78

The drummer and lead singer of Manal was a key figure in the establishment of the country’s Spanish-speaking rock scene

(File) Buenos Aires, Argentina.- The drummer, singer and composer Javier Martínez (photo), one of the driving forces of the legendary Manal trio that invented blues in our language, died this Saturday (4) at the age of 78, as a consequence of the worsening of health problems that he had had for a long time and that were detected after being hospitalized last Thursday due to a fall at home.

Javier Martínez, an Argentine rock icon who led the pioneering band Manal in the late 1960s, died on Saturday in Buenos Aires at the age of 78.

The musician’s sister announced his death on his Facebook account, with a quote from him that said “When you don’t have anything else to say, the journey of becoming silent begins”.

Martínez was hospitalized last Thursday after a fall at home and was later transferred to an intensive care unit in a different medical facility when his condition worsened. The cause of death was not disclosed. 

Back in the late 1960s, Martinez played the drums and lead voice in Manal, a jazz and blues-influenced trio he formed with Claudio Gabis (guitar) and Alejandro Medina (bass). Together with Los Gatos and Almendra, the group was one of the most influential bands that shaped Argentine, Spanish-speaking rock, featuring now-classics like Jugo de tomate frío, No pibe, and Avellaneda Blues.

Back in the early 1960s, Martinez had been a part of the bohemian scene around La Cueva, a Buenos Aires bar that became a regular late-night hangout for other rock pioneers like Sandro, Litto Nebbia, Tanguito, and Moris. The latter joined Martínez in Los Beatniks, one of his previous bands, in 1966.

The short-lived Manal released two albums, Manal and El León, in 1970 and 1971, and broke up soon after. Martínez moved to Barcelona in 1972, where he formed Esqueixada Sniff. He returned to the country for a brief Manal reunion and a series of concerts in 1980, which resulted in Reunión, the band’s third and last album, released a year later. He moved to France in 1983, and earned a world record for continuous drum playing in 1985, in a benefit concert where he played for 41 hours and a half.

Back in Argentina, he released a handful of solo albums, including Sol del sur (1983), Corrientes (1993), Swing (1998), Pensá Positivo (2015) and Concierto en el estudio (2020). Together with guitarist Pino Callejas he released what became his latest album Darse cuenta in 2021. 


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald