The heir of the great poet
Augusr 4, 2013
On the night of Saturday, July 27, 2013 the world of tango suffered a great loss.
Acho Manzi, a poet, a musician, and a very dear friend of mine died in Buenos Aires at the age of 80. Acho was the son of the great Homero Manzi and he devoted much of his life to keep alive the memory of his father.
Acho was born Homero Luis Manzione on March 6, 1933 in the neighborhood of Boedo. He inherited his father’s poetic vocation and at age 15 he collaborated with his father penning the lyrics of El ultimo organito
Acho was 17 when his father died. In 1954 he wrote a poem entitled Father.
Fleeing the burden of being the son of Homero Manzi, he choose the anonymity of an adventurous life in the United States. Far away, he put away memories of another life and the dream of becoming a poet. But the experience of confronting himself a cancer diagnosis changed his plans.
Some friends who moved to Spain, left him a huge ranch home in California. He went into a downward spiral beginning to feel discouraging physical symptoms. We got together once week at my house in Sunnyvale, and took turns to cook fro each other. He couldn’t decide whether to go ahead with the treatment recommended by the doctors. Then he met an Argentine woman who was doing tango research, they became friends, and that was a magical encounter for him. She convinced him of the need to take care of his illness.
He returned to Buenos Aires, got treatment, and beat the cancer. He married Marilu, a wonderful woman and they had a daughter which he named Malena, like the famous tango written by his father. We kept in touch and he was there in 2005 during our Katrina exile, inviting us to spend Christmas with his family. Then in 2008 he joined us at Club Sunderland for the celebration of my birthday. We last saw him in 2009 when we met him at the offices of the Society of Authors and Composers to discuss the possibilities of handling the North American offices of royalties collection.
He was among the first to call Valorie to offer his unconditional support when I suffered an almost deadly cardiac arrest in Calgary. Knowing that I had been in an induced coma for 48 hours, he asked me a week later, “Did you see my dad by any chance?” His deadpan sense of humor was something we both always cherished and were proud of, in good and bad periods of our lives.
The news of his death came late and took me by surprise.
I paraphrase verses he wrote about the loss of his father, to express my sadness for the enormous vacuum Acho has left in our hearts when he departed unannounced to his eternal rest. The pain that chokes my heart is so intense that I have not been able to shed any tears until this moment…
Acho, my brother in tango, how much we’re going to miss you.
Yesterday you were just a gentle and sad giant
Merciless claws ripped you away from me
You left in an instant without saying good bye
You never compromised the way you lived.
You accepted that one day we cease to exist
You were among the first to rejoice when I almost bit the dust
In a world where it is easier to forget
Forgetting you is not an option for me.”
Valorie and Acho rejoice as I blow the candle at Club Sunderland, April 19, 2008