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Carlos Gonçalves

(N. 3 June, 1938 - M. 23 March, 2020)

Carlos Gonçalves, full name is Carlos dos Santos Gonçalves, was born in Beja on June 3rd, 1938.

His father played mandolin and he influenced him, so soon he was fond of music. He played clarinet on a band from Beja called “Capricho”, but his great passion was the Portuguese guitar. He was used to listen the sound’s guitar played by experts as José Nunes and Raul Nery on radio broadcasting of Emissora Nacional.

He came from a humble family and his family didn’t have radio, so when he was 14 years old he usually went to a tavern nearby and listened a 20 minutes programme of Fado and Guitar Shows. He had good hearing and memory to music. He memorized some melodies and as soon as he arrived home he tried to reproduce the melodies that he has heard on radio. He learned how to play Portuguese guitar being a self-taught person and having a huge technique skill.

In 1957, when he was 19 years old was already an excellent player of Portuguese guitar. At that time he came to Lisbon and bought his first guitar on a shop in Rossio called "Santos Beirão”. Before that, he used to borrow one. At the age of 20 years old he became a professional player. He performed at Café Lisboa, but his début was at “Adega da Anita", a restaurant owned by Anita Guerreiro in Parque Mayer, where he accompanied Anita Guerreiro and Júlio Peres. Later he went to perform at "Lobos do Mar" restaurant in Calçada de Carriche.

He went to the army in Beja, then in Évora and finally in Queluz. He had signed a contract to play at the fado house "A Viela" where he performs every night. This contract was his income to support his family. Later he performed together with Lucília do Carmo, Maria Teresa de Noronha, Argentina Santos, Beatriz da Conceição, Fernanda Maria, Fernando Maurício, Alfredo Marceneiro, Fernando Farinha, Carlos Ramos, Max at the restaurants "Márcia Condessa", "A Toca", "Severa", and "Folclore", and in this Fado house, Carlos Gonçalves goes abroad to Europe together with other artists who sing at this place, having a great success in Switzerland.

Between 1968 and 69, he became player of the group who accompanied Amália Rodrigues on her performances, on which Fontes Rocha was the conductor. Musical arrangements to Amália’s performances denote his technique and musical perception. The lyrics of some songs like "Grito", "Ai Maria!" and "Lágrima" (1983) were of Amália’s authorship. Or even "Obsessão", lyrics of Francisco Bugalho, were great hits of Amália Rodrigues.

Carlos Gonçalves accompanied Amália Rodrigues on live recording and studio recording performances in the best stages and televisions all over the world. The success echoed on the Fado’s panorama.

He travels around Europe to accompany Amália Rodrigues. He goes even to Japan in 1970, 1976, 1986 and 1990, to Australia in 1972, to Brazil in 1972, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1983, to Canada, etc. In 1990, when Amália was commemorating her 50 years of career, he travels to Spain (Cordova, Granada, Madrid and Santiago de Compostela), France (Paris), Switzerland (Genoa), Portugal (São Carlos Theatre and Funchal), Israel (Telavive), Índia (Goa), Macau, Coreia (Seul), Japan (five shows in several places), Belgium, USA (New York and Italy).

According Pedro Caldeira Cabral, "Carlos Gonçalves has undoubtedly great performing skills and musicality on Lisbon’s tune” (in "A Guitarra Portuguesa", p. 265).

Carlos Gonçalves confesses: “I’m very demanding and critic with my work and usually I don’t like to listen myself. That’s why I never sang solo but always together with other players.”

On October 16th, 1999, Carlos Gonçalves, accompanied by Carlos Macieira (bass guitar), did a concert at Casa do Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa, named "O Fado na Guitarra Portuguesa". It happened at the same day of Amália Rodrigues’s funeral. So it was a tribute to the singer.

Carlos Gonçalves said: “I don’t like call me composer”. However, he is an author and notorious singer who has a wide discography, projects and concerts giving prominence abroad to Portuguese guitar.

In 2001/2002, he started a new activity as professor at the Casa do Fado e Guitarra Portuguesa known as Museum of Fado. This way he would be able to share his knowledge and large experience about Portuguese Guitar.

During his brilliant and vast career he leads and accompanies renowned figures of Fado. In 2004, he publishes a CD solo record named "A Essência da Guitarra Portuguesa", on the colection Fado Anthology, CNM publisher, containing his best compositions.

Carlos Gonçalves passed away in March 23rd, 2020.



Caldeira Cabral, Pedro (1999), "A Guitarra Portuguesa", Col. "Um Século de Fado", Lisbon, Ediclube;

Museum of Fado – Interview done on August 18th, 2006;

Carlos Gonçalves, s/d.

Carlos Gonçalves, Paquito e Amália Rodrigues, s/d.

Celeste Rodrigues e Carlos Gonçalves, s/d.

  • Lágrima Carlos Gonçalves (Carlos Gonçalves)