This pair of brothers, members of the Tabajara tribe of northern Brazil,
were one of the most unlikely successes of the space age pop era. Nearly
20 years after they first began recording professionally and in the midst
of the twist craze, they had a Top 10 pop hit with their cover of
a Mexican folk tune
dedicated to the wife of a Mexican president
first popularized in the U.S. by
Their eclectic act gathered Rimsky-Korsakoff, Chopin, De Falla, and
Villa-Lobos with folk tunes and originals, performed in tuxedo and also
half-naked with Indian ornaments.
Los Indios Tabajaras was formed by the brothers
Antenor Moreyra Lima
(Mucapere) and Natalicio Moreyra Lima (Erundi) -
sons of a Tabajaras Indian chieftain of an isolated jungle tribe.
Their promoters have always drawn a veil of mystery around Los
Indios Tabajaras, so it's tough to trace their early years accurately.
Their literature claimed they discovered a guitar
mislaid by European explorers,
in the jungle
during their journey
through the hinterlands of Cariri, Ceara,
and, after making sure it wasn't going to explode like
other firearms their tribesmen had found, began to examine it
(later they had to give this guitar away for
a pound of beans)
they both mastered the instrument and came to the attention of townspeople,
one of whom took them to Rio de Janeiro to play.
Dressing up in ceremonial Indian costumes, the brothers
perfected a nightclub act in which they sang and played Brazilian and Latin
folk songs. They changed their names to Natalicio and Antenor Lima and began
touring throughout South America. In 1943, RCA's Latin American arm signed
them to a contract, but it wasn't until the late 1950s that they were
released in the U.S., and their first album was on a minor label, Vox,
rather than RCA.
In the early 1950s, they took a break from touring and returned to study,
each with a different teacher. Natalicio focused on melody and Antenor worked
on harmony. They also added a substantial classical repertoire to their act,
including guitar pieces by Bach, Falla, and Albeniz.
Another tour followed, this time to Europe as well, and they recorded several
more albums for RCA in Mexico.
One of their singles,
in 1958, became a steady seller, and by early 1962, its success caught the
eye of RCA's U.S. division. They issued the tune, and this lovely, gentle
melody quickly carved a solid niche in the U.S. pop charts. It ended up
spending 14 weeks in the U.S. Top 10 and 17 weeks in the U.K. charts,
and the subsequent album placed in the Top 10 album chart as well. Within
a year, the brothers followed with another single,
Always in My Heart,
but the novelty had worn off and it barely dented the Top 100.
Chet Atkins was particularly impressed by the brothers' guitar work, and
he invited them to Nashville, where they recorded an instrumental album
with Atkins and pianist Floyd Cramer, and - in one of the oddest releases
of the countrypolitan era - one with singer Don Gibson ("Oh, Lonesome Me").
RCA - both the U.S. and Latin American divisions - continued to record them
well into the 1980s.
Though Antenor retired from performing, Natalicio Lima continued
to perform into the 1990s with his wife, Michiko.
The brother's mellow guitar style proved a big
influence on a new generation of guitarists such as Rick Vito.
Space Age Pop Music
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