Today, Allen Thayer continues his collection of outtakes, chapters, and stories that didn’t end up in his new book, Tim Maia’s Tim Maia Racional Vols. 1 & 2.
For his third blog post of the week, Allen remembers the great Tibério Gaspar, who greatly influenced both Tim Maia and Allen himself.
I’m so lucky to have met Tibério Gaspar when I did, because less than a year later, on February 15th, 2017 he died at the age of 73. When I met him during the June of 2016, I knew he had an important role, as the guy that introduced Tim Maia to The Universe in Disenchantment book … Here’s Tibério from my book:
Mine and Tim’s friendship was really great. I used to live in Recreio dos Bandeirantes and Tim would go there all the time. One day he showed up in the morning and I was about to take a shower, so I told him, “Come in, I’m gonna take a shower.” He came in to my living room and I went to the bathroom. And I had this book, the Rational Culture book [Universe in Disenchantment], because the Rational Culture book is an interesting thing.
Tibério, the middle class son of a respected Mathematics professor, moved to Rio de Janeiro in the mid-sixties and immediately got swept up in the musical mix that was post-Bossa, pre-Tropicália, and lots of national and international song festival trends.
The first time I met Tibério it was at streetside cafe near the bustling ferry port in downtown Rio de Janeiro. He rode up on a bicycle, his white hair in a whispy ponytail blowing in the breeze. Sitting across the café table on the sidewalk as the sun began to set, he was initially a bit aggressive, conspiratorial, and anti-American, but when we started talking about Tim, he started to warm up and before long he had to catch his ferry back to the island he lived on in the Guanabara bay, called Paquetá, where no full-sized motorized vehicles are allowed. When parting, he invited me to visit him on Paquetá and shared this classic Tim Maia quote:
Tim was really smart, you know? He had this incredible capacity to synthesize ideas. He showed up one time and said, ‘Tibério Gaspar, I’ve been thinking: Germany invents it, the Jews negotiate it, the U.S. makes it big, Japan makes it small, and we buy it.” I was speechless. In a few words, he defined how the world works.
A couple days later I took a ferry to Paquetá and spent the afternoon with Tibério. I rented a bike and Tibério (then 72 years old) and I pedaled around to a few scenic spots on the island, a school where he volunteered teaching music and composition, the former palace in exile of some long deceased royalty, and his favorite little restaurant. Back at his modest apartment, he played some music for me from his computer, we smoked some joints, he played me some songs on the guitar on his veranda.
Tibério told me some great stories about Tim that didn’t make it into my book, like when how Antônio Adolfo and him wanted Tim to sing the hit song “B.R.3” (after Wilson Simonal declined to do this controversial social message song about the brutal existence of a man building a highway through the Amazon), but as he had just signed to Polydor, Tim couldn’t do it. And then there’s the story of how these two old friends met:
“It was in 1968 when I met Tim, more or less,” Tibério remembers. “He was here [in Rio de Janeiro] and who introduced him was my friend, Vitor Manga. Vitor played drums in my band. I was about to record my song “Juliana” and I called Tim to sing in the chorus. His voice was so strong you couldn’t hide it. Later, I called him to give him a little money, but the security guard at the record company wouldn’t let him in and they started arguing. I had a discussion with the guy at EMI-Odeon to let him in the studio and he was very grateful and it helped build our friendship . . . from that moment on we started a really great friendship. From 1968 until his death, we were very close friends.”
Tibério also talked about how he was the rare white guy that hung out around the Brazilian soul and funk groups. He described his eye-opening trip to the U.S. in the late sixties and how that informed his progressive stance on race in Brazil in the seventies:
In 1968 or 1969 I went to Greece with Antonio Adolfo for the International Song Festival of Greece and we took second place with a song called “Teletema”. We stayed in Europe, traveling around France, Italy, and England and from England I went to the U.S. while Antonio Adolfo went back to Brazil. I got there and got in contact with Sergio Mendes who recorded “Sá Marina” also [as “Pretty World” as performed by Stevie Wonder] and I stayed there for some time. At this time I was closely following the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichael and all of the philosophies of Black liberation, the Afro hair, you know? That whole thing came from the U.S. and when I got back to Brazil I met up with Tim who had just come back from living in the U.S. I participated actively in the Black movement here in Brazil . . . [Before,] Blacks here in Brazil all wanted to be Sammy Davis Jr., trying to have the things Whites have. Blacks had that problem here, it was racism, not so violent, but it existed. The awakening of Black consciousness, I was part of a lot of that in the seventies. I was there with Cassiano and so many others, with [Dom] Mita and many others that created and supported this movement, like Tim Maia.
Rest in Peace, Tibério.