Julio Jaramillo, Julio Alfredo Jaramillo Laurido (October 1, 1935 – February 9, 1978) was a notable Ecuadorian singer and recording artist who performed throughout Latin America achieving great fame for his renditions of boleros, valses, pasillos, tangos, and rancheras.
Having recorded more than 4,000 songs throughout his career, his most famous song was perhaps “Nuestro Juramento” written by Puerto Rican composer, Benito de Jesús.
Jaramillo recorded with many other noteworthy Latin American artists including Puerto Rican singer, Daniel Santos; fellow Ecuadorian singer, Olimpo Cárdenas; and Colombian singer, Alci Acosta.
Julio Jaramillo was born on October 1, 1935, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. His parents moved to Guayaquil from the town of Machachi in search for a better life. He had two siblings, a sister who died at the age of 5 and a brother named Pepe. Their neighbor Ignacio Toapanta let the kids play with his musical instruments, and taught them to play the guitar. Julio later made his own guitar out of bamboo so that he could practice more. Attending the school led by Francisco García Avilés was probably the final push towards Julio’s musical career.
By age 15, his brother Pepe had had some success as an artist, but later left music to study philosophy in Colombia. Julio wasn’t as disciplined, but still wanted to be an artist, like his brother.
By the age of 17, Julio Jaramillo was becoming famous for having a beautiful and warm voice, and participated in radio programs at “El Condor” radio station. In 1950 he joined with two friends to form a trio and got to visit the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabi. On one occasion he was forced to return to his job as a shoemaker to survive. Despite the criticisms, penalties, tears and entreaties of his mother, he was unable to leave his bohemian lifestyle and revelers.
At 18, Julio Jaramillo left home, rented an apartment with Irene, with whom he had a baby. Sadly, the baby died after a short eight months. At this time he worked as a shoemaker, but still insisting unsuccessfully on pursuing a career as a musician. He was often seen at a place called “La Lagartera” serenating people for tips. At “La Lagartera” Julio met other musicians. It was during these years that he came to know Odalina Sánchez at the local Radio El Triunfo. He fell in love with Odalina and left Irene for her. Together they had a son named Francisco, born march 9th 1955. However, before the age of 20 he married María Eudocia Rivera, who was at the time four months pregnant with his child. Still, he still kept an ongoing love affair with Odalina.
Back in Guayaquil, he never stop being “the kid from the block”, humble, friendly, bohemian, generous and joyful. He started a TV show, in channel 4, in which he performed frequently and recorded new songs. However, a life of excesses and lack of control affected his health which got progressively worse.
With the recording of his first album, “My Poor Dear Mother” (1954), which was a duet with Donna Fresia Saavedra, his name began to be well-known. This was followed by the Peruvian-style waltz song called “Wife” (1955), a duet with Carlos Rubira Infante.In 1956 the Peruvian-style waltz Fatalidad(music by Laureano Martínez Smart, text by Juan Sixto Prieto) marked his breakthrough. It’s something between a Peruvian waltz and an Ecuadorian “pasillo”. It was a huge success from the very beginning. 6000 first prints were sold within a week. By the end of 1956 he had a produced a dozen albums with the label Onix. In 1959 he went to TV and also the movies. His first film being Mala mujer or “wicked Woman”.
His international recognition came after the Peruvian-style waltz “Nuestro Juramento” (1957), when he made several tours in Latin America: He began a journey through Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. The Mexican label, Discos Peerless, caught interest and sent him on tour to Peru and Chile. In Colombia he met up with his brother Pepe, who had previously emigrated. When not on tour he did shows at the movie theaters of Guayaquil, as it was the custom of the time to present musical shows before showing the movie. Due to his huge popularity he started to have shows on Saturdays and Sundays and later even that grew to twice a day the whole week. Upon returning to his country, he was arrested and taken to military service.
Returning to civilian life in 1960, he continued his career, reaching sellout performances of up to four consecutive months at the Guayaquil Guayas Theater. He also had a part in the Ecuadorian movie “Romance” and one other in Argentina. In 1965 he settled in Venezuela and completed successful tours in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Central America. He also recorded a duet with Daniel Santos, Olimpo Cardenas Alci Acosta.
His last international tour was held in the United States and Canada. The scandals of his turbulent life were often also a source of news. Several times he was imprisoned and almost always by women’s issues or noncompliance with the Juvenile Court. Besides being married five times, Julio had children with other women with estimates of up to of twenty-eight. Never denied his humble origins, he was always very generous, wasteful of money with his friends, and machismo prototype from his country side.
On his return to Ecuador in 1975, tired, prematurely aged and corroded by cirrhosis, was booed at a performance in his hometown because his voice was no longer the same. In his last years of his life, Julio Jaramillo had a radio program at Crystal Radio entitled “Time for J.J.”, whose commercial time did not even generate enough money to make a decent living. During the early days of the month of February 1978, Julio Jaramillo underwent a highly risky medical procedure to remove gallstones. The procedure was successful, but during the postoperative period he was imprudent enough to pull the probes connected to his body. This caused a peritonitis which forced doctors to perform a second operation. However, due to the years as a bohemian and neglect, his body did not respond as expected.
Julio Jaramillo died at the relatively young age of 42. His remains were given a farewell like no other person has known in Guayaquil. It is estimated that there were about 250,000 Ecuadorians at his funeral. His level of popularity in Ecuador could be compared to Frank Sinatra’s in the United States or Carlos Gardel’s in Argentina. Since 1993, his birthday has been commemorated as a national holiday for the pasillo: Día del Pasillo Ecuatoriano (Day of the Ecuadorian Pasillo).