On March 2nd, 1996, exactly 25 years ago, the Mamonas Assassinas were on tour in Brazil. They jumped from city to city, from state to state in a private plane. The band was just returning from a show in Brasilia when their plane crashed in Serra da Cantareira. There were seven passengers and two pilots on board. Nobody survived.
The next day, March 3rd, the Mamonas Assassinas had a scheduled flight to Lisbon. It was the first time the band had come to Portugal and on this side of the Atlantic there was a country with fleas to receive them. The band of “Vira, Vira” with a heavy accent that mimics us was a hit here even before they even arrived.
Paulo Fernandes from the then EMI publishing house was the one who was supposed to pick her up at the airport. “I was a product manager at the time, working on their product launches and preparing to pick them up at dawn if they were going to land in Lisbon. I would meet them in person when they arrived. My colleagues in Brazil even warned me: get ready, they are always preparing games. I expected to be ready for anything [risos]”. However, the band never arrived.
At that time, the Internet wasn’t what we know it to be, and its spread wasn’t moving at the same rate. Paulo learned of the tragedy when a journalist called him. “I heard the news early in the morning and it wasn’t even from my colleagues in Brazil. If I’m not mistaken about what was many years ago, it was even someone from the Lusa agency who called me to ask, expecting I already knew, ”he says. “I was completely surprised.”
“For a few seconds,” he reminds NiT, “I even wondered if it was real. I didn’t even want to believe what they were telling me. Only then did I contact my colleagues in Brazil. The news was terrible. The colleague I spoke to answered the call to cry. They were heroes in Brazil, people loved them. And it was transversal. Such news was shocking on every level. “
It was not easy to prepare for this trip to Portugal. At the time, the Mamonas Assassinas were the most sought-after band in Brazil. His politically incorrect lyrics were accompanied by a musical sound that reached all age groups and all social classes. It was a rare thing they did, and that’s why they all wanted it.
The band’s weeks have always been busy. All cities wanted a concert by Mamonas Assassinas, all newspapers wanted an interview, and all television programs wanted them over the radio. Globo even tried to negotiate an exclusive deal to deceive the competition, EMI in Brazil said no. It wouldn’t be easy for the band to come here, but the Mamonas Assassinas themselves wanted to visit the country that inspired one of their greatest achievements.
“You managed to find a place to come here to Portugal. They really wanted to come. You had great expectations here in Europe. The band was very spontaneous, very happy and very curious, ”recalls Paulo.
António Marinho was also working at EMI Portugal at this time. With him was the area of communication. António recalls that the band was a monumental success in Brazil and went the same way. 25 years is a long time: Paulo Fernandes has the idea that the band would be in Portugal for about four or five days. António Marinho says: “It was three days, nothing more than that.”
One thing was certain, António Marinho recalls: “The agenda was very full”. The success of the Mamonas Assassinas promised to go the same way in Portuguese countries. “Music played everywhere”. So there was no radio, newspaper, or television that they didn’t want. Dozens of interviews and appearances were scheduled in those few days. “Their schedule was a miserable thing, there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to them. But we could do everything with a little bit, ”he recalls.
Here Rádio Cidade, who had a strong connection with Brazil and a large presence among the younger classes, was a pioneer in promoting the phenomenon. One of the highlights, however, was a televised debate, which was one of SIC’s most successful at the time.
“The night of bad language” added names like Rui Zink, Miguel Esteves Cardoso, Manuel Serrão or Júlia Pinheiro between the debate and the political satire. “At the time, ‘A Noite da Bad Língua’ had no musicians, but the journalist Victor Moura-Pinto noticed this phenomenon and had the music of the Mamonas Assassinas in his chronicles. And one of the things we planned was a surprising passage through the program. “They didn’t want to give a concert for the public here, the idea was just to advertise for a few days with the national media.
Dinho, Sergio Reoli, Samuel Reoli, Alberto Hinoto and Julio Cesar Barbosa.
The fashion of the turning point
It’s hard to imagine what else the band could have done here. Dinho, Bento Hinoto, Sérgio Reoli, Júlio Rasec and Samuel Reis de Oliveira had a special touch when they combined humorous lyrics with musical creativity. They were able to breathe new life into the songs with their covers and easily dared to bring good-eared rock riffs into such different soundscapes as the Sertanejo, the Pagoda or our song.
On March 4, the day they would be celebrating with the Portuguese public without the tragedy, about 65,000 people gathered for the funeral at the Parque das Primaveras cemetery in Guarulhos, São Paulo. At that time, schools in the area were closing and several television channels paused to broadcast part of the funeral. Brazil cried the band that made him laugh the most. The report of the tragic accident concluded that it was a human error, a mixture of pilot fatigue and inexperience on the part of the copilot.
The band was a huge success – and one of those that could never have happened. Rafael Ramos, a 16-year-old drummer who was the son of EMI’s artistic director, insisted that his father give the band an opportunity. After seeing her live, João Augusto Soares took a risk.
EMI wanted at least ten songs for the band’s only original album. At that time, the Mamonas Assassinas guaranteed that they already had seven songs and that they could compose the missing ones in a week. In fact, only the three songs they had sent to the publisher in the demo were finished. In a week they did 12 more.
Over the years the band has never been forgotten. It has continued to be the target of biographies and documentaries, and there are plans for a miniseries about the history of the group that began their journey as Utopia in 1989 and played covers. The album “Mamonas Assassinas” is still one of the ten best-selling albums in the country’s history.
The band’s only studio album is still the best-selling debut album of all time. “Pelados em Santos”, “Sabão Crá-Crá” or “Robocop Gay” are some of the songs that make up the album. In Brazil there were those who were shocked, but this was also taken with humor. The band played themselves always unpretentiously and asked the teachers to let the children sing their songs.
“Vira-Vira” was one of the songs that were born in this crazy week of creation. It has a Maria falsetto, a Portuguese accent and a manel mustache, playful rhymes and a saloia choreography to accompany it. It was surreal. It’s something special. “Come on dancing lightning bolts, everyone with me / Hey, Maria went bad, let’s go there.” Well then go.