Best-selling Brazilian singer/songwriter Roberto Carlos is known as “the King of Latin Music.” He has sold over 120 million records globally, and with his partner and co-writer, Erasmo Carlos, he has penned over three dozen Top Ten charting singles. Still active and successful in the 21st century, he initiated a major revolution in Brazilian music during the 1960s thanks to his fusion of Anglo-styled pop and rock and the second wave of Brazilian samba. His initial success coincided with the emergent youth movement in pop (started by the Beatles) that took over the world. Carlos was the leader of the country’s Jovem Guarda. He was the host of the TV show that became a generic denomination of a musical style and what was a definitive change of face to the Brazilian phonographic market and of the very art of marketing itself (with the advent of an aggressive merchandising of the Jovem Guarda’s top figures, including films, clothes, and more), encompassing deep behavioral/gestural/language influences widespread through his entire generation. His light music, derived from British pop, and his (and Erasmo Carlos’) lyrics (happy, humorous, full of fashionable youth slang, and naïve though unexpectedly sexual) were deeply contrasting to the more serious MPB, with its somber images and protest songs. After all, Brazil was living in a dark period of the military dictatorship, or the “years of lead,” as they became known.
In 1964, the LP É Proibido Fumar (backed by the Youngsters) had hits with the title track (by Carlos/Erasmo) and with Erasmo’s version of “Road Hog,” “O Calhambeque.” It sold almost 12,000 copies in 18 months and was considered high-selling then, but still behind the leader Carlos Alberto (a bolero singer), who was selling more than twice as much. Nevertheless, Carlos’ nationwide success was ascending, with more and more invitations for TV and radio shows and CBS wanting to take him to Argentina. That year, Carlos recorded the same repertory in Spanish, also backed by the Youngsters, and the album Es Prohibido Fumar was released by the end of 1964 in Argentina. It was planned to also be distributed in Brazil, but as the military government considered anything in Spanish (the language of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara) dangerous to the country, the album was simply taken out of the catalog by the recording company.