Roberto Carlos Braga Moreira

Born April 19, 1941 is a Brazilian singer-songwriter, also known as “King of Latin Music” or simply “the King”. Most of his songs were written in partnership with his friend, singer and songwriter. Roberto Carlos has sold over 70 million albums around the world. He is considered one of the most influential artists in Brazil, being cited as a source of inspiration by many artists and bands. His net worth is estimated at US$160 million.

As a child, he learned to play the guitar and the piano, first with his mother and later at the Itapemirim Music Conservatory. At 9 years old, he performed for the first time at a children’s show broadcast by Rádio Cachoeiro (he sang a bolero called “Mal Amor”). He won candies as the first prize. Years later, he recalled the occasion for the book Roberto Carlos Up Close, by Paulo Cesar de Araujo: “I was very nervous, yet very happy to be able to sing on the radio. I got a lot of candies, which was the prize for the kids who’d sing there. It was a beautiful day.” He became a regular performer on that particular show.

At 82, famed singer Roberto Carlos is private, but his well-known childhood accident cost him part of his right leg at six.


At age 6

During the feast of St Peter, the patron saint of Cachoeiro do Itapemirim, Roberto Carlos was hit by a steam locomotive and had to have his right leg amputated just below his knee. He still uses a prosthesis, but avoids talking about it.

The incident took place on June 29, 1947, in Carlos’s hometown of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Espírito Santo. Roberto, then called Zunga, and his friend Eunice Solino were near a train track during a local festival.

A concerned teacher tried to warn them of an approaching steam locomotive. Her shouts scared Roberto, causing him to trip and fall into the train’s path.

The train severely injured his right shin. Bystanders, including Renato Spíndola e Castro, rushed to help. Castro used his jacket to stop the bleeding and drove Roberto to the hospital.

At the hospital

Dr. Romildo Gonçalves took a bold step. Rather than performing a standard knee-high amputation, he preserved more of Roberto’s leg.

This innovative approach allowed Roberto greater mobility later in life. Despite the grim situation, Roberto’s concern for his new shoes shows his innocence and unawareness of the accident’s severity.

Following the accident, Roberto’s father was furious, blaming the train driver. However, such incidents were not rare then, and this particular one did not make it to the local news. Roberto lived without a prosthetic limb until 14, relying on crutches and his wit. He even played soccer, taking the position of a goalkeeper.

Life improved significantly when he received a prosthetic limb from a German doctor. With newfound mobility, Roberto embraced life fully. He ran on the beach and danced tirelessly. This journey from a traumatic childhood accident to a life filled with joy and movement shows Roberto Carlos’s strength and resilience.

It also illustrates the impact of innovative medical care and the importance of community support in times of crisis.

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