One of the greatest sambistas of all time, Luís Barbosa, brother of the composer Paulo Barbosa, the humorist/singer Barbosa Júnior, and the radioman Henrique Barbosa, launched the straw hat (fashionable among the dandies of his time) as a percussive instrument. His small discography (due to his precocious demise) gives only a small hint of what his wonderful art and repertory were, made of rich rhythmic and interpretative invention.
Barbosa opened in the radio in 1931 at the Programa Casé (Rádio Mayrink Veiga). His style, full of ginga (street smartness), was almost a conversation with breques (breaks) and his hat percussion, was very personal. He recorded his early albums in 1931: the samba "Meu Santo" (Pedro Brito), the march "Vem, Meu Amor" (Pedro Brito/Milton Amaral), the sambas "Silêncio" (Vadico) and "Não Gostei de Seus Modos" (Amor), and his own songs, the march "Pega" and the samba "Sou Jogador" (all through Odeon). In 1933, he became a member of the RCA Victor cast recording the first samba by Wilson Batista ("Na Estrada da Vida"), the samba "Adeus, Vida de Solteiro" and the samba-canção "Jamais em Tua Vida," both by pianist Mário Travassos de Araújo, who accompanied the singer and the hat percussion in the recording. Invited by Jardel Jercolis, he performed in the Teatro Carlos Gomes. Singing the song "No Tabuleiro da Baiana" (Ary Barroso) as a duet with Deo Maia, he had success with his improvisations. The song would be recorded in the same year with Carmen Miranda, for Odeon. For Victor, recorded also "Quem Nunca Comeu Melado" (Luís Barbosa/Jorge Murad), "Bebida, Mulher, Orgia" (Luís Pimentel, Anis Murad, and Manoel Rabaça), "Cadê O Toucinho?" and "Eu Peço e Você Não Dá" (both by Nássara/Antônio Almeida), "Lalá e Lelé" (Jaime Brito/Manezinho Araújo), "Risoleta" (Raul Marques/Moacir Bernardino), "Perdi a Confiança" (Rubens Soares/Ataulfo Alves), and "Já Paguei Os Meus Pecados" (Leonel Azevedo/Germano Augusto). Between 1935 and 1937, he recorded a series of sambas de breque by Antônio Almeida and Ciro de Sousa. In the Carnaval of 1936, his recording for Antônio Almeida/A. Godinho's marchinha "Ó! Ó! Não" became a hit.