Gene Pitney

La storia della RCA Italiana

Il cantante statunitense Gene Pitney eccezionale narratore della storia del 45 giri, per un Tg2 Dossier realizzato nel 2001, ovvero a mezzo secolo dalla nascita del supporto musicale più amato da tre generazioni di giovani e nei giorni della chiusura della maggiore casa discografica della penisola: la leggendaria RCA Italiana (dal 1987 passata alla BMG) con conseguente sgombero degli storici e prestigiosi stabilimenti romani di Via Tiburtina. Dalla cassaforte della RCA Italiana uscirono per l’occasione brani inediti di Lucio Battisti, Mia Martini, Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, Claudio Baglioni.

Gene Pitney conduce “Quando andavamo a 45 giri” di Michele Bovi, Tg2 Dossier RAI, giugno 2001

INTERVISTE E IMMAGINI CHE APPAIONO NEL PROGRAMMA

Interviste
- Ennio Melis, già direttore RCA Italiana
- Augusto Giribaldi, già tecnico del suono RCA Italiana
- Little Tony, cantante
- Franco Migliacci, paroliere
- Edoardo Vianello, cantante
- Gino Paoli, cantante
- Sergio Bardotti, già direttore Linea Giovani RCA Italiana
- Ennio Morricone, già arrangiatore RCA Italiana
- Sergio Endrigo, cantante
- Nada, cantante
- Vincenzo Micocci, già dirigente RCA Italiana
- Alberto Fortis, cantante
- Roberto Gasparini, già direttore BMG
- Mario Cantini, già editore discografico RCA Italiana

Immagini
- Perry Como
- Mario Lanza
- Harry Belafonte
- Rita Pavone
- Gianni Morandi
- Frank Sinatra
- Pat Boone
- Petula Clark
- Paul Anka
- Sandy Shaw
- José Feliciano
- Joan Baez
- Charles Aznavour
- Little Tony con Gene Pitney
- Ricky Shayne
- Edoardo Vianello
- Gino Paoli
- Patty Pravo
- Claudio Baglioni
- Neil Sedaka
- The Platters
- Lucio Dalla
- Mia Martini
- Lucio Battisti
Gene-Pitney

Gene Pitney

Gene Pitney con Michele Bovi, Hartford (Connecticut) 2001.

Raggiunsi Gene Pitney nella sua casa di Hartford, nel Connecticut, la cittadina dove era nato nel 1940. Mi mostrò il “salone della musica” in cui conservava i suoi ricordi: le pareti tappezzate da manifesti anni ’60 di cantanti italiani, da Caterina Caselli a Gigliola Cinquetti, da Gianni Pettenati a Dino, poi foto con Little Tony, con Sergio Endrigo, immagini del suo matrimonio celebrato a Ospedaletti nel 1967 durante il Festival di Sanremo. “L’Italia è stata la mia America – mi disse mentre la moglie Lynne mi offriva un caffè espresso, ristretto e bollente come a Napoli Centrale – Negli USA ero partito bene: una manciata di dischi in testa alla Hit Parade dopo il grande successo del 1961 di Town Without Pity, il tema del film La Città Spietata, composto da Dimitri Tiomkin, uno dei più grandi compositori di colonne sonore cinematografiche. Ma subito dopo arrivarono la popolarità europea e l’apoteosi italiana: da voi fu un sogno meraviglioso, concerti, radio e televisione senza soste, un disco d’oro dopo l’altro, coccolato da un popolo che adoro”. Gene Pitney è morto per infarto il 5 aprile del 2006, a Cardiff (Galles) la sera successiva a un suo acclamato concerto.

Gene Pitney Lynne

Gene e Lynne Pitney.

Enrico Caruso

La Voce di Enrico Caruso

A distanza di un secolo la più grande voce di tutti i tempi, quella del tenore Enrico Caruso, torna a farsi sentire attraverso oltre quattromila pagine di lettere scritte e ricevute dall’artista. Si tratta di un’imponente quantità di materiale assolutamente inedito prodotto da Caruso nell’arco di 24 anni, dal 1897 fino a poco prima della  morte avvenuta a Napoli, sua città di origine, il 2 agosto del 1921. Oltre al materiale epistolario vi sono caricature, disegni e vignette di cui Caruso fu geniale autore, polizze assicurative attestanti pagamenti di premi e risarcimenti, ricevute, conti, rimesse bancarie, estratti conto, trasferimenti, ricevute di alberghi di tutto il mondo, atti del processo che lo vide coinvolto e pienamente assolto a New York per “disorderly conduct”. Destinatari e mittenti delle lettere sono soprattutto la prima compagna Ada Giachetti da cui l’artista ebbe i figli Enrico jr. e Rodolfo e la moglie americana Dorothy Benjamin Parker che dette a Caruso la figlia Gloria, ma anche suoi eminenti contemporanei come Giacomo Puccini e Guglielmo Marconi.
Il ritrovamento di tale materiale permette la sistemazione biografica definitiva dell’inarrivabile tenore e inoltre consente una descrizione senza precedenti degli anni e dei protagonisti più importanti del melodramma italiano. La straordinaria documentazione è stata ritrovata dal giornalista Michele Bovi e dallo scrittore Pasquale Panella che l’hanno utilizzata per la realizzazione del Tg2 Dossier intitolato “La Voce di Enrico Caruso”.

La voce di Caruso” di Michele Bovi e Pasquale Panella, Tg2 Dossier RAI, 22 novembre 2008. [ENGLISH SUBTITLES]

Neil Sedaka

Fifty years as a Popstar

IN FEBRUARY 2010 THE COLLECTION OF NEIL SEDAKA’S GREATEST HITS ‘THE MUSIC OF MY LIFE’ ENTERED BILLBOARD’S ‘TOP 200 ALBUMS’. AN INTERVIEW BY MICHELE BOVI WITH THE SONGWRITER FROM NEW YORK WHO IN THE NINETEEN SIXTIES WON THREE GOLDEN RECORDS SINGING IN ITALIAN

Neil Sedaka “Breaking Up is hard to do” (Cinebox, 1963). [From the Pietro Bologna collection].

On the 13th of March 2014 he turned 75 years of age, for more than half a century he has been composing songs and patronizes the International Hit Parades all around the world: He climbed the charts for the first time in 1958 with ‘Stupid Cupid’ commended to the high-pitched voice of his friend Connie Francis. It was a smash hit that was played all over America 24 hours a day throughout the summer of 1958; The last time was with ‘Solitaire’ that in 2005 reached the top of the charts in the USA, interpreted by the very young Clay Aiken. ‘Solitare’ is a cover version of the song written and sung by Sedaka in 1972 and has been recorded by a host of pop-stars ranging from Elvis Presley, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Sheryl Crow. During February 2010 the collection of ‘The music of my life’ the musical compendium of Sedaka’s  career appeared in Billboard’s Top 200 Albums. Among the Golden Records in Sedaka’s house there are three that are entirely Italian, they are not translated versions of his American hit songs (at least 10 of his translated songs became sovereign on the Italian Juke-boxes), but they are original songs written by Italian songwriters. Among whom we  find Luis Bacalov, who is was born in Argentina but his real home became the recording studios of RCA Italiana on the Via Tiburtina in Rome Italy.

Neil Sedaka “La terza luna” (Cinebox, 1963).
Neil Sedaka, Interview (New York, 2005).
Neil Sedaka, Golden Record for “I tuoi capricci” (Look Inside Your Heart) (Rome, 1963).
Neil Sedaka, Interview (New York, 2005).
Neil Sedaka “Tu non lo sai” (Breaking Up is Hard to Do) (“Alta Pressione” RAI, 1962).

The songs ‘I tuoi caprici’ and ‘La terza luna’ (Waiting for never) were written by Luis Bacalov and Franco Migliacci, and the song ‘Adesso no’ by Gianni Meccia. All these songs in the early sixties became the hits that would defiantly bind the New Yorker to the Italian public. In Italian, Neil Sedaka has recorded fourteen 45 rpm’s and three Albums in which he actually conceded himself three songs of the Neapolitan songs repertoire: I’te vurria vasà, ‘Na sera ‘e maggio e Scapricciatello.

Mr Sedaka, how did your Italian adventure begin??

My first songs, ‘Stupid Cupid ‘and ‘I go ape’ had been enthusiastically received by the Italian public in their original versions. I still have the relative information: In 1959 Oh Carol remained for eleven weeks at the top of the Italian charts. My record company and publishers consequently suggested that I should re-record my American hits in different European languages. I consequentially recorded my songs in German, French Spanish and Italian. My grandmother was Spanish so I speak the language reasonably well and being similar to Italian, I found that my way of singing in Italian turned out to be pleasant and catchy. That is how my cover versions came into being: ‘Esagerata’ (Little Devil), ‘Un Giorno Inutile’(I must be dreamin’), ‘Tu Non lo Sai’ (Breaking up is hard to do), ‘Il Re dei Pagliacci’ (King of clowns). They were all hits.

Neil sedaka, i dischi italiani

How did it go in the rest of Europe?

Fine everywhere! Things also went well in South America thanks to the Spanish language. Later on I even recorded in Hebrew and Japanese. But the fireworks were in Italy: that’s where my biggest satisfaction came from. The cover versions seemed insufficient for the demand, so I started recording songs written by Italian songwriters. Luis Bacalov and Franco Migliacci wrote for me the two songs ‘I Tuoi Capricci’ and ‘La Terza Luna’. Howard Greenfield, a longtime friend who wrote the original lyrics of many of my songs, once said to me that I should be proud to have Franco Migliacci as my Italian lyrics writer, the man who wrote the legendary world wide hit song sung by Domenico Modugno ‘Volare’. In fact Migliacci actually managed to do a couple of miracles: ‘Another night, another heartache’, another song written by myself and Greenfield that did not get off to a good start in the States from the sales point of view, was transformed into ‘La notte è fatta per amare’ (The night is made for love) and became a big hit in Italy. On the rebound I made a couple hits in the United States with the English versions of ‘La Terza Luna’ (Waiting for never) and ‘In Ginocchio da Te’ (In the chapel with you) that Franco Migliacci and Bruno Zambrini had written together for Gianni Morandi.

Neil Sedaka on the Appian Way, in Rome, 1964

Neil Sedaka on the Appian Way, in Rome, 1964.

You did quite a few tours in Italy. What do you remember of the Italian audiences?

I performed several times at the Bussola in Viareggio and I distinctly remember the warm appreciative high class audience. I also remember with great pleasure Mr Sergio Bernadini, the owner of this very elegant and popular night club on the beach. He was also a connoisseur of good pop music and instinctively knew what artist to invite to his renowned club. I saw him again in 1984 when I did a show at the Bussoladomani: he was no longer the owner but he made a point of coming to see in my dressing room: he was always a nice, warm and affectionate person with me. The very beginnings of my career are intertwined with classical music, I had been selected in the year 1957 by the great pianist Arthur Rubenstein as the best concert performer of the prestigious Julliard School in New York. This is the reason why in the early years of my career I would often open my shows playing a piece of classical music: I often played Chopin. I will always remember a show I did in Catania Sicily where the audience was astounded into a cold stony silence. After a short while the surprised mumbles slowly increased in volume and were laced with noisy boos and whistles, the frightend and frustrated organizer of the show begged me to stop the classical and start the type of pop music that the Italian public wanted to hear.”

Were you upset?

Certainly not! They were right and I should have understood the audience right from the beginning. Maybe I should have tried Chopin at the end of the show so as not to put them off right from the start and I should have realized that they did not know of my musical beginnings as a classical pianist. I must say that some of my Italian fans were unlucky. At one show in at the Savioli Club in Riccione, I was taken ill with a bad case of bronchitis. Just two days before my concert the public had seen top quality singing with Mina and were expecting the same from me. I was practically without any voice at all but I really tried to get through the show. I had to give up after only fifteen minuets and I apologized to the bewildered public and then I had to hastily abandon the stage.

Were the public understanding?

Certainly not! For me it was a very real nightmare. My wife Leba was with me and we had to run faster than the very annoyed fans. We miraculously made it to our agents car and we sped away as tinned tomato came flying in our direction and bouncing noisily off the bodywork of the car. Another time in the beautiful open-air Greek Theater in Taormina Sicily I was supposed to sing live two songs that were to be recorded by the Italian television. Once again I had lost my voice and I had to do it all in play-back. I must admit that it was my fault because I have a high pitched voice and I did not realize how fragile it was. As I learnt later, I was not breathing correctly and was not dosing my diaphragm as I should have. Losing my voice was the result of my inexperience.

Neil Sedala a Roma

Neil Sedaka in Rome with two Carabinieri.

Even though there were a few mishaps it seems that the Italian public remained faithfully enthusiastic.

That is true! I got married in September of 1962 and soon after I arrived in Italy for a tour. But Ettore Zeppegno, One of the top directors of RCA Italiana who was following my tour step by step, asked me to present my wife to the public as my sister so as not to upset some of my over affectionate fans. At the Rome airport a young girl came up to me and kissed me and said: “Neil, at long last we have met in the flesh after our year long exchange of love letters”. Not knowing who she was I asked her, “What letters are you talking about?” She showed me a bundle of letters that she had in her hands and each letter was full of red hot passionate phrases. I saw straightaway that they were not written by me but I recognized the handwriting as that of my father who being such a nice person was happily and devotedly writing back to my lady fans trying to keep them all happy.

You seem to have spent quit a lot of time here in Italy?

On and off, Yes! I used to stay at the Hotel Hassler (Trinità dei Monti) overlooking the Spanish Steps with one of the most beautiful views in the world! I did seem to pass a lot of time in the recording studios. especially I also remember that did the music soundtrack for the film ‘Il Gaucho’ starring Vittorio Gassman.

Neil Sedaka a Roma Trinità dei Monti

Neil Sedaka in Rome on the Spanish Steps

Neil Sedaka on the Spanish Steps (Trinità dei Monti), Rome, 1964.

The only show you have not appeared in is the Sanremo Italian Song Festival.

Yes! I was supposed to do the 1965 Sanremo with the song ‘Non basta mai’ but that year RCA Italiana decided to withdraw all their artists from the festival because they had organized their own similar televised festival that they thought could counterbalance Sanremo. It was called ‘Pick-Up’. The Master of ceremonies was Walter Chiari and the singers were all under contract with RCA: Paul Anka, Rita Pavone, Gianni Morandi, Dalida, Alan Barriere, Jimmy Fontana and many others.

What a good memory you have!

hat was a golden happy go lucky and fun loving period and I was on good terms with everybody. The only exception to that was the slightly hostile Gino Paoli. Maybe that was due to the record company was thinking of asking me to record his lovely song ‘Sapore di sale’. He was piqued. Quite rightly so: he wanted to sing his own song. I had nothing to do with it because I had absolutely no say regarding the  policy or decisions of the record company.

Over the last few years a famous Italian singer, Antonello Venditti with his song ‘Settembre’ has been accused of having copied from your song ‘I must be dreaming’ which in Italian was ‘Un giorno inutile’. Some say your song was plagiarized by Venditti. What is your point of view?

I have listened to Venditti’s song and I think that although it seems reminiscent of my song one must remember how popular my song was in Italy when Venditti was a young boy. He wrote his song 25 years after my song and it is a fact that tunes do linger dormant in the recesses of ones mind and can pop up at any time. That is very complimentary to my song. Even if he had intentionally taken the idea from my songs I do not see anything wrong with that! Many of my earlier hits were inspired by songs of other singers that had unconsciously implanted themselves in my mind: Bobby Darin: Lloyd Price, Bobby Vee. The important thing is that one may get an idea from an other song but it then develops along a different track. Settembre is different from my song I must be dreaming.

Neil Sedaka “The Dreamer” (Cinebox 1963).

You have written more than a thousand songs! Which, above all is your favorite?

Definitely ‘Laughter in the rain’ that in 1975 put be back in limelight after ten years of oblivion. With the advent of the Beatles and the British Invasion my success had waned. I had stopped singing but I pulled through by writing songs for other artists such as Tom Jones and the Fifth Dimension. Then Elton John signed me up to his record label: I had a windfall of a few hits high in the charts and from then on I have thankfully never looked back. I have two grown up sons, twin nieces, and a nephew who are my pride and joy and I am happy to say that I am always booked to sing all over the world.

You have also had your songs in a recent Broadway musical hit.

Yes! It is called Stupid Cupid and the story of American teenagers in the nineteen fifties and bounces to the notes of my songs. Another pleasant surprise popped up in England where one of my songs of the seventies ‘Amarillo’ sung by Tony Christie is the theme song of a successful television series and for many months it was high in the charts. Both Christie and I have decided to give the royalties to Charity: this decision to give to charity was because ‘Amarillo’ is a song that in the past has already earned me sufficiantly.

Intervista Sedaka_1984_2

Michele Bovi con Neil Sedaka nel 1984 a Bussoladomani

Michele Bovi interviews Neil Sedaka in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka and his wife, Leba, in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka and his wife, Leba, in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka and his daughter, Dara, in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

Neil Sedaka and his daughter, Dara, in 1984 at the Bussoladomani, Viareggio Italy.

And regarding Italy?

In recent years two albums have been released with all my Italian songs. Obviously my faithful public has not forgotten ‘I tuoi capricci’ and ‘La terza luna’. On the other hand I have recorded in English ‘Nessun Dorma’ from ‘Turandot’ by Giacomo Puccini: it is entitled ‘Turning back the hands of time’ and it is part of a repertoire of classics from Chopin to Tchaikowsky that I have re-arranged, added lyrics and played together with symphonic orchestras in English and American theaters and also at the Carnegie Hall in New York. If I went back to Catania Sicily with a concert like this, then maybe this time I would not be booed and whistled off the stage.

Intervista_Sedaka_2005

Michele Bovi con Neil Sedaka nel 2005 durante un’intervista nella sua casa di New York.

Michele Bovi with Neil Sedaka in 2005 during an interview in his home in New York.

Sergio Endrigo

L’uomo che non ride è un poeta felice

IL PIÙ RAFFINATO CAPOSTIPITE DELLA CANZONE D’AUTORE ITALIANA È SCOMPARSO IL 7 SETTEMBRE DEL 2005. ECCO LA SUA ULTIMA INTERVISTA IN CUI TRACCIA UN BILANCIO SERENO E APPASSIONATO DI OLTRE 50 ANNI DI CARRIERA: IL MAESTRO JAQUES BREL E GLI ALTRI MODELLI DELLA CHANSON FRANCESE; LA SQUADRA RICORDI CON IL CENTRAVANTI GINO PAOLI; LE NOZZE MAGICHE TRA MELODIA E TESTO DA TAJOLI A DE GREGORI; I PROFILI RETORICI E REALI DELLE MUSE ISPIRATRICI TERESA, MADDALENA E ANNAMARIA.

Sergio Endrigo

Al manifesto de L’Uomo che Ride di Victor Hugo, una mano anonima aggiungeva un “non”. E quell’Uomo che Non Ride era l’incipit della scenetta. Alighiero Noschese, il caposcuola inarrivabile di tutti i Max Giusti, Max Tortora, Maurizio Crozza, aveva fatto di Sergio Endrigo una delle macchiette più gettonate del suo repertorio.
Lo imitava rasentando la perfezione senza nemmeno ricorrere a trucchi speciali, sporgendo in avanti il mento come il don Vito Corleone di Brando, l’espressione mesta, la fronte corrugata e gli occhi socchiusi, circondato da ballerine abbigliate a lutto e singhiozzanti, lui vestito di nero sibilava un po’ le “esse” e parafrasava “Lontano dagli occhi” intonando: “…non fate le corna, non fatemi torto, jella non porto ma rider non so”. E Sergio Endrigo masticava amaro: non sopportava quell’imitazione ma neanche si azzardava ad intervenire per lo scrupolo di frapporre censure e limitazioni al lavoro di un altro artista. Poi la goccia fatidica sopra il livello di guardia.

“Nell’ennesima parodia televisiva – racconta Endrigo – la canzone presa di mira diventò “Ci vuole un fiore” e sempre circondato da ballerine in vedovanza, Noschese mi rappresentò cantando: “Per far la bara, ci vuole il morto”. Troppo! Con me in quel momento c’era Sergio Bernardini, il patron della Bussola in Versilia. Sapevo che qualche sera dopo avrebbe ospitato proprio Noschese. “Digli che se riprova a dipingermi come il protagonista della Patente di Pirandello appena lo incontro gli spacco la faccia!” E da quel giorno Alighiero… dimenticò di inserirmi nel suo repertorio…”

Paura della nomea di menagramo?

“Terrore. Per un artista equivale alla morte civile. Un mio zio compositore di sinfonie incantevoli era stato praticamente messo al bando per una diceria del genere, ovviamente alimentata da concorrenti di scarso talento ma di spietata determinazione. Ricordo una volta in uno studio di registrazione della RCA che qualcuno lo nominò e subito un fonico si esibì nel più volgare dei gesti di scongiuro, incassando una raffica di improperi da parte mia”

Mia Martini pagò una parcella terribile per gli effetti di quella maledizione…

“Uno stato di emarginazione totale: impresari, discografici, colleghi, molti sogghignavano partecipando a quel gioco circolare di calunnie dettagliate, altri si dimostravano realmente impauriti dal contatto anche soltanto visivo  con quella povera ragazza marchiata come dispensatrice di calamità”

Lei cosa fece per aiutarla?

“Restavo fuori dal coro e insultavo i coristi quando mi capitavano a tiro. Cercavo di trasmetterle solidarietà, l’affetto per l’essere umano fragile, la stima per l’artista tangibile. La invitai a partecipare ad un mio progetto discografico: un album di canzoni venete in cui lei cantò due brani: Cecilia e Donna Lombarda. Al ritorno da uno dei miei periodici viaggi in Brasile le feci conoscere una canzone che sembrava scritta per la sua voce: Milho Verde. Le piacque, la incise: un’esecuzione soave e delicata come una farfalla rosa”

Sergio Endrigo “La Periferia” (Cinebox, 1962).

Le chiacchiere sulla sfortuna non hanno coinvolto Sergio Endrigo, forse per la sua tempestività nell’intervenire su Noschese o forse perché quell’ imitazione era così esilarante da palesare l’innocenza di contenuti e intenzioni. Ma l’immagine di artista e anche di uomo malinconico è sua compagna da sempre: per quei brani così intensi pur nella leggerezza della musica pop, per quelle interpretazioni così misurate nella compostezza scenica e melodica, per quei testi  così garbatamente introspettivi  pur nelle marcette per bambini sagaci. Cinquant’anni fa, al suo esordio,  Sergio Endrigo per il pubblico di tutte le età era già un adulto.
“Quando nel 1968 vinsi il Festival di Sanremo con Canzone per te il settimanale Epoca mi dedicò la copertina. La didascalia recitava: Trionfa a Sanremo un vecchio signore. Avevo 35 anni. Ma anche alcuni colleghi hanno talvolta espresso giudizi curiosi sul mio aspetto. Ricordo una simpatica e bella cantante che mi disse: sembri un ingegnere più che uno di noi. E Adriano Celentano commentò a Sanremo nel 1970: sembri un cowboy tra i grattacieli ”

Sergio Endrigo sul set del videoclip "La Periferia"

L’uomo Endrigo è effettivamente una persona seria, coerente, rigorosa e non di rado spigolosa. L’artista è quanto di meglio il nostro paese sia riuscito a produrre nell’ultimo mezzo secolo di canzoni d’autore. Un adulto – anche quando anagraficamente non lo era – che però ha sempre affascinato i giovani, un artista dal target transgenerazionale: Io che amo solo te nel 1963 fece sognare e innamorare eserciti di ragazzini e sbarbine, ma quel 45 giri conquistò anche i loro genitori e i genitori dei genitori, più di Oscar Carboni, più di Alberto Rabagliati.

“È vero, negli anni ’60 mi rivolgevo a tutto il pubblico, dai minori di 16 agli ultrasessantenni. Non c’era distinzione nella proposta musicale. E non mi riferisco soltanto alle mie proposte, ma anche a quelle di Paoli, di Gaber, di Meccia, di tutti gli altri  cantautori , di compositori-cantanti come Fidenco e Vianello. Oggi l’industria fabbrica offerte per giovani a spettro ridotto, che producono steccati, che ritardano o arrestano la crescita culturale”

Meriti e colpe dei discografici, un tempo audaci e illuminati, oggi miopi e tremebondi…

“Luoghi comuni con tante verità e parecchie eccezioni. Ho incontrato anche a quell’epoca ostacoli: il direttore delle vendite della RCA, Pulvirenti, era contrario all’uscita di Io che amo solo te perché reputava l’introduzione orchestrale eccessivamente lunga e raffinata: troppi archi, poca ritmica. Ma io ho sempre detestato la batteria!”

Ostacoli comunque superati…

“Sì, i discografici di quegli anni erano abbastanza rispettosi della volontà dell’artista: tante proposte, molti suggerimenti, rarissime imposizioni. C’era dialogo continuo che spesso si trasformava in dibattito allargato ad altri colleghi. Alla Ricordi facevo ascoltare i miei pezzi a Luigi Tenco, a Giorgio Gaber e loro facevano altrettanto; c’erano Nanni Ricordi e il suo vice Franco Crepax che incoraggiavano il confronto”

Sergio Endrigo “Ora che sai” (Cinebox, 1964).

Però con l’RCA ci fu un litigio che sfociò nel divorzio…

“Volevano che incidessi la versione italiana di un brano di Udo Jurgens: Warum Nur Warum. Mi rifiutai, insistettero al limite della soperchieria, me ne andai”

La versione italiana di Warum Nur Warum fu incisa dallo stesso Jurgens con il titolo Peccato che sia finita così…quasi una dedica all’Endrigo fuggito. E quella cover riscosse tra l’altro un invidiabile successo…

“Riconosco che era una canzone piacevole, magari anche adatta al mio repertorio. Ma non potevo e non dovevo accettare l’intimazione dell’azienda per non creare un precedente rischioso. Sono un cantautore ed era giusto che incidessi le mie canzoni. Già un anno prima avevo commesso quello che considero l’unico  errore della mia carriera, ossia registrare Se le cose stanno così, un brano composto dal maestro Bacalov con le parole di Alessandro Fersen, regista teatrale di chiara fama. Il disco vendette oltre un milione di copie. Una sera ebbi occasione di conoscere Fersen: lui era circondato da giornalisti e si confessò quasi imbarazzato per aver confezionato un prodotto di così modesta portata culturale. Un punto di vista che mi ferì a morte. C’era poi un’altra ragione per rifiutare la canzone di Jurgens: Ennio Melis, il direttore dell’RCA, manifestava più attenzione per i cantautori giovani, Francesco De Gregori e Antonello Venditti in testa. Era percettibile insomma l’orientamento a riverniciare il parco artisti: il mio fu un contropiede”

Dettato anche da un pizzico di gelosia?

“Per De Gregori? L’ho sempre e soltanto ammirato: è il cantautore italiano che preferisco”

Perché?

“Perché si applica con successo nell’infondere dignità alle canzoni attraverso testi di poesia brillante. Dal suo lavoro sono nate frasi come: “Capelli bianchi che si fermarono a una fontana a pettinare gli anni”. E riesce a coniugare poesia e melodia con efficacia straordinaria. È un matrimonio difficile, ma quando si consuma affiorano pagine indelebili. Mi piace ricordare Fontana e Migliacci con la loro bellissima: “Paese mio che stai sulla collina, disteso come un vecchio addormentato”. Non basta un testo fascinoso, il più geniale dei compositori potrebbe mettere in musica l’Inferno di Dante con esiti grotteschi. Se un testo incontra la giusta melodia il risultato è garantito a prescindere da ogni significato. Ricordo un brano di quando avevo 13 anni. Lo cantava Luciano Tajoli: “Il mare non ama i bastimenti alle catene, se il mare a nessun altro vuole bene, perché deve volerne a me?”. Suonava alla perfezione, nonostante l’evanescenza concettuale. Potrei fare altri esempi come “La pioggia non bagna il nostro amore quando il cielo è blu” oppure “Il mondo non si è fermato mai un momento, la notte insegue sempre il giorno ed il giorno verrà” frasi che stese su pagina hanno poco senso ma che sposate alle rispettive melodie acquisiscono un’energia portentosa”

Sta dicendo che il valore intrinseco dei due componenti – musica e testo – è trascurabile ai sensi del risultato della combinazione?

“Intendo dire che la canzone non deve necessariamente essere impregnata di poesia. Capolavori come Pippo non lo sa, Marameo perché sei morto o Il pinguino innamorato non erano stati corretti in bozza da Carducci”

Un’equidistanza sorprendente per essere il  cantautore italiano più apparentato con la poesia, che ha trasformato in canzoni i versi di Rafael Alberti, di Gianni Rodari, di Pier Paolo Pasolini, che ha inciso album assieme a Giuseppe Ungaretti e a Vinicius De Moraes. A ricordargli materialmente il poeta brasiliano de “La vita, amico, è l’arte dell’incontro” c’è sempre Paco, il variopinto pappagallo che in compagnia di Vinicius acquistò a Rio oltre trentacinque anni fa. Paco spizzica carote nella sua imponente gabbia accanto alla finestra: è il più in forma di tutti  in questa calda e umida giornata romana di fine agosto. Endrigo lamenta una serie di acciacchi, lotta da qualche tempo contro i mulini a vento che gli insidiano la salute. Lo scorso 15 giugno ha compiuto 72 anni, è vedovo da 11, vive con la figlia Claudia nella sua personale Arca di Noè che ospita oltre a Paco cani e micetti. Se il fisico è provato, lo spirito tiene botta: “Nessun rimpianto. Ho realizzato tutti i miei sogni, centrato i bersagli. Neanche troppo rammarico per i miei ultimi quattro album, strangolati da promozione inesperta e distribuzione inadeguata. Dico la verità: all’inizio non credevo che la mia carriera sarebbe durata tanto a lungo. Al mio esordio discografico, con “Bolle di sapone”, passavo davanti alle vetrine della Ricordi a Milano, dove il disco era esposto e mi chiedevo: ma perché mai qualcuno dovrebbe acquistare proprio il mio 45 giri?”

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Sergio Endrigo “La dolce estate” (Cinebox, 1964).

Sergio Endrigo è nato a Pola, capoluogo dell’Istria prima di passare nel 1947 sotto l’amministrazione jugoslava. Infanzia e adolescenza in  povertà, dopo la prematura morte del padre, scalpellino del marmo, ma anche pittore e tenore autodidatta. Prima qualche mestiere improvvisato, poi l’avventura della musica: la prima chitarra, ingaggi come cantante e contrabbassista nelle orchestrine dei night-club, in seguito voce solista di un complesso di rango, quello del sassofonista Riccardo Rauchi. Nel 1960 l’ingresso nell’ingegnosa area Ricordi, in squadra con Paoli, Tenco, Gaber, Jannacci, Bindi:  la Juventus della canzone d’autore. Chi era il centravanti?

“Gino Paoli. Partì subito con canzoni bellissime, molte rimaste sconosciute. Il più apprezzato degli autori: ottimo per Mina, eccellente per Ornella Vanoni. Ma lui no, non volevano farlo cantare. Quel tono di voce così fuorischema, disallineato, poteva rivelarsi noioso, persino irritante. Meglio non tentare. Anche la mia voce risultava non conforme alla tipologia convenzionale: feci un’audizione alla Rai per cantare nell’Orchestra di Pippo Barzizza e venni scartato. Voce e stile eccessivamente “americanizzati” fu la motivazione del verdetto di condanna pronunciato dalla Commissione Ascolti. Poi, per Gino e per me, sappiamo come andò”

Voi padri della canzone d’autore italiana a quali modelli vi ispiravate?

“Ci piaceva qualche fuoriclasse americano dello swing, tipo Nat King Cole. Tenco, che suonava anche il sax , adorava Paul Desmond.  Bruno Lauzi era attratto dalle magie del musical alla Gene Kelly, Bindi  coglieva i frutti della sua formazione classica. Ma in prima battuta eravamo tutti affascinati  dagli  chansonnier  francesi: dalla vecchia guardia di Charles Trénet ai più giovani Gilbert Bécaud, Charles Aznavour e soprattutto Georges Brassens. Io poi vivevo nell’incanto artistico di Jacques Brel, quei testi, quelle storie, quelle interpretazioni. Lo conobbi più tardi, a Roma nel 1964: era cordiale, sereno, gli confessai che senza la sua influenza non avrei mai potuto scrivere Viva Maddalena

Influenza a parte, qual è il metodo di scrittura di Sergio Endrigo?

“Scrivo alla chitarra. Parole e musica assieme. Il testo è fondamentale per stimolare la mia creatività. Se compongo soltanto la musica poi le parole non mi vengono più o mi fa difetto  l’abilità per adattarle alla melodia. Accadde una volta a Napoli: scrissi di getto una traccia musicale che mi sembrava deliziosa. Non persi tempo a cercare le parole, telefonai a Sergio Bardotti che confezionò rapidamente un testo altrettanto ammaliante: Te lo leggo negli occhi. Divenne un successo per Dino”

Perché non la cantò lei e comunque perché non l’ha mai incisa anche successivamente a Dino?

“Evidentemente in quel periodo avevo già il mio progetto discografico. La versione di Dino era perfetta, cosa avrei potuto aggiungere io a quel brano? Sono contento che l’abbia inciso recentemente Franco Battiato. La sua esecuzione è un omaggio importante, la mia sarebbe stata superflua”

L’ispirazione di un testo è facilitata da un innamoramento? C’è stata sempre una Teresa, una Maddalena, un’Annamaria propellente della composizione?

“Nel mio caso soltanto un’Annamaria. Si chiamava così un’impiegata dell’RCA, musa ispiratrice anche per Io che amo solo te. All’inizio della mia carriera, quando cantavo nei night-club, l’innamoramento era sistematico: le storie duravano circa 15 giorni, il tempo del contratto, lei era quasi sempre una frequentatrice abituale del locale, una spogliarellista, un’entreneuse, una guardarobiera. Amate molte, capita nessuna”

Abbiamo già parlato di poesia e di verosimiglianza dei testi. Analizziamo le donne delle sue canzoni. Maddalena che regala notti bianche è la compagna ideale per un uomo?

“È la gioventù che regala notti bianche. Con Maddalena. Si comincia sempre con Maddalena, con l’attrazione sessuale. Non credo nella verginità, renderei obbligatorio il periodo di convivenza prima del matrimonio. Tantomeno credo nella donna per amico”

Ingiungeva a Teresa di raccontare la verità sulle sue esperienze pregresse. Senza concederle il beneficio del dubbio o il velo di una pudica omissione…

“In amore ho stabilito il divieto di esibirsi in menzogne”

Il protagonista di Via Broletto 34 era un uomo geloso o un paranoico?

“Un uomo geloso”

Ma c’era bisogno di ucciderla?

“Convivevano. E lei lo tradiva spudoratamente. Mi ispirai ad un delittaccio di cronaca, conciato alla maniera di Brel”

Brel continua ad influenzare le nuove generazioni?

“Avverto le tracce di Brel soltanto nei lavori dei grandi. I Quattro amici al bar di Paoli mi ricordano i tre giovani vitelloni che stornellavano gli sfottò la sera davanti al Circolo dei Notai: “i borghesi sono dei porconi più diventan vecchi meno sono buoni” e che da adulti si ritrovano a loro volta notai, insomma Les Bourgeois. Anche la suggestiva I Vecchi di Claudio Baglioni mi fa pensare a Brel e ai suoi commoventi Les Vieux. Alcuni autori delle recenti generazioni si mostrano attenti nella ricerca dell’opera dei Maestri: è fondamentale conoscere la storia se si vuol scrivere qualcosa che rimane; gli altri creano testi che diventano cenere nell’arco di un mese. Testi standardizzati e voci massificate, dal timbro esatto e saldamente intonate ma senza personalità, anonime. Natalino Otto e Achille Togliani , impeccabili per timbro e per  intonazione, li riconoscevi fra un milione”

Il modello di molti giovani cantautori è proprio Sergio Endrigo.

“Me ne sono accorto ed è quanto di più gratificante possa accadere ad un anziano signore – oggi Epoca potrebbe scriverlo con persuasione anagrafica – che per tutta la vita ha sperato di lasciare un’impronta del suo passaggio. I giovani mi coccolano con manifestazioni di stima, allestiscono concerti che esplorano il mio repertorio, incidono i miei brani, compilano album in mio onore: sono artisti già affermati come Vinicio Capossela, Sergio Cammariere, Tosca, Cristiano De Andrè o in crescita inarrestabile come La Crus, il Parto delle Nuvole Pesanti o Simone Cristicchi che mi ha inoltre invitato a una partecipazione in voce per il suo ultimo lavoro. Ecco, quando ti senti di aver raggiunto il termine della strada e ti ritrovi circondato da una compagnia così vivace e grata, perdoni alla vita tutti gli oltraggi, anche il più invalidante, quello del deficit uditivo che a metà degli anni ’80 mi costrinse a ritirarmi dalle scene. Ero al festival di Sanremo, nel 1986: alle prove la mia esibizione era apparsa più che decorosa, poi in serata davanti al pubblico e alle telecamere dell’eurovisione, all’improvviso, il male. Non sentivo più l’orchestra e leggevo il disagio negli occhi del direttore mentre la mortificazione mi stringeva alla gola. Non sono mai guarito del tutto, ma ci sono state fasi sensibili di miglioramento, durante le quali sono tornato ad esibirmi e ad incidere.
Insomma il bilancio è in netto attivo, sono riconoscente verso il mio pubblico e i miei simili in generale. Oggi mi piacerebbe dire al povero Noschese che l’Uomo che Non Ride è comunque un uomo felice.

Roma, agosto 2005

Sergio Endrigo sul set del videoclip "La Periferia"

Nunzio Rotondo

Filosofo dell’improvvisazione

Nunzio Rotondo

“Il jazz è gioia: anche il brano più languido, più struggente, che sia My Funny Valentine di Chet Baker o I Remember Clifford di Benny Golson, esplode di energia appena all’esposizione del tema subentra l’improvvisazione. È il momento liberatorio del musicista, c’è esultanza in lui anche se la sequenza di note ispira malinconia. L’improvvisazione è una maschera teatrale, un camuffamento dello stato d’animo, il più efficace degli analgesici per lo spirito: tu suoni e l’appagamento ha la meglio su tutto il resto”. Così Nunzio Rotondo, la tromba jazz più autorevole della musica italiana, ci illustrò il suo senso per l’armonia generale quella sera del 2000, appena terminato di fraseggiare la toccante You Don’t Know What Love is. Eravamo scesi dal palco del Ti Voglio Bere, un Jazz Bar nel quartiere Prati di Roma: Claudio Colasazza al pianoforte, Dario Rosciglione al contrabbasso, Gianni Iadonisi al sax tenore, io al sax baritono per accompagnare lui, Nunzio Rotondo, il “Miles Davis italiano”, lo strumentista che il mio idolo Sonny Rollins non dimenticava di chiamare ogni volta che transitava nel nostro Paese.

1959. “Bernie’s Tune”. Nunzio Rotondo alla tromba e Gil Cuppini alla batteria. Frammento dal programma “Il Mattatore”. (Per visione o acquisto dell’intero filmato scrivere a www.teche.rai.it)

Così incontenibile era la sua voglia di suonare da non perdersi in distinzioni tra professionisti e dilettanti da ammettere in squadra. “L’improvvisazione è come ‘A Livella di Totò – rispondeva alle dichiarazioni di modestia – ci dispone tutti sullo stesso piano”. Sì, magari. Eppure era sincero Nunzio Rotondo che poneva l’improvvisazione al centro dello scibile musicale. Giocava coi paradossi a riscrivere la storia del jazz. “Ma quali americani! Il jazz è universale, è ubiquo, è nell’aria, è sempre esistito. Dimentichiamoci il ritmo: il jazz è soprattutto improvvisazione e l’improvvisazione era il terreno di sfida tra Mozart e Muzio Clementi, l’incentivo del genio di Bach, il propellente creativo del giovane Beethoven, il soffio vitale del codice gregoriano nella musica sacra”.

1978. Nunzio Rotondo (tromba), Bruno Biriaco (batteria), Enzo Scoppa (sax tenore), Stefano Lestini (piano elettrico), Franco D’Andrea (pianoforte), Dodo Goya (contrabbasso). Frammento dal programma “Incontro con Nunzio Rotondo”. (Per visione o acquisto dell’intero filmato scrivere a www.teche.rai.it)

Patrocinatore di ogni contaminazione purché diretta a esaltare il jazz era allegro e soddisfatto per aver coinvolto qualche settimana prima Lucio Dalla in una serie di concerti per tromba e clarinetto e addirittura nella riscrittura swing di 4 marzo 1943. Come per Vinicius de Moraes anche per Nunzio Rotondo la vita era l’arte dell’incontro: però un incontro ravvisato in una prospettiva settaria, quella di stabilire un contatto suonando assieme, con chiunque sapesse esprimersi improvvisando. Nunzio Rotondo se n’è andato il 15 settembre del 2009. Ci ha lasciato tanti dischi belli e il ricordo della sua appassionata storia d’amore. Per la musica jazz.

2000. Ti voglio bere. Claudio Colasazza (tastiera), Nunzio Rotondo (tromba), Dario Rosciglione (contrabbasso), Gianni Iadonisi (sax tenore), Michele Bovi (sax baritono).

The_Artistry_Of_Nunzio_Rotondo

Nunzio Rotondo, Louis Armstrong, Nini Rosso

Nunzio Rotondo, Louis Armstrong, Nini Rosso.

Nunzio Rotondo "The legend",raccolta di successi nella collana Via Asiago 10 Radio Rai.

Nunzio Rotondo “The legend”, raccolta di successi nella collana Via Asiago 10 Radio Rai.

Pierfranco Colonna

White man with a black voice

“A SUNNY SUMMER AFTERNOON of 1966 IN MILAN, ITALY. I HAD JUST SIGNED AN EXCLUSIVE RECORDING CONTRACT AS A SINGER WITH THE ARISTON RECORD COMPANY, THUS OPENING THE DOORS TO FAME AND STARDOM. UNFORTUNATELY, I WAS ALREADY SIGNED UP WITH ANOTHER RECORD COMPANY, CALLED VEDETTE WHICH HAD PROMISED THE SAME THINGS. I KNEW THAT I WOULD HAVE TO NIP AROUND THE CORNER TO VEDETTE RECORDS AND ASK THEM FOR A LITTLE PIECE OF PAPER TO RELEASE ME FROM THEIR CONTRACT SO AS TO ALLOW ME TO PRODUCE MYSELF. IT WAS A HOT MUGGY AFTERNOON AND I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WALKING ON A CLOUD, BUT I FELT COMPLETELY WORN OUT, SO, I FLOPPED DOWN IN THE NEAREST BAR TO COOL OFF AND SORT MY THOUGHTS OUT. A LARGE WHISKEY AND A JOINT HELPED ME OUT IN THAT RESPECT. I WAS STILL QUEASY AS I HAD NOT YET PLUCKED UP ENOUGH COURAGE TO FACE THE MUSIC, SO I TOOK A LITTLE PILL TO HELP ME CLIMB UP THE STAIRS TO THE VEDETTE OFFICES…”

Pierfranco Colonna

Pierfranco Colonna.

That is how it all began. A few cryptic autobiographical notes jotted down by Pierfranco Colonna together with the lawyer Maurizia Girlando. In the late mid-sixties, Pierfranco Colonna was one of the most promising singers in the Italian music scene. A bright comet that was sucked into the black hole of oblivion by his seemingly willful transgression: A promise unfulfilled, steamrollered by his un-reined excesses, alcohol, joints, all sorts of pills and much more. He passed away on a sunny day on the 9th of July 2001 at the age of 56 with an autobiography still unwritten. His real name was Franco Castellani. He was born in Turin, Italy in 1945. His first stage appearances were as the singer of a group called ‘I Ragazzi del Sole’ (The Sun Boys). He had lived in London for a while and spoke very good English, He sang the blues better than anybody else here in Italy and he was always quite a hit with the girls. He felt a bit hedged in and straight-jacketed within the group especially after inviting offers and proposals to go solo started falling into his lap. The record company director Alfredo Rossi along with the songwriter Franco Califano changed his name to Pierfranco Colonna because it sounds more classy for an elegant Italian bluesman especially because the surname of Colonna is well known in Italy for its noble origins. He recorded two good records and the public started to notice him, especially after he overwhelmingly won the upcoming-new-talents contest of the very popular Sunday television program ‘Settevoci’ (Seven Voices) hosted by the famous Italian Television Master of Ceremonies Pippo Baudo. They began nicknaming him as the ‘Whiteman with a Black voice’ but that nickname was later tailored to fit another Italian singer with the same tone of voice named Fausto Leali.

Pierfranco Colonna

Colonna became one of the most interesting Italian singers of Soul Music. In his shows, along with his own songs, he would only do songs of Otis Redding and Georgie Fame with his own group of musicians roped in from other well known bands: On the bass Mario Scotti ( who will later play with Lucio Battisti, Jimmy Smith and Ennio Morricone), on the drums Gigi Federici (who with Little Tony) and Roberto Senzasono (from the group the Skilars with Ricky Shayne): on the keyboards Thomas Gagliardone (from the New New Dada and later with the Equipe 84); on the guitar Piero Pantò (from the backing group of the singer Michele); on saxophones, Michele Bovi (who would later join the Pecore Nere (The Black Sheep); along with Mariano Lozzi and Paolino Sanna; on trumpet Filippo Bianchi (who played with Edoardo Vianello); a few more added unusual and spectacular on-stage attractions for that time were; bongos, played by his dear friend Enrico Buscaglia along with two dancers, one white and one black, who danced and sensually gyrated next to him while he sang.

Pierfranco Colonna

Pierfranco Colonna with the very first original members of the group Boa Boa.

Pierfranco Colonna, Boa Boa, Titan Club Roma.

Pierfranco Colonna, Titan Club, Roma 1967

Pierfranco Colonna and the group Boa Boa at the Titan Club in Rome in November of 1967. The members of the group are from left to right : Thomas Gagliardone (keyboards) , Roberto Senzasono (Drums), Piero Pantò (Guitar), Mario Scotti (Bass), Michele Bovi (Sax), Mariano Lozzi (Sax) Enrico Buscaglia (Congas). The young boy who is dancing in the foreground of the photo is Renato Zero who today is one of Italy’s most successful singers.

The organizer and planner of his shows was Massimo Bernardi, the go-ahead enterprising owner of the Titan Club in Rome, Italy – which was an alternative to the Piper Club and was a slightly more elite music-club – it attracted bigger international stars such as Stevie Wonder, Wilson Picket and Jimi Hendrix.
In May of 1968 Pierfranco Colonna and his group were the backup attraction in the Rome concerts of Jimi Hendrix. The singer from Turin seemed just one step from great fame and success.

La locandina del concerto di Jimi Hendrix al Teatro Brancaccio, Roma 1968
Pierfranco Colonna e i Boa Boa sul palco del Teatro Brancaccio

May 1968, Pierfranco Colonna and the Boa Boa on stage at the Brancaccio Theater in Rome opened and warmed up the first part of the Jimi Hendrix show. Framed in the light we can see Filippo Bianchi (Trumpet), Michele Bovi (Sax) Pierfranco Colonna, the Afro-American dancer Judith Six, Piero Pantò (Guitar).

Jimi Hendrix al Teatro Brancaccio, Roma 1968

Jimi Hendrix at the Brancaccio Theater in Rome in 1968.

Just three months later, on the Adriatic Romagnolo Coast, at the Bobo Club of Misano Mare the first downfall: He never made it to the stage, he was brought down by of an explosive mixture of drugs and alcohol.
From then onwards it was a sad endless downwards trail: a few bad records, few and far between public gigs, many hospitals, drug abuse and incarceration in Italy, more drugs and prison in South America, and everywhere else more drugs and hospitals.

Pierfranco Colonna

In the middle 1990’s he returned to Italy and he managed to break the drugs and booze habit and he tried a comeback to the world of stage and music. In 1999 he made and album called ‘Percorsi’ (Trails). His undying art was still intact and deeply rooted within, but his body was exhausted and his voice worn out. One significantly suggestive title in his album ‘Percorsi’ was, Maledetto Amore (Dammed Accursed Love) that seems to sound like a last verse in a diary: “My soul is a Company that is going broke, I have sold too many shares, I have had too many trials and tribulations, its me who is wrong, I say sorry God but I cant take any more, I want to go away, to rest a little, damned accursed love, dam my… I don’t know what”.

On the 17th of June 1997 the Rai 2 aired the News Health program ‘Tg2 Salute’ by Michele Bovi, dedicated to Pierfranco Colonna and the existential pathological ups and downs of his life. During the program the journalist Tito Manlio Altomare interviewed the singer and also the two specialists who were treating him – the toxicologist Angelo Zannero of the department of drug-addiction in the Maurizaino Hospital in Turin and the gastroenterologist-hematologist Sarinò Aricò and last of all Piero Pantò, the ex guitarist of Pierfranco Colonna’s group the Boa Boa.

DISCOGRAPHY (RECORDS/RECORDINGS)

I Ragazzi del Sole – I Ragazzi Del Sole, Jolly LP 1965
I Ragazzi Del Sole – Se mi chiamerai / Non ridere di me, Jolly 45giri 1966
Pierfranco Colonna – Quando un uomo non sa amare/Anche lei lo sa, Ariston 45giri 1966
Pierfranco Colonna – Un uomo senza pietà / Sotto gli alberi gialli, Ariston 45giri 1967
Pierfranco Colonna – Unca Dunca / Anche lei lo sa, Ariston 45giri 1967
Pier Franco Colonna – Passo / Che uomo sei, Apollo 45giri 1970
Franco Colonna – Apriti uomo / I giorni contati, Studio 45giri 1971
Pierfranco Colonna – Percorsi, Carosello CD 1999.

Alcuni dischi di Pierfranco Colonna

Pierfranco Colonna

La copertina del 45giri con le canzoni "Unca Dunca" e "Anche lei lo sa", illustrata da Bruno Bozzetto (1967).

Clem Sacco

The redemption of Clem Sacco. Prototype of a stark raving bonkers reeling and a rocking disjointed jitterbugging rock ‘n’ roller nutcase

CLEM SACCO; THE FORERUNNER OF BIZZARE JUMPY JITTERBUGGING NUTTY ITALIAN ROCK IS 81 YEARS OLD. HE IS THE GODFATHER OF AN ITALIAN DEMENTIA NUTCASE GROUP CALLED ‘THE SKIANTOS’ THAT WAS FORMED IN 1975, ALSO THE GROUP ‘ELIO E LE STORIE TESE’ (ELIO AND THE TAUT STORIES). NOWADAYS CLEM’S SONG ‘UOVO ALLA COQUE’ (A SOFT BOILED EGG) IS CONSIDERED BY THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF IRREVERENT ROCKERS A LANDMARK HISTORICAL ICON.

Clem Sacco

“Baciami la vena varicosa” (Kiss my varicose vein), “Succhiami il dente del giudizio” (Suck my wisdom tooth), “Strappami il pelo dal neo” (Pluck the hair out of my mole), “Vampira vampira vampira cha cha” (Vampire vampire vampire cha cha). These are not lyrics of songs by the Elio of the taut stories, or Freak Antoni of the Skiantos. Neither do they have anything to do with the group called Squallor. They are just the titles of songs written and recorded many years before, in the early sixties, by Clem Sacco, the most audacious, unhinged, wild and boisterous Italian pioneer of irreverent rebel rock ‘n’ roll. He lived a fast reckless daredevil life, somewhat along the lines of Blasco (an often used nickname of the very famous Italian Rock singer Vasco Rossi) and the as free as a bird Steve McQueen whom we can say was almost as free spirited as the great Voltaire. Clem was born in Cairo 1933 of Italian parents. His father was Sicilian and his mother was Piedmontese. They had emigrated to Northern Africa in search of a better life and like many other Italian immigrants, were hard workers. Just like the parents of Clem’s school mate Yolanda Gigliotti who like many schoolgirls dreamt of becoming film stars, while Clem dreamt of becoming a an opera singer.

Clem Sacco

Both Clem Sacco’s and Yolanda Gigliotti’s fathers ended up in prison. Those were hard days of misery, trouble and strife and the end of all illusions. After the war the young ones left for Europe. Yolanda went to Paris, France where she became the famous singer Dalidà and Clem went to Milan, Italy to study singing. To pay his way through the Civic School of Classical Opera Music, Clem worked in the main Fruit and Vegetables Market mainly unloading crates of apples and tomatoes and in his spare time he taught Body Building and physical fitness training in a couple of gymnasiums. In that period Italy was producing many mythological sword and sandal films featuring Maciste and Hercules. When Clem was in Egypt, he became proficient in the decathlon and consequentially had a highly developed chest and rock hard muscles like Steve Reeves, but alas, his mind was set in another direction; his hero was Enrico Caruso. He graduated from the school of music and went for an audition in Mantova where they were looking for a young baritone for the opera season. Clem came second in the auditions and was so upset that he swore to himself that he would never dress up in the Rigoletto costumes. If he wanted to eat twice a day then he would have to make a living in modern light music such as pop or rock and roll. He thought that it was easier to make money in Night Clubs and Dance Halls than it is in classical theatres such as La Scala. Little did he know! It is 1955 and from far away America we hear the first bouncing notes and jumpy rhythms of new songs with groovy sounds: A swinging singing guitar thumper with a kiss curl that reminds us of a petit and lovable Italian vaudeville style comedian named Erminio Maccario. Here comes the great Bill Haley, the kingpin of the newborn world conquering Rock ‘n’ Roll that makes even the chairs dance, reel and roll with “Rock around the clock”. Milan, like the rest of the world jumped on the Rock ‘n’ Roll bandwagon. Overnight newborn rockers and rollers became improvised musicians who gyrated around the Arcade of central Milan exchanging hastily written sheet music of songs high-jacked from the juke-boxes and tinny home-made mono recordings on spools of primordial magnetic recording tape. Within a couple of years a whole new harvest of Rebel Rousers sprouted up imitating and styling themselves as puffed up pseudo Marlon Brando or James Dean, their legendary heroes.

Clem Sacco “L’angolino dell’amore”(The little corner of love) Cinebox, 1961.

The pioneers of Italian rock were Giuseppe Negroni, Franco Vicini, Johnny Baldini, Silvano Silvi, Big Guidano (later; Guidone), Fausto Denis (later; Fausto Leali), Jean Luck (later; Luciano Vieri), Brunetta, Ghigo and (last but not least) Clem Sacco. At the end of the decade the late arrival of those who were destined to become famous: Baby Gate (later; Mina), Adriano Celentano, Giorgio Gaber. During their periodical gatherings, these rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts jumped rocked, rolled and bounced between the Ice Rink stadium and the Smeraldo Theater. In these happy happenings there were two foreigners; Colin Hicks (the younger brother of the 1950’s King of British Rock ‘n’ Roll Sir Tommy Steel) with his accompanying group The Cabin Boys who were often seen and heard at the Santa Tecla music bar. The other personality Little Tony (and his Brothers) for the Italians is theoretically a foreigner because he was born in and is, a citizen of the tiny castle dominated fairy tale Republic of San Marino, which is a medieval jewel completely landlocked within the Italian mainland.

Clem Sacco with his Califfi (The Caliphs) “Oh mama, voglio l’uovo à la còque” (Oh mama, I want a soft boiler egg) Cinebox, 1962.

Clem Sacco and Ghigo do seem to have more artistic drive and talent than the others: they are the only ones that write and sing their own songs. Ghigo wrote and sang “Coccinella” (Ladybird (Ladybug)) and managed to appear on the very famous and very popular television music show “Musichiere” featuring Mario Riva but after that show he fell prey to the fangs of the Italian censors who firmly rejected his other songs as misleading. It was as if the Italian Board of Censors had rubber-stamped on his forehead with the word Banned: every single song he recorded seemed to specifically to offend everybody “Enea con il neo” (Enea and his mole), “Il deficiente” (The deficient idiot), “Spacca, rompi, spingi” (Smash, break, push) without even mentioning “varicose veins” or “uova alla coque” (Soft boiled eggs). All these song seemed to be an ignominious resounding slap in the face of narrow minded prudery. But, on the other hand, what must one think of someone who wails, screams and prances all over the stage in leopard-skin underpants.

Clem Sacco “The deficient” (The nutcase) Cinebox, 1962.

Clem Sacco recalls that, “The day after that first show at the Smeraldo Theater I went to the Durium record company thinking that I would get the Red Carpet treatment from the president Mr Krikor Mintigian due to the fact that all Milan was talking about my performance of ‘soft boiled egg’ in my leopard-skin underpants”. Instead I was shouted down to the tune of “You have dragged us though the mud with your disgusting and outrageous performance! Get out of my office and don’t ever you dare to set foot here again!” Thus was born yet another embargo! Not only had the Italian Television company had banned him but now also the record companies and the music publishers. But he stubbornly pushed on: in 1961 Clem was the lead voice of ‘I Ribelli’ (The Rebels) who were the Clan’s backing group of Celentano. He had to stand in for Adriano Celentano who had been called up for national service in the Italian army. In agreement with Celentano the posters announced “The Clan of  Celentano presents ‘I Ribelli’ (The Rebels) with the vocalist Clem Sacco. The saxophone player of ‘I Ribelli’ Natale Massara, states that “Clem was the only person around that could credibly substitute the boss Adriano Celentano. He sang the whole Celentano repertoire and also added some of his own hilarious and explosive songs. The audiences loved it! He was a born natural freaky entertainer. When Celentano was dimobbed from the army he recorded the song “Basta” (That’s enough) and Clem formed another group called “I Califfi” (The Caliphs). The members were Gino Santercole (who is the nephew of Celentano) on the guitar, Dino Pasquadibisceglie (who to this day still works with Celentano) and on the drums Enrico Maria Papes who later became famous in Italy with his own group “I Giganti” (The Giants) in which he was the percussionist and was renowned for his deep bass voice.

Clem Sacco

Clem Sacco and his Califfi (Caliphs).

A firm believer in Clem was Angelo Bottani, the right hand man of the president of the famous Milanese football club “Inter”. Mr Bottani, a versatile financial operator, embarked upon the Cinebox enterprise. The Cinebox was the new video juke-box that enchanted the younger generation in the early sixties that had signed up Clem to sing in 5 videos: Today they are considered landmarks in music video history. Also the film director Carlo Infascelli hired Clem to play a nutty prisoner in his 1963 film “Canzoni, bulli e pupe”. But the Italian board of censors clamped down their ban on the Italian Radio and Television and the (red card) the heavy hand of the powerful president of Duriam records Mr Mintangian did the rest by effectively boycotting Clem out of the music business. Once again Clem did not give up! He continued to write many irreverent cranky trashy songs with way out words and if he wanted them on the market he was obliged to creat his own record company and label and he also had to distribute them himself almost hand to hand.

Clem Sacco “Chunga Twist” Cinebox, 1962.

The Orchestra Director Vinci Tempera recalls that; “In Milan, right in front of the shop-front of the music publishers, distributors and record company ‘Messaggerie Musicali’ you could always find the permanently parked Camper of Clem Sacco that was his own all in one mobile supermarket. He used to sell to anyone and everyone his own records plus a large variety of miscellaneous wares that ranged from nail-clippers to soft porn playing cards. When I was young I sometimes played the piano in his group and I came to realize his natural talent and I found it absurd, demeaning and mortifying that he should be in such a situation. Not withstanding he seemed to live a good life. He was always happy go lucky, on the ball and full of Gung-Ho and gumption. In one song a line was “Papà, I want a quarter of Lion meat”. It would seem that his father had effectively given him the lion-meat! Once again, only a few days ago, I met Clem and although he wears glasses and has a few more lines than he used to have, he is still a strong, very bouncy and spirited person. He still has the same booming deep and forceful lion’s voice that he had forty years ago.

Clem Sacco “Vino, Chitarra e luna” (Wine, guitar and moon) Cinebox, 1962.

In order to survive Clem has had to invent a thousand trades (jobs): he posed as a model for the sculptor Francesco Messina at the Brera Art Academy in Milan, a representative, a door to door encyclopedia salesman and a few and far between gigs (one nighters) that he manages to wrangle out of tight-fisted agents. Clem tells us that “One agent said: there is nothing for you…..unless…no!….I don’t dare to ask you. It is a job (booking) that everyone (every artist) has refused, even those who are a little strange. I told him that I would have to accept any type of booking! So he told me that it was a contract for six months as an attraction in the Alexander Bar whose public was exclusively homosexual. I did not ask him to repeat the offer because I accepted it on the spot. I went and bought an outlandish long haired wig and promptly changed my name for a six month stint as a hairy legged Clementina Gay. I started singing, raving, ranting ‘n’ rockin’ ‘n’ a rollin’ dressed in drag. With a wife and kids to keep, it was like Pennies from heaven.

Clem sacco

As time passed, his music career slowly wound down until it became his alterative pastime pleasure job. For many years he has been living in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and he has sung every type of song from classical to Folk to Rock ‘n’ Roll in every nook and cranny that has an audience, night-clubs, restaurants, bars, folk-clubs beach parties. He has sung, shake, rattle and rolled, all over the Canary Islands a hundred times over and they still want more.

He came back to do a few shows in Italy in 2006. He was invited to Musicultura in Macerata. A rolling river and waterfall of applause hailed the TNT grandfather who was loudly appreciated by the younger generation: Three young groups have recorded some of his songs: Gaby e i Batmacumba (see the Modena City Ramblers), the Serf and the Cabona Abusers.

Clem Sacco was a guest of honor on the 18th of July at the Porretta Soul Festival singing “Vampira Cha Cha (Baciami la Vena Varicosa)” (Vampire Cha Cha (Kiss my varicose vein) and the accompanying group was the Memphis All Star Rhythm & Blues Band.

In January of 2007 Clem Sacco and the famous Italian Radio and Television personality Renzo Arbore, presented the ‘RAI Television Channel 2’ documentary program ‘Tg2 Dossier Storie’ which was dedicated to 50 years of Italian Rock. In the same period Gene Gnocchi, who hosted the RAI Channel 2 television program, “Grande Notte” awarded Clem Sacco a prize of honor for being “The most irreverent and transgressive artist in the history of Italian Rock”.

Clem also appeared in two Rai 1 TV programs: in ‘I Migliori Anni’ (The best years) in 2009 and in ‘Ciak Si Canta’ (Clapper Board and Sing) in 2010 which was hosted by the famous Italian singer and Master of Ceremonies Pupo. During this show Clem’s new music video entitled ‘Baciami La Vena Varicosa’ (Kiss My Varicose Vein) was shown. The video was screen-played and directed by Asia Argento who is a self-declared ‘long-time passionate and ardent fan’ of Clem Sacco. Asia Argento is the actress and film director who is considered ‘The Queen of horror”. She is the daughter of the even more famous Dripping Blood King of Horror film director Dario Argento. When asked if she would do a video for the television program ‘Ciak Si Canta’ she replied “NO! Never!”. When she was told it would be with the Italian ‘Irreverent King of Nutty Rock and Roll Clem Sacco’ she excitedly exclaimed “I will gladly do it free of charge!”

Clem Sacco in the music video “Vampira Cha Cha (Baciami la vena varicosa)” (Vampire Cha Cha (Kiss my varicose vein) screen-played and directed by the famous actress/film director Asia Argento and produced together with her companion the Film Director Michele Civetta especially for the Rai 1 program “Ciak Si Canta” (9th April 2010).

Vince Tempera says that “of today everybody tends to pump up songs by adding irrelevant salt and pepper and persimmon fruits. The market seems to accept obscenity and blesses every type of provocation but categorically refuses irreverent disrespectful transgression. Clem Sacco is undoubtedly the first utterly courageous transgressive Italian Rock Artist. He was and still is authentic: he paid the high price of his audacity with the total censorship and disapproval by short sighted moralists and reactionaries. All throughout his life we have never heard him moaning, shouting, raving or letting off verbal steam on street corners. In public he has never said a word against his detractors. One could say that he seems to democratically respect their opinions.”

Summing up, we can hereby redeem the great 81 year old Clem Sacco, as the Godfather and King of Bizarre Audacious Irreverent Jumpy Jitterbugging Nutty Italian Rock.

Clem Sacco

Clem Sacco live at Fonclea Riverside, August 1 2014. Piano Detto Mariano, drum Gianni Dall'Aglio, guitar Johnny Charlton, bass Gianni Colaiacomo, sax Michele Bovi.

Clem Sacco live at Fonclea Riverside, August 1 2014. Piano Detto Mariano, drum Gianni Dall’Aglio, guitar Johnny Charlton, bass Gianni Colaiacomo, sax Michele Bovi.

“How I met Clem Sacco”

Narrated by Johnny Charlton, the ex lead guitarist of The Rokes, the most popular and famous English group in Italy during the nineteen sixties.

Johnny Charlton

Johnny Charlton.

I had the fortune to meet Clem Sacco during the Rai uno Italian Television show Ciak si Canta (Clapper board and sing) in 2010. I found him meditating contentedly in an armchair in the completely empty and silent TV studio. I recognized him, broke the spell and presented myself. He politely asked me; “Where are the dressing rooms?”
While a young lady from the organization was welcoming him and talking about the program he was offered a glass of champagne. Without thinking twice, he deftly extracted his dentures, put them in a glass and started gleefully sipping the champagne from his challis and after each mouthful happily and noisily sucked his gums. Only when he noticed the wide eyed shocked expression upon the ladies face did he exclaim; “Champagne tastes much better without false teeth! One can actually taste and play around with the bubbles!”
Clem is an easy to get on with, nice and pleasant, happy go lucky smiling person. His attire is everyday and certainly not eccentric in any way. He lives in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and is a person who lives life to the fullest. He is still an uncontrollably free as the wind beachcomber who has many interests and a fine eye for beautiful sunsets, sea and sand. But, when he hears a bit of rock ‘n’ roll and feels an audience, he lights up like a Christmas tree and becomes the bouncy, lovable, cranky, irreverent jitterbugging life and soul of the party. When I think about it, I do believe that a very big chunk of humanity would like to be just like him.