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23 July 2013

Rocco Granata

Rocco Granata (1938) is a Belgian-Italian singer and an occasional actor. In 1959, he had an international smash hit with the song Marina. He toured the world and even performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. A feature film entitled Marina was released in 1960, which set the stage for a string of German hits and Schlagerfilms.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4545. Publicity card for the monthly Juke Box.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard by Int. Filmpers (I.F.P.), no. WPS 22. Publicity card for the magazine Song Parade.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard.

Rex Gildo, Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4687. Photo: Hafbo. Publicity still for the Schlagerfilm Marina (Paul Martin, 1960), which was distributed in Holland as Teenagers Schlager Parade. The girl between Rex Gildo and Rocco Granata is the female lead of the film, Italian actress Giorgia Moll.

Manuela and Marina
Rocco Granata was born in Figline Vegliaturo in the South of Italy in 1938. When he was ten years old his family left sunny Calabria for the cold Belgian mining district. At the age of fifteen his father allowed him to skip school and he started working as a mechanic in a Vespa-shop. During the weekends, Rocco toured Belgium with his band The International Quintet. First he only played accordion, but soon he also became the singer of the band. He started singing sentimental Italian ballads. One of these songs was especially loved by the dancing crowd: Manuela. In 1959 he released Manuela as a single, but instead the B-side, Marina, became an international smash hit. Marina hit #1 in Belgium as well as charts across Europe and in America. Over 40 years, the single would sell a recordedly one hundred million copies worldwide. It has been covered many times by artists such as Dalida, Dean Martin, Celia Cruz and Louis Armstrong. After the success of Marina, Rocco toured around the world, including dates at Carnegie Hall and the San Remo Festival. Granata sang and acted in a dozen German and Belgian films. His debut Marina (Paul Martin, 1960) set the stage for a string of German hit records such as Buona Notte Bambino in 1963. More Schlagerfilms followed, including Gauner-Serenade/Rogue Serenade (Thomas Engel, 1960), Hochzeit am Neusiedler See/Wedding at Lake Neusiedler (Rolf Olsen, 1963), and Ein Ferienbett mit 100 PS/A Holiday Sleeper with 100 HP (Wolfgang Becker, 1965) starring Vivi Bach.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard by gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 4862. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard, no. 1061.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam (Dutch licence holder of Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin), no. 4876, ca. 1961. Photo: Erwin Scheider / Ufa.

Rocco Granata
Vintage postcard.

Arthouse
In the mid-sixties Rocco Granata became a successful record producer. He owned the music publishing company Granata Music Editions and his own record company Cardinal Records. He started producing for Belgian artists such as Marva, Louis Neefs and Miel Cools. Occasionally he acted in Belgian films like Jonny en Jessy/Johnny and Jessy (Wies Andersen, 1972) and Zware jongens/Tough Guys (Robbe de Hert, 1984). His song Buona Notte Bambino featured prominently at the soundtrack of the German arthouse film Händler der vier Jahreszeiten/The Merchant of the Four Seasons (1971), directed by the legendary Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In 1989, Granata commissioned a dance remix of Marina, which again topped the Belgian charts as well as those of Italy and Germany. He has appeared regularly on Belgian television, and served as a jury member for the 2002 Flemish preliminaries for The Eurovision Song Contest. In 2008 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Belgian music industry. He made cd's like Paisellu Miu (2007), and Ricominciamo (2010) with autobiographical songs full of longing and nostalgia, love and passion. Over the course of his career, Rocco Granata has released some 65 albums. Although he has sold many copies of his other songs (altogether he made it 9 times to the top 10 of the Belgian hitparades), the enormity of the success of Marina basically has reduced Rocco to a one-hit wonder. In 2011, Rocco Granata presented a new album, Rocco con Buscemi, with DJ Dirk Swartenbroekx, aka Buscemi. The single O Sarracino was a small hit and can be heard on the soundtrack of the Dutch comedy Valentino (Remy van Heugten, 2013). A motion picture about his life, Marina, will be released later this year. In the film directed by Stijn Coninx, Rocco Granata is played by Matteo Simoni (Rocco as teenager) and by Cristiaan Campagna (the young Rocco).

Rocco Granata
German postcard by Terra-Color, no. F 188.

Rocco GranataRocco Granata
Belgian collector's card, no. 10, and cut-out piece of a Dutch postcard.

Rocco Granata
Dutch postcard.


Clip of O Sarracino. Source: Mostiko2 (YouTube).

Sources: RoccoGranata.be, The Belgian Pop & Rock Archives, Wikipedia and IMDb.

2 comments:

Andi B. Goode said...

Oh, neat! This is really interesting. Marina is one of my all-time favourite songs. =D
-Andi x

Chong said...

Gorgeous!