08 December 2013

Gianni Morandi

Italian pop singer and entertainer Gianni Morandi (1944) reportedly sold more than 30 million recordings and appeared in 18 films. In 1970, he represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest with Occhi di ragazza. His career went into a decline in the late 1970s but underwent a revival in the 1980s. He won the San Remo Festival in 1987, placed second in 1995 and third in 2000. Having enjoyed four decades of unmatched success, Gianni Morandi is among Italy's greatest performers of all time.

Gianni Morandi
Italian postcard by Edizione Diese, Monticielli.

Gianni Morandi
Italian postcard. Photo: RCA

The Italian Paul Anka

Gian Luigi Morandi was born in the village of Monghidoro on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines in 1944. His father, Renato Morandi, was active within the Italian Communist Party and Gianni used to help him sell the party newspapers.

To make ends meet Gianni worked at an early age as a shoe-shiner, a cobbler and as a soda and candy vendor in the village's only cinema.

He made his performance debut at age 12, singing in the public square on New Year's Day of 1956. His vocal abilities led him to a number of small gigs, some of which were during the Communist Party’s activities. His parents moved him from traditional schooling to a school in Bologna, where he studied song and performance with master vocalist Alda Scaglioni.

Morandi made his official debut in 1958 in Alfonsine, Ravenna. His film debut followed in the comedy Totò ciak/Totò Clapper Loader (Daniele D'Anza, 1960) starring the popular comedian Totò.

Morandi formed a band, and was soon referred to as 'the Italian Paul Anka'. In 1962, Morandi won a small talent competition where he met and impressed boxing and entertainment promoter Paul Lionetti, who arranged an audience with executives of RCA Victor. He was signed by RCA Italia and his premier 45 record was Andavo a Cento All'ora (I Went to 100 per Hour).

Gianni Morandi
Yugoslavian collectors card.

Gianni Morandi
Yugoslavian postcard.

Italy’s Darling

Gianni Morandi achieved national stardom with his third 45, Fatti mandare dalla mamma (Let Your Mother Send You).

Some of his songs took momentum through soundtracks of such films as I maniaci/The Maniacs (Lucio Fulci, 1964) starring Walter Chiari, and 008: Operation pace/008: Operation Peace (Tullio Piacentini, 1965).

Morandi also starred in several musicarelli, typical Italian musicals with a flimsy plot, shot and edited in no time after a song had become a hit. During the production of the first of these films, In ginocchio da te/On My Knees For You (Ettore Maria Fizzarotti, 1964), Morandi met Laura Efrikian.

Efrikian was the daughter of a famous conductor of Armenian origin and was already an established actress. They married secretly in 1966 and when Laura became pregnant Morandi’s military service was temporarily postponed.

Later, on leave from military service, Gianni worked on the film Per amore… per magia/For Love…For Magic (Duccio Tessari, 1967), an ambitious cross between a musical and the story of Aladdin. The film was a flop at the box office.

Throughout the 1960s Gianni remained Italy’s darling. His songs Non son degno di te (I Am Not Worthy of You) and Scende la pioggia (The Rain Comes Down) were certified as having each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.

He won a number of Italian popular song festivals, including the Canzonissima festival in 1965 with Non son degno di te, in 1968 with Scende la pioggia and in 1969 with Ma chi se ne importa (But Who Cares?).

Gianni Morandi
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscar Color S.A., Hospitalet (Barcelona), no. 302. Photo: RCA Victor.

Gianni Morandi
Italian postcard by Silvercart, Milano, no. 532/2.

Eurovision Song Contest

In 1970, Gianni Morandi represented Italy in Amsterdam at the Eurovision Song Contest with Occhi di Ragazza (Eyes of a Girl). He finished eighth out of eleven.

During the late 1970s, he experienced a period of slight decline, but he regained popularity during the 1980s. He won the San Remo Festival in 1987 with Si può dare di più (One Can Give More) together with Enrico Ruggeri and Umberto Tozzi.

With Barbara Cola he became 2nd in 1995 with In amore (In Love) and he became 3rd in 2000 with Innamorato (Being In Love), written by Eros Ramazotti.

At a performance for War Child in 1999 he sang Maria, Marí together with Luciano Pavarotti. It is estimated that Morandi has sold 30 million recordings.

He has written a number of autobiographical books and appeared in 18 films. His later feature films included Il provincial/The Provincial (Luciano Salce, 1971), La cosa buffa/The Funny Thing (Aldo Lado, 1972), the comedy F.F.S.S. cioè che mi hai portato a fare sopra a Posillipo se non mi vuoi più bene?/The National railways, Or Why Did You Bring Me All the Way to Posillipo if You Don’t Love Me Anymore? (Renzo Arbore, 1983) and Panni sporchi/Dirty Linen (Mario Monicelli, 1999) with Mariangela Melato and Ornella Muti.

Morandi also was the host in popular Italian television shows and was an actor in several TV series, a.o. as Claude Jade's husband Davide in Voglia di volare/Wanting to Fly (Pier Giuseppe Murgia, 1984).

Gianni Morandi has three children: Marco Morandi and Marianna Morandi from his first wife, Laura Efrikian (they divorced in 1979), and Pietro from his second wife, Anna Dan, whom he married in 2005.

Gianni sings Ritornero In ginocchio da te in the film In ginocchio da te (1964). Source: divergoulart (YouTube).

Gianni Morandi sings Stringimi le mani in 2007. Source: Castellina (YouTube).

Sources: Evan C. Gutierrez (AllMusic), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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