Showing posts with label Bobby Solo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bobby Solo. Show all posts

23 August 2018

Pino Presti – bass player and composer

Talented musician could sing, play guitar, compose and conduct

Pino Presti has been one of the Italian music scene's most important figures since the 1960s
Pino Presti has been one of the Italian music scene's
most important figures since the 1960s
Pino Presti, one of the most important personalities in the Italian music business, was born Giuseppe Prestipino Giarritta on this day in 1943 in Milan.

He is a bass guitar player, arranger, composer, conductor and record producer and his work ranges between the different music genres of pop, jazz, funk, latin and dance.

His father, Arturo Prestipino Giarritta, was a well-known violinist and Presti began studying piano and music theory at the age of six.

He taught himself to play the bass guitar and began playing professionally at the age of 17, having developed his own special technique using either the pick or thumb.

Presti was a pioneer of electric bass and was probably the first to play a Fender Jazz Bass in Italy.

His talent for playing the instrument led him to collaborate with the major Italian pop artists of the 1960s, including the famous singer, Mina, who is Italy's all-time top-selling female recording artist. Presti arranged and conducted 86 tracks and composed four songs for her, also sometimes backing her as a singer.

Presti enjoyed a long working relationship with the major Italian star, Mina
Presti enjoyed a long working relationship
with the major Italian star, Mina
Among the many other artists he worked with were Bobby Solo, Gigliola Cinquetti and Adriano Celentano

In 1976 he created and produced for Atlantic Records, the album, Ist Round, which was considered the first funk dance production and one of the most innovative albums of the 1970s in Italy.

In 1977 he signed a contract with RAI2 to be arranger, conductor and composer of original music for the famous TV show, Auditorio A, and he was responsible for conducting a big band of 56 notable musicians.

Presti also collaborated with some of the biggest names on the international music scene such as Shirley Bassey, Wilson Pickett, Stephane Grappelli and Maynard Ferguson.

In 2013 he produced the tribute album Shirley Bunnie-Foy, consisting of 17 tracks performed by jazz vocalist Shirley Bunnie-Foy during her 60-year career.

In 2014 he composed, co-produced and released under the pseudonym Mad of Jazz, the album Deep Colours and in 2016 he composed the music for the advertising campaign of Scavolini, an Italian kitchen and bathroom manufacturer.

Between 1967 and 1985 Presti trained in Shotokan karate under Japanese masters and obtained his 5th degree black belt in Rome in 1987.

Since 2004, he has lived in Nice in the South of France.

The Piccolo Teatro in Milan
The Piccolo Teatro in Milan
Travel tip:

Milan, where Presti was born and lived for many years, has a wealth of theatres with a long tradition of staging different entertainment. Teatro Litta next to Palazzo Litta in Corso Magenta is believed to be the oldest theatre in the city. Teatro Dal Verme in San Giovanni sul Muro opened in 1872 and the Piccolo Teatro in Via Rivoli opened in 1947. Milan’s most famous theatre, Teatro alla Scala, in Piazza della Scala, across the road from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II,  was first inaugurated in 1778. The theatre has a fascinating museum that displays costumes and memorabilia from its long history. The entrance is in Largo Ghiringhelli, just off Piazza Scala. It is open every day except the Italian Bank Holidays and a few days in December. Opening hours are from 9.00 to 12.30 and 1.30 to 5.30pm.

One side of the Sforza Castle in Milan
One side of the Sforza Castle in Milan
Travel tip

One of the other main sights in Milan is the impressive Sforza castle, Castello Sforzesco, built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. After Ludovico Sforza became Duke of Milan in 1494 he commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to fresco several rooms. The castle now houses some of the city’s museums and art galleries. For more information visit

More reading:

How Mina changed the rules for women in 1960s Italy

Adriano Celentano spans the ages of Italian pop music

Gigliola Cinquetti - Italy's first queen of Eurovision

Also on this day:

1945: The birth of 60s singing star Rita Pavone

1974: The death of pioneering psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli


18 March 2018

Bobby Solo - pop singer

Sixties star found fame after Sanremo disqualification

Bobby Solo was heavily influenced by his idol Elvis Presley
Bobby Solo was heavily influenced
by his idol Elvis Presley
Bobby Solo, who was twice winner of Italy's prestigious Sanremo Festival yet had his biggest hit with a song that was disqualified, was born Roberto Satti on this day in 1945 in Rome.

The singer and songwriter won the contest in 1965 and again in 1969 but it was the controversy over his 1964 entry that thrust him into the spotlight and sent him to the top of the Italian singles charts with the first record to sell more than one million copies in Italy.

To emphasise that the competition was to select the best song, rather than the best artist, each entry was sung by two artists, one a native Italian, the other an international guest star. In 1964, Solo was paired with the American singer Frankie Laine to showcase Una lacrima sul viso (A Tear on Your Face).

Laine performed the song in English but Solo was stricken with a throat problem. Rather than withdraw, he sang the song with the help of a backing track, only to be told afterwards that this was against the rules.

Solo celebrates his victory at Sanremo in 1965
Solo celebrates his victory at Sanremo in 1965
The song was disqualified but attracted such attention that it became a huge hit, topping the Italian singles chart for eight weeks. Sales in Italy and other countries eventually topped two million and set Solo on the way to a highly successful career.

On the back of the song's success, Solo - a rock and roll singer in the mould of his idol, Elvis Presley - starred in a movie, also entitled Una lacrima sul viso, in which he sang not only the title track but several other of his songs.

In 1965 he returned to Sanremo, where he was chosen to sing Se piangi, se ridi (If you cry, if you laugh), of which the American folk ensemble the New Christy Minstrels performed an English version, and this time won.  The song gave Solo his second No 1 in the Italian charts and gave him fifth place in the Eurovision Song Contest the same year.

Four years later, partnered with the Italian female star Iva Zanicchi, Solo achieved his third Sanremo triumph with Zingara.

Other 60s hits included Quello sbagliato,Cristina and La Casa del Signore, the Italian version of Elvis Presley’s Crying In The Chapel, his 1966 Sanremo entry Questa volta, which he sung with English group The Yardbirds,  Per far piangere un uomo, an Italian cover of the Tom Jones song, To Make A Big Man Cry, and an Italian cover of Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco.

In all, Solo participated in 12 Sanremo Festivals between 1964 and 2003 and in a recording career spanning six decades has made more than 40 singles and in excess of 30 albums.  His total record sales have been conservatively estimated at more than five million and he still performs today, well into his 70s.

Bobby Solo on stage in 2018
The son of an airline executive from Friuli and an Istrian mother, Solo acquired his love for music, especially American country and rock and roll, from his brother-in-law, an American serviceman who had married his sister and lived in Verona.

Blessed with a good voice, he taught himself to play the guitar and after watching Elvis Presley in the film Jailhouse Rock he was inspired to begin writing songs in his teens. After his father had been relocated to Linate airport in Milan, he earned an audition with the Milan company Dischi Recordi, who signed him up and would produce all his records until the early 1970s.

Solo acquired his stage name at around the same time, and there is a story - perhaps apocryphal - that he became Bobby Solo by accident, the intention having been that he would perform simply as Bobby. According to the story,  the secretary who took down the record label details for his first single mistook the instruction that he would be known as "solo Bobby" (only Bobby) and wrote down his name as Bobby Solo.

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan
Travel tip:

Dischi Recordi, which operated from 1958 until the company was sold in 1994, had its headquarters right in the heart of Milan in Via Giovanni Berchet, a stone's throw from the Duomo and across Via Ugo Foscolo from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the magnificent 1861 shopping arcade, with its central dome and arching glass and cast iron roof, which is the oldest shopping mall  in the world still in use and has become a Milan landmark.  The Palazzo Dischi is now the home of upmarket sports car manufacturer Ferrari's flagship merchandise store.

Milan hotels by

The harbour at Sanremo in Liguria
The harbour at Sanremo in Liguria
Travel tip:

Sanremo in Liguria, the Italian Riviera resort that has been home to the Sanremo Festival since 1951, expanded rapidly in the mid-18th century, when the phenomenon of tourism began to take hold, albeit primarily among the wealthy. Several grand hotels were established and the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia was among the European royals who took holidays there. The Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel made it his permanent home.