Born: Jan 6, 1938 in Milan, Italy
Styles: Italian Pop, Italy, Vocal Pop, Worldbeat
Instruments: Vocals, Guitar (Rhythm)
With more than 70 million records sold, Adriano Celentano is a true superstar of Italian pop music. During his prolific career, which spans for more than 40 years, he essayed virtually every genre and style, from rock & roll to rap, not mentioning his successful ventures into film and television. Such an outstanding artistic longevity and popularity are due, to a great extent, to his constant willingness to take risks, to experiment, and to explore new areas.
His first public success was associated with his participation in the first Italian Rock 'n' Roll Festival in his native Milan in 1957. The song "Ciao Ti Dirт" that he performed with the Rock Boys became an immediate success. Three days later he signed with the record label Saar. His 1959 song "Il Tuo Bacio и Come un Rock" topped Italian hit-parade, and since then Celentano went on to produce at least one hit single every year. By 1960 he was already a recognizable face, and Federico Fellini invited him to make a brief appearance as a rock 'n' roll singer in La Dolce Vita (Celentano made his first film appearance in I Frenetici two years earlier.)
In 1961 he participated for the first time in the Sanremo festival, the biggest annual showcase for Italian pop music. His "Ventiquattromila Baci" won only a second prize but later sold a million copies and topped Italian charts. Such a disparity caused controversy and the Sanremo festival even became subject to a Parlamentary hearing. The same year Celentano left Saar and founded his own label Clan Celentano, in order to be able to produce his own records. "Stai Lontana da Me," released in May of 1962, was the first record by the Clan. It sold 1,300,000 copies and became No. 1 in Italy. In October Celentano again hit the charts with "Pregherт," an Italian version of Ben E. King 's "Stand by Me." His 1965 album Non Mi Dir hit No. 1 in Italy, as did the singles "Sono un Simpatico" and "La Festa." In 1966 he returned to the Sanremo festival with the ecologically-themed "Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck." Though the song didn't win anything, it sold 1,500,000 copies and was translated into many languages. In 1968 Celentano's "Canzone" (in duet with Milva ) was only the third at Sanremo but again No. 1 in the national hit-parade. The same year he scored an even bigger success with "Azzurro." The album Adriano Rock, released at the end of the year, topped the LP charts. The next year Frank Sinatra invited Celentano to the United States, but the latter declined the offer because of his fear of flying. In 1970 he finally won at Sanremo with "Chi Non Lavora, Non Fa l'Amore" (in duet with his wife Claudia Mori ). His 1972 hit "Prisencolinensinanciusol" is now considered by some as a clear antecedent of rap music. The song hit No. 1 in France, figured prominently in hit-parades around Europe, and even entered American charts.
With the 1974 Yuppi-du Celentano debuted as a film director. He also wrote, produced and starred in it. The original soundtrack, also composed by Celentano, went to No.1 on the charts as did the title song. Since 1975 he started to work more frequently in film, mostly in comedies, of which Il Bisbetico Domato (1980) and Innamorato Pazzo (1981) became megahits in Italy and successfully played in some other European countries.
In 1976 he hit Italian charts with Svalutation which also topped French and German hit-parades. The album Soli (1978), one of his biggest successes, stayed in the Italian hit-parade for 58 weeks and proved to be popular abroad. In 1979 Celentano started a concert tour, gathering full stadiums across the country. The tour was captured on the live album Me Live!. The album Un Po' Artista un Po' No (1980) again was a hit as was the single "Il Tempo Se Ne Va." The ecologically-aware 1982 album Uh...Uh... featured two popular songs from his comedy Bingo Bongo, where the singer played an ape man brought to a big city. In 1984 Celentano recorded the album I Miei Americani which was followed by I Miei Americani...2 and contained his covers of the great classics by the Beatles, Ray Charles and the Platters, among others. The albums sold extremely well and again topped hit-parades.
In 1985 Celentano wrote, directed and scored the film Joan Lui, his most ambitious project, an allegorical fable about the Second Coming of Christ. The film flopped both critically and commercially, and the singer lost interest for cinema. In 1987 he ventured into television with a weekly show named Fantastico. He proved to be a very successful as a TV host, as nobody could remain indifferent to his witty and provocative speeches. On the wave of this success he released the album La Pubblica Ottusitа, that went to No. 1 in Italy. In 1991 he released another album, Il Re Degli Ignoranti, as well a book by the same title. He entered 1992 with Superbest, a collection of his eighteen greatest hits and launched a new TV show, Svalutation, that since became famous for its unpredictability and improvisation.
In late 1994 Celentano went on a European tour. Though Italian press deemed it unsuccessful, the singer proved to be still popular abroad. The 1996 Arrivano Gli Uomini was his first and last album distributed by BMG Records. Later he accepted a proposition from RTI Music, which was more in the line with the goals of his own label, the Clan Celentano, to promote Italian music and artists. By now, the Clan remains the only musical label in Italy, which is completely Italian-owned.
- Yuri German (All Music Guide)