- Italian singer Toto Cutugno (“L’Italiano”) has passed away.
- The “Liitaliano” singer died on Tuesday at the age of 80 after a long illness in Milan, his business management confirmed at its request.
- Several Italian media outlets have already reported on this.
In his songs he used typical Italian clichés – and he was always proud of them. The “real Italian” made his way into the hearts of his fans with the shallow pop hits “L’Italiano” and “Insieme 1992”.
Cutugno died in the afternoon after a long illness at the San Raffaele clinic in Milan. Cutugno celebrated his 80th birthday only in July. For a long time he was one of the leading stars in Italy and delighted the audience of millions.
Outside Italy, Cutugno is primarily associated with the classic Italian song “L’Italiano”, which was popular there under the phrase “Lasciatemi cantare” (Let me sing). One of his greatest successes is winning the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Zagreb with the song “Insieme 1992”. With 100 million albums sold, Cutugno is one of the most successful singers in Italy.
Regular guest at the Sanremo Festival
He participated in the legendary Sanremo Festival 15 times as an interpreter – and won the competition once: in 1980 with the song “Solo noi” (Only Us). 15 other times he composed songs for the participants.
In 1943 Salvatore Cutugno, his real name, was born in the small Tuscan community of Fosdinovo, the son of two Sicilians. He and his family ended up in La Spezia, in Liguria. He was interested in music early on: he learned the drums and accordion.
In the early 1950s, his father took him to rehearsal with La Spezia. It happened instantly to a nine year old boy. He learned the drums and the accordion. He later recalled how his father would take him to music lessons on his Vespa – Cutugno Senior at the wheel and Cutugno Junior in the back with the accordion on his back. As a young man he sang in a band.
No cliche in Italy has remained the same
His song “L’Italiano” in particular is still associated with Italy today. No typical Italian cliché has remained unchanged – from the Fiat 600 to the menthol shaving cream to the blue pinstripe suit – but that is exactly why he has brought Italia closer to his many fans. He also hit the right note with his European anthem “Insieme 1992” at ESC 1990.
Successful songwriter and composer
Cutugno had already established himself as a successful songwriter and composer in the 1970s: songs for such stars as Mireille Matteo (“Ciao bambino, sorry”), Dalida (“Laissez moi danser”), Gerard Lenormann (“Voici les clés”) and Adriano Celentano (” Il tempo se ne va”) came from him. He also wrote a song for American singer Ray Charles – “Good Love Gone Bad” sung by “The High Priest of Soul” comes from the pen of Cotogno. He is considered a hit machine because of the songs he wrote for the artists.
After the huge success of his two highest numbers, Cutugno became quieter. In old age, health problems plagued him. In 2007, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he managed to recover. In the last years of his life Cutugno withdrew almost entirely from the public eye.
Although music critics have never considered him a venerable performer, many see him and his music as a true Italian cultural asset. The “real Italian” will also delight posterity.
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