Adriano Celentano Biography
Adriano Celentano Biography
by Mariuccia Ciotta
“What seems to be missing is a utopian vision of life. Sometimes I say things that seem impossible, but many things that seemed impossible, became possible.
If you lose the utopia in your life, the world will only get worse.
Adriano Celentano is an international artist who has changed the visual language of Italian music and spread it beyond its frontiers. His story cannot be confined locally, nor is strictly linked to any particular period. Insubordinate to fashions, Celentano has never been a trend His style of the rebellious singer, who doesn’t follow the rules of the record industry, has made him an independent artist since 1962, when he founded Il Clan, his own label.
His brilliant career as a singer, composer, actor, director, producer and author of TV programmes has always been characterised by his independent thoughts and experiments. His productions have won public acclaim worldwide, with fans from far countries and variegated cultures.
Celentano’s vocation as a counter artist was evident from the start. Son of Apulian immigrants, he was born in the Milanese suburbs, in the famous via Gluck that will later turn into the symbol of “unsustainable development”. Building speculation, environmental protection and social injustice have since become his favourite themes, while the song Il ragazzo della via Gluck, translated in 18 languages, sold millions of copies.
When Adriano burst into the Italian music scene he started a revolution. His unconventional personality thrilled the young audiences, his voice exalted unexplored sonorities, wiping out the era of melodious Italian songs. He became an instigator to freedom and, being an irregular by vocation, he gave new emotions to a demanding public that had in mind different rhythms and dreams. In the song Il tuo bacio è come un rock he mixed overseas sounds with half poetic-half fool cabaret irony, and ballad sounds with the black vibrations of Bill Haley, his music first love.
Adriano is the creator of a broken, syncopated language that he alternates with a crooner style, and he performss his songs with a Brechtian detachment to the text which makes him inimitable. In addition to his musical revolution, he has staged an electrified, “epileptic” body unleashing the genuine force of rock‘n’roll, which he used to contrast the city expansion in areas where “there used to be grass”.
His artistic curiosity sets him apart from every cliché and though he is not totally indifferent to the sounds from Africa and Latin America, Adriano remains unique. He has experienced a constant metamorphosis and has always been an “inconvenient” protagonist of the Italian cultural scene. His past songs, like Il tuo bacio è come un rock, have dominated the hit parade, which was followed by very popular hits like 24.000 baci, Azzurro, Una carezza in un pugno and Svalutation, but also his most recent cds Io non so parlar d’amore (1999), Esco di rado e parlo ancora meno (2000), Per sempre (2002), C’è sempre un motivo (2004), Dormi amore, la situazione non è buona (2007) have reached the top of the charts of the third millenium generations and sold millions of copies.
Adriano Celentano swas a symbol of a changing Italy; for this reason director Federico Fellini asked him to play himself in La dolce vita, Emir Kusturica, a famous filmmaker, dedicated to him Ti ricordi di Dolly Bell? and Pier Paolo Pasolini, fascinated by the via Gluck boy, his irreducible spirit and authenticity, wanted him to play himself in a film based on the famous song. Pasolini was not the only one who saw in Adriano Celentano the representative of a poetic and political universe, tied into the territory and putting up a resistance to the wild urbanization of the economic boom. Ermanno Olmi too, in his debut film Il tempo si è fermato, turned to him and his voice to convey the changes that were taking place in an industrialised Italy.
The “urchin of the suburbs”, the “wild but likeable rebel who sings like an American” had the right tonality to point to the future, and replace the conventional repertory with his disruptive and utopian rock.
Adriano has focused on the contradictions of social development, the dangers at the workplace, the new poverty, environmental issues and overbuilding with the joyful strength of the outsider and he keeps on “shocking” the public with his strange combination of TV shows and denunciation of daily horrors.
From the beginning of his career, Celentano has directed by using a mix of images and sound. He created a new concept of space for the stage, by inhabiting and transforming it before turning it into a television set and creating epic programs, which have become memorable for the pauses and silences he inserts in his monologues, which revolutionized the paceprograms. He has performed in over 45 movies, from comedies and period films, with ground breaking directors of the likes of: Pietro Germi, Sergio Corbucci, Alberto Lattuada, Dario Argento, Pasquale Festa Campanile and the profits those films made are still unsurpassed. He was also the director of four films which share an uncommon creativity in sounds and image. Super rapina a Milano (’65, with Piero Vivarelli), Yuppi Du (1975), Geppo il folle (1978), Joan Lui (1985). At first, the films were labelled “unintelligible” by most critics who preferred to keep them at a distance, except for Yuppi Du, which was so overwhelming and modern that it seduces everyone.
However, all these movies have been revaluated and paved the way to new forms of television language. Celentano’s TV shows are laboratories of inventions and have revolutionised the variety genre and how television is shot. Themes such as water shortage, starvation, the death penalty, inequality and hunting are spaced out by music jam sessions and images from the south of the world, while he ferociously attacks reality shows set in an unknown planet made of deserts and skyscrapers.
His shows have had over 15 million viewers and article filled newspapers front pages. Fantastico 8, Svalutation, Francamente me ne infischio, 125 milioni di cazzate, Rockpolitik have thus become waypoints for environment-friendly TV programmes.
They are “open sets” where a single vision of reality and the authoritarian viewpoint of the camera are rejected. Incitement to freedom, rebellion against wrongs and the idea that anything can be achieved is what Adriano always bring on stage. He is and will always be an insuperable, rule-breaking visionary.