His first success came with winning the Castrocaro festival, a festival only open to new-comers on the Italian music scene, in 1981. Zucchero also appeared at the Sanremo festival for the first time in this period, with “Una notte che vola via” in Â´81 and “Nuvola” in Â´82. In Â´83 his first LP was released: Un po” di Zucchero but failed to attract much attention.
Disillusioned by this lack of success, Zucchero considered quitting but, partly because the success Paul Young had with his first LP No Parlez, decided to give it another go and left for San Fransisco to meet up with his friend and guitarist Corrado Rustici, who had played with stars like Aretha Franklin, Clarence Clemons, Sister Sledge and Herbie Hancock. Together with Rustici and bassist Randy Jackson Zucchero checklisted Zucchero and the Randy Jackson Band and participated once again in the Sanremo festival. Although “Donne” ended up second to last in the competition it was picked up by the Italian audience and Zucchero scored his first hit.
With the 1986 album Rispetto, again with the Randy Jackson band, Zucchero sold over 250 000 albums and produced both an artistic and commercial success with classic songs like “Come il sole allÂ´improviso” (co-written with legendary Italian singer Gino Paoli), the title track, Rispetto and “Canzone Triste”. The album was classified as number six of the Italian album chart of 1986.
With the 1987 album BlueÂ´s Zucchero broke all existing records ever on Italian album sales outselling not only Italian stars like Vasco Rossi but also the other big Â´87 album “Whitney Houston”. BlueÂ´s is a fine example of ZuccheroÂ´s mixture of pop, soul and blues with songs like “Con le mani”, with the legendary Memphis Horns, the beautiful “Dunne Mosse”, “Pippo” and the incredible “Solo una sana consapevole libidine salva il giovane dallo stress e dallÂ´azione Cattolica” (literally: Only a strong and self-conscious libido can save the youth from stress and the Catholic Party). During the sold out stadium BlueÂ´s tour Zucchero was accompanied on stage by a big band including Corrado Rustici, Luciano Luisi and the amazing Lisa “sister” Hunt. During several shows Joe Cocker was a special guest singing “With a little help from my friends” with Zucchero.
Snackbar Budapest, the 1988 soundtrack to the Italian movie by Tinto Brass, was recorded with David Sanscious, an original E Street Band member and who was also existing on BlueÂ´s. The album included an instrumental version of “Dune Mosse” (later included on the cd version of BlueÂ´s, several instrumental songs and Lisa HuntÂ´s debut as a solo singer on “Something Strong”. br>
Later that year legendary jazz musician Miles Davis, who heard the song on the radio while touring in Italy, asked Zucchero to record a special version of “Dune Mosse” with him in New York. This version is yet to be released although they did perform it live several times.
The 1989 album Oro incenso e birra proved to be even more successful than BlueÂ´s with the absolute top hits “Diavolo in me”, “Overdose (dÂ´amore” (featuring the legendary blues singer Rufus Thomas), “Diamante” (with lyrics written by Francesco De Gregori, ItalyÂ´s version of Bob Dylan), “Madre Dolcissima (Mama)” and the sexy “Il mare”. Eric Clapton appeared, after being dragged to a Zucchero show in Sicily by a mutual Clapton and Zucchero fan, on “Wonderful World” and Ennio Morricone wrote the music to and directed the orchestra on “Libera lÂ´amore” the closing track of the LP. Stevie Ray Vaughn recorded a guitar solo for “Madre Dolcissima” but it was never released. During the 1989 tour Zucchero paired up with Eddie Floyd and Solomon Burke, the king of soul, during the Pistoia Blues Festival, Miles Davis during a show in Rimmini, Ray Charles and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Eric Clapton and Paul Young during the last gig of the tour in Rome.
In 1990 a special version of Oro incenso e birra with English lyrics by Tim Robbins printed next to the Italian lines was released in the UK and Zucchero appeared as the support act to Clapton’s 1990 European tour. The album Zucchero, which featured a selection of ZuccheroÂ´s earlier songs including some English versions, produced the hit “Senza una Donna” in duet with Paul Young, “Wonderful World” and “Diamante”. In December Zucchero played two gigs, of which one was broadcast live on Italian TV, in the Kremlin in Russia with special guests Toni Childs and Randy Crawford. The concert was later released as the live album Live at the Kremlin.
In 1991 Zucchero appeared at the Freddy Mercury Tribute in Wembley Stadium singing “Las Parablas De Amor” (Queen guitarist Brian May flew to Italy to convince Zucchero to join the line up with stars) and wrote the Italian lyrics to StingÂ´s “Mad About You” (“Muoio per te”, literally I die for you).
Because of back problems and the divorce of his first wife Zucchero became depressed and decided to leave the music business for a while and travel around. The result is Miserere, an album in which Zucchero fights his inner demons. The album was produced, as always, by Corrado Rustici and featured amongst others former Santana drummer Michael Shrieve and later to be famous Italian singer Giorgia in the band. Michael Kamen was in charge of the orchestra on the title track. Elvis Costello wrote the lyrics to “Miss Mary”. Originally Zucchero asked Costello to write a song about a transvestite but something went wrong in the translation and instead Costello wrote an amazing song about a man falling in love with a statue of the virgin Mary. Maestro Luciano Pavarotti appeared on the title track, co-written with U2Â´s Bono. During auditions for a demo to send to Pavarotti a blind lawyer who worked as a piano player in a bar in Bologna was identified by Zucchero and Pavarotti. The singer joined Zucchero on tour to sing Miserere live with him. Andrea Bocelli later turned into one of the best selling opera and pop singers in the world.
With Miserere the annual Pavarotti and Friends concerts in Modena, Italy started. During the first concert Zucchero played “Miserere” with Pavarotti, “LÂ´Urlo” and “Muoio per te” with Sting. Other guests present were Brian May, Bob Geldof and Suzanne Vega.
In Â´94 Zucchero recorded Diamante a cd for the South-American market with Spanish lyrics by Argentinian superstar Fito Paez. A six week South-American tour was followed by an appereance as the only European star at the 1994 Woodstock concert. After the Woodstock concert Zucchero flew to LA to start working on his new album. During the recording sessions Zucchero was invited by Dan Akroyd to appear at a special remembrance concert for John Belushi in the House Of Blues and there, together with Akroyd, James Belushi, John Goodman and the Blues Brothers band Zucchero played “Diavolo in me” and “You are so beautiful”.
The 1995 album Spirito DiVino, that included the smash European hits “Il Volo”, “Papa perchĂ©” and “X colpa di chi”, is one of ZuccheroÂ´s most successful up to date: selling over 3 million copies in Europe alone and ending up on the first place in the Italian year charts the album proved a enormous commercial success. On the album Zucchero adds a certain New Orleans blues truly feeling to his music (especially on songs like “Voodoo Voodoo”) and is accompanied by wonderful musicians like Corrado Rustici, Luciano Luisi, David Sancious, Jeff Beck (on “Papa PerchĂ©?”), Sheila E. (on “Alleluja”, written by Italian rapper Jovanotti) and former Chuck Berry guitarist Johnny Johnson.
During the highly successful Spirito DiVino-tour, 1 420 000 visitors to 145 shows throughout Europe, Zucchero was accompanied for the first time on stage by, now regular tour guitarist, Mario Schiliro. Luciano Luisi, Polo Jones, saxplayer James Thompson and Lisa Hunt returned. During the tour Zucchero performed with Brian May (on a very bluesy “Madre Dolcissima”) in Bologna, with Paul Young in Verona and with Francesco De Gregori in Rome. A special version of Spirito DiVino, including a bonus cd with a live version of the Zucchero and the Randy Jackson band song “Un piccolo aiuto” was released to raise money for the Fondazione Mondiale Ricerca e Prevenzione AIDS. During the Pavarotti and Friends concert Zucchero sang “X colpa di chi?” and “Cosi Celeste” in duet with Pavarotti.
The compilation The Best of Zucchero “sugar” FornaciariÂ´s greatest hits was released in 1996 shooting into all European charts and up to the number one position in France and Italy. The cd, released in an Italian and an English version, contained 13 of ZuccheroÂ´s greatest hits (excluding the Miserere period) and three new songs including the hitsingle “Menta e rosmarino” (I feel so lonely tonight). During the sold out tour Zucchero sang with Buddy Guy in Milan (several songs including blues classics like “Before you accuse me”) and played “My Love” (the English version of “Il Volo”) and “Un piccolo aiuto” (together with Eric Clapton) during the Â´96 Pavarotti and Friends show. The Best of-tour also brought Zucchero to the US for the first time playing to sold out clubs in New York and LA.
In 1997 a special version of The best ofâ€¦ was released including a remake of VerdiÂ´s “Va, Pensiero” (first sung during Sting’s Rainforest Foundation show in New York with amongst others Elton John present too) and a special French version included a duet with French actor Gerard Depardieu and French singer Johnny Halliday. On B.B. KingÂ´s duetalbum “Deuces Wild” Zucchero seems singing “Let the good times roll” with the bluesgod. During the Â´98 version of Pavarotti and Friends Zucchero sang “Menta e rosmarino” and “Va, Pensiero” (with Pavarotti) and in early 1998 Zucchero was a special guest during a Grammy ceremony for Luciano Pavarotti performing with Aretha Franklin.
On the 1998 album Bluesugar Zucchero moved from Spirito DiVinoÂ´s New Orleans feeling to a more English rock flavor. The cd was produced by Corrado Rustici and the band included Santana bassist Benny Rietveld and bluesharp player Mark Feltham. Steve Winwood played Hammond on two songs and U2Â´s Bono wrote the lyrics to the English version of “Blu” (well translated as “Blue”). The cd went on to sell over 1 million copies in several months.
During the 1999 Bluesugar tour Zucchero played with Noa, Cheb Mami, I Muvvrini and Paul Young in Paris, The Chieftans in Verona and opened for the Rolling Stones and appeared at the German Rock im Park and Rock am Ring. During the Â´99 edition of Pavarotti and Friends Zucchero played “You make me feel loved” and an amazing version of the BlueÂ´s song “Hey Man” with blueslegend B.B. King. Overdose dÂ´amore the ballads a special compilation with some of ZuccheroÂ´s slower songs like “Cosi Celeste”, “Il Volo”, “Hai scelto” me and “Va, Pensiero” and including the duets “Muoio per te” with Sting, “Blue” with Sheryl Crow and “Miserere” with Pavarotti, was released for the American market. During the American part of the tour Zucchero also took part in the Netaid festival playing “Il Volo” and “One” with Bono. The Bluesugar tour was ended with a highly successful version of The Night Of The Proms, a yearly tour of “pop and opera” through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, with Status Quo and Zucchero headlining. ZuccheroÂ´s performance was praised by both press and public singing “Hai scelto me”, “Il Volo”, “Madre Dolcissima”, “X colpa di chi”, “Senza una donna” with John Miles and “Miserere” with opera singer Natalia Choquette. The Bluesugar tour ended with a free open air show in Milan on New Years Eve.
In 2000 Zucchero appeared at a tribute show for deceased Italian singer Fabrizio De Andre, playing “Ho visto Nina volare”, the 2000 edition of Pavarotti and Friends (playing “Wonderful World” and the classic “EverybodyÂ´s Talking”) and recorded with German metalband Scorpions (“Send me an angel”). For the 2001 edition of the Sanremo festival Zucchero wrote both the winning song (“Luce (tramonti a nord est)” by Elisa) and the runner-up (“Di sole e dÂ´azzuro” by Giorgia who played with Zucchero during the 2000 edition of the Sugar Night and Day in Forte Dei Marmi).
In August 2001 the first single of the Shake album, “Baila (sexy thing)” was released ending up on the top position of the Italian and Swiss single charts and scoring in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Shake, produced by Corrado Rustici, ended up being one of the fastest selling Zucchero albums ever (2 million in Europe in 10 months). On the album bluesgod John Lee Hooker makes his last appearance in the music scene before his death (june that year) on the beautiful ballad “Ali DÂ´Oro”. Blues guitarist Roy Rogers appeared on “Porca LÂ´Oca” and the amazing singer Chance does vocals on “Baila” and “Ahum”.
In February Zucchero started his Shake tour in Zurich, Switzerland with Paul Young as a guest. The sold out tour later went through Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. A special tour edition of Shake, with slightly remixed Shake songs and a bonus album with songs recorded during an appearance on Dutch radioshow Denk aan Henk (“Il Volo”, “Senza una Donna”, “Baila” and “Ahum) was released. During the 2002 Pavarotti and Friends show Zucchero sang “Miserere” with Pavarotti and Bocelli and “Baila/ Sento le campane”. In August Zucchero was one of the artists (others there were Joe Cocker and Bryan Adams) at the TW Classics show in Belgium and in November Zucchero won a special honorary Italian Music Award. Zucchero re-recorded Bryan Adams soundtrack for the Italian version of the movie Spirit but the soundtrack was not released on cd.
In 2003 Zucchero recorded a new song with Indonesian singer Anggun for a special project cd called GaĂŻa. The song, World, was released as a promo single in Italy. With Mexican superband ManĂˇ Zucchero recorded “Eres mi religion” (for a special version of ManĂˇÂ´s Revolucion de Amor album) and “Baila” (for a South-American version of Shake). During the 2003 version of Pavarotti and Friends Zucchero sang “Cosi Celeste” with Pavarotti, “Eres mi relgion” with ManĂˇ, accompanied Bono and Pavarotti on piano during “Miserere” and sang “We are the champions” with Queen (a.k.a. Brian May and Roger Taylor). In autumn 2003 Zucchero toured through Canada with his band and performed with ManĂˇ during several dates of their tour. In november Zucchero was one of the artists performing during the 46664 concert in Capetown, South Africa. He performed “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” with Roger Taylor, Brian May and Sharon Corr and sang “I want it all” during the Queen medley.
In may 2004 Zucchero released Zu & Co a duetalbum featuring artists like Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Dolores O Riordan, Solomon Burke, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Macy Gray and Jeff Beck. The first singles were the only (completely) new songs “Il Grande Baboomba” (with Mousse T) and “Everybody’s got to learn sometime” (with Vanessa Carlton and Bond member Haylie Ecker). Zucchero will tour through Europe this summer.
|Date of Birth||September 25, 1955|
|Place of Birth||Roncocesi, Reggio Emilia, Italy|