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 dir˛ 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 Ŕ 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.)
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 Pregher˛, 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.
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.
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.
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 ottusitÓ, 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.
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.
German, All-Music Guide