Little Tony: Rock'n'roll singer known as 'the Italian Elvis'
Thursday 13 June 2013
Described as "the Italian Elvis", Little Tony, who died on 27 May at the age of 72, was a rock'n'roll pioneer whose rebel look and interpretation of the rock'n'roll repertoire shook up his home country in the late 1950s, writes Pierre Perrone. But his fame also spread across Europe, including France and the UK, where he scored a Top 20 hit with "Too Good" in 1960.
Born Antonio Ciacci in Tivoli, he was actually Sammarinese because neither his parents, nor he ever applied for Italian citizenship. Naming himself after Little Richard, he teamed up with his brothers Alberto and Enrico to form Little Tony and his Brothers when he was 16 in 1957.
They signed to Durium Records and began issuing Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent covers. While in London, the Italian singer Marino Marini of "Volare" fame told Jack Good that, in his opinion, Little Tony was better than Cliff Richard, prompting the Oh Boy! producer to travel to Rome and book him for his next TV show Boy Meets Girls in September 1959.
Decca released "I Can't Help It" b/w "Arrivederci Baby" and another single pairing "Hey Little Girl" and "Hippy Hippy Shake", all recorded in Italy, but Little Tony fared better when, under the aegis of Good in London, he cut the ballad of teenage heartbreak "Too Good", composed by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. Yet despite further appearances on British TV, including on Wham!, another Good show, he failed to repeat its success.
Thereafter he devoted most of his time to the Italian market, singing the controversial "24 Mila Baci" – "24,000 kisses" – a duet with Adriano Celentano at the Sanremo Music Festival in 1961, and topping the charts in 1962 with the appropriate "Il Ragazzo Col Ciuffo" – "the kid with the quiff". In 1967 he returned to No 1 with the million-selling "Cuore Matto, Matto Da Legare" – "Crazy Heart" – the title track of one of several musicarelli films built around his engaging persona.
Further channeling Presley, he wore gaudy outfits and recorded the Tony Canta Elvis album in 1975. He remained a mainstay of Italian TV, crooning the melodramatic "Riderà" or the tear-jerking "Lacrime" on variety show spectaculars like Canzonissima and Cantagiro and singing "Profumo Di Mare" – "the smell of the sea" – the theme tune to the Italian version of The Love Boat. Despite suffering a heart attack while performing in Ottawa in 2006, he resumed his career and made his last album, fittingly entitled Non Finisce Qui (This Is Not The End) in 2008. He died of lung cancer in Rome.
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...