Pino Daniele was an Italian singer, songwriter and guitarist whose fusion of blues, jazz, rock and traditional Neapolitan music was heavily inspired by both the beauty and ugliness of his native Naples. So identified with Naples was he that when his death was announced the city's mayor ordered flags to be flown at half-mast.
He experimented endlessly with blues and jazz, and his style was in constant evolution. His voice – bordering on hoarse, alternately soaring or soft – was a distinctive vehicle for songs that often mixed the Neapolitan dialect with Italian, and sometimes English.
Born in 1955, Giuseppe Daniele grew up in a city celebrated for song: his own first piece was entitled "Terra Mia" ("My Land"). One signature song, riffing on the dialect word for Naples, was "Napule E", a loving tribute to the city's fascinating contradictions. Its opening lyrics, in Neapolitan, speak of the city's thousand colours and thousand fears.
In his 1980 hit album Nero a meta (Half-black), Daniele blended the blues with popular Neapolitan songs. Folding jazz into his work, he performed with such luminaries as Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea; like his chaotic hometown he absorbed countless influences.
He wrote the lyrics and music, including the hit "Quando" ("When"), for three films by his fellow-Neapolitan, the actor-director-comic Massimo Troisi. His songs were much covered, including "Alleria" by the former Communard Sarah Jane Morris, on her 2011 album Cello Songs, and "Quanno chiove" ("It's Raining") by Randy Crawford on Through the Eyes of Love. Daniele, who had a history of heart trouble, died in a Rome hospital.
Giuseppe "Pino" Daniele, singer, songwriter and guitarist: born Naples 19 March 1955; died Rome 4 January 2015.
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