Domenico Modugno

Domenico Modugno
Background information
Born (1928-01-09)9 January 1928
Polignano a Mare, Apulia, Italy
Died 6 August 1994(1994-08-06) (aged 66)
Lampedusa, Sicily, Italy
Genres Pop, Folk, Neapolitan song
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, actor, film director, film producer, politician
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Years active 1953–1993
Labels RCA, Fonit Cetra, Curci, Carosello, Panarecord, Decca, United Artists, Jubilee
The Honourable
Domenico Modugno
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
2 July 1987  18 April 1990
Constituency Turin
Member of the Senate of the Republic
In office
18 April 1990  22 April 1992
Constituency Rome IV
Personal details
Nationality Italian
Political party Radical Party
Spouse(s) Franca Gandolfi (1955–1994; his death)
Children Marcello Modugno
Marco Modugno
Massimo Modugno
(from his wife)
Fabio Camilli (from Maurizia Calì)
Profession artist, singer
Religion Roman Catholic

Domenico Modugno (Italian pronunciation: [doˈmeːniko moˈduɲɲo]; 9 January 1928 – 6 August 1994) was an Italian singer, songwriter, actor, guitarist, and later in life, a member of the Italian Parliament. He is known for his 1958 international hit song "Nel blu dipinto di blu". He is considered the first Italian cantautore.[1]

Early life

The youngest of four children, Modugno was born at Polignano a Mare, in the province of Bari (Apulia), on 9 January 1928.[2] His father, Vito Cosimo Modugno,[3] was a municipal police commander,[2] while his mother, Pasqua Lorusso,[3] was a housewife.[2]

At the age of 9, his family moved to San Pietro Vernotico, in the Province of Brindisi,[4] where his father was transferred for a new job position.[5] Here Domenico attended primary school and learned San Pietro Vernotico's dialect, which belongs to the linguistic area of Lecce's dialect, similar to Sicilian. He attended secondary school in Lecce.[1]

From a young age he wanted to become an actor and in 1951, after his military service, he enrolled in an acting school.


While still studying, he had a role in a cinematographic version of Filumena Marturano by Eduardo De Filippo as well as some other films.[1] In 1957, his song "Lazzarella," sung by Aurelio Fierro, came second in the Festival della Canzone Napoletana, bringing him his first taste of popularity.[1] In 1958, Modugno took part in Antonio Aniante's comedy La Rosa di Zolfo at the Festival della Prosa in Venice. Also in 1958, he discovered the Italian comedy duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, became their manager and got them into a long running film career.[6] The turning point of his career came in that year, when he also participated in the Sanremo Music Festival, presenting, together with Johnny Dorelli, the song "Nel blu dipinto di blu." Co-authored by Modugno and Franco Migliacci, the song won the contest and became an enormous success worldwide, including the United States. It received two Grammy Awards[7] with sales above 22 million copies, and represented Italy in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest, where it came in third.[1]

Modugno used the money gained with "Nel blu dipinto di blu" to purchase a Ferrari, however, his car was totaled in an accident, which included his fenders being smashed. This was mentioned in the Alan Sherman song "That is why America's a nice Italian Name."

In 1959, Modugno won the Sanremo Music Festival for the second time in a row, with "Piove" (also known as "Ciao, ciao bambina"), and received second place in 1960 with "Libero." This was a successful period of time for Modugno who again represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest of 1959. Later his hit song "Io" was sung by Elvis Presley in English with the title "Ask Me."[1]

In 1962, Modugno won the Sanremo Music Festival a third time with "Addio..., addio...." Four years later, he again represented Italy at Eurovision with "Dio, come ti amo." Sergio Franchi recorded it in Italian (titled "Oh How Much I Love You (Dio, come ti amo!)) on his 1967 RCA Victor album, From Sergio-with Love. Jack Jones recorded it in English for his 1967 album, Our Song, under the title "Oh How Much I Love You."[1]

Modugno was an actor in 44 movies (such as Appuntamento a Ischia), and was a film producer of two (Tutto è musica of 1963 was his own biographical production).[1]

In the 1970, Modugno focused on more classic music genres and profiles, as a singer and as a musician, adapting poetry, acting on television and in lead singing roles of modern operas.[1]

Final years

In 1984, he suffered a severe stroke and remained partially paralyzed. He had to abandon his artistic career and devote himself to rehab.[1]

From 1986, he worked for the rights of disabled people, and in June 1987, he was elected congressman for Turin in Italian Parliament, in the ranks of the Radical Party, a liberal-social political group.[1] In the past he had supported the campaigns of the Italian Socialist Party and one for divorce, in addition to criticizing the human rights' violation by the regime of Augusto Pinochet, that cost him a denial of entry in Chile, where he had been scheduled to hold a concert.[1] In this last stage of his life, instead, he was very active in social issues, fighting against inhuman conditions of patients in the Agrigento psychiatric hospital.[1]

Modugno returned on the music scene, definitively (he already held a concert for former inmates of Agrigento's mental asylum, in 1989), in 1992-1993, his last song was Delfini (Dolphins), in 1993 with his son, Massimo.[1]

On August 6, 1994, Modugno died at the age of 66, from a heart attack, on the island of Lampedusa, Sicily, while he was in his home by the sea.[1]


Domenico Modugno "Nel blu dipinto di blu" (1958)
"Nel blu dipinto di blu" was Modugno's signature song.

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Sanremo Festival

Domenico Modugno at the Eurovision Song Contest 1958, singing "Nel blu dipinto di blu"

Modugno was the winner four times (in 1958, 1959, 1962 and 1966).


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 (Italian)Domenico Modugno: biography
  2. 1 2 3 "Artisti - Domenico Modugno" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 11 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 Raffaele Lorusso (9 January 2002). "Polignano & Mister Volare storia di un amore impossibile". la Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  4. Alberto Selvaggi (7 August 1995). "Controfesta per Modugno nel paese che lo adottò". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  5. Antonella Gaeta (10 January 2002). "Era orgoglioso delle sue radici". la Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  6. Vivarelli, Nick (2004-11-02). "Variety Reviews - How We Got the Italian Cinema Into Trouble: Franco & Ciccio's Real Story - Film Reviews - Venice - Review by Nick Vivarelli". Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  7. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 68. CN 5585.
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