Lucio Dalla

Lucio Dalla

Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla
Born (1943-03-04)4 March 1943
Bologna, Italy
Died 1 March 2012(2012-03-01) (aged 68)
Montreux, Switzerland
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Bologna, Italy
Occupation Singer-songwriter, musician
Years active 1966–2012 (death)
Notable work Caruso, Attenti al Lupo, Balla Balla Ballerino, Il Parco Della Luna, Lunedi, L'Ultima Luna
Style Jazz, opera
Religion Roman Catholic

Lucio Dalla, OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [ˈluːtʃo ˈdalla]; 4 March 1943 – 1 March 2012) was a popular Italian singer-songwriter, musician and actor. He also played clarinet and keyboards.

Dalla was the composer of "Caruso" (1986),[1] a song dedicated to emblematic Italian opera tenor Enrico Caruso.


Dalla was born in Bologna, Italy. He began to play the clarinet at an early age, in a jazz band in Bologna, and became a member of a local jazz band called Rheno Dixieland Band, together with future film director Pupi Avati. Avati said that he decided to leave the band after feeling overwhelmed by Dalla's talent. He also acknowledged that his film, Ma quando arrivano le ragazze? (2005), was inspired by his friendship with Dalla.[2]

In the 1960s the band participated in the first Jazz Festival at Antibes, France. The Rheno Dixieland Band won the first prize in the traditional jazz band category and was noticed by a Roman band called Second Roman New Orleans Jazz Band, with whom Dalla recorded his first record in 1961 and had the first contacts with RCA records, his future music publisher.

Singer-songwriter Gino Paoli hearing Dalla's vocal qualities, suggested that he attempt a soloist career as a soul singer. However, Dalla's debut at the Cantagiro music festival in 1965 was not successful probably due to both his physical appearance as well as his music, which was considered too experimental for the time. His first single, a rendition in Italian of the American traditional standard Careless Love was a failure, as it was his first album, 1999, that was released the following year. His next album, Terra di Gaibola (from the name of a suburb of Bologna), was released in 1970 and contained some early Dalla classics. His first hit was "4 Marzo 1943", which achieved some success due to the Sanremo Festival. The original title of the song was supposed to be "Gesù bambino", however in those years there was still stiff censorial control over the content of songs, and the title was changed to Dalla's birth date.[3]

With Roberto Roversi

Dalla's recording debut as a soloist took place in 1964, with the release of the 45 rpm-single "Lei (non è per me)" (B-side: "Ma questa sera"). In the 1970s, Dalla started a collaboration with the Bolognese poet Roberto Roversi. Roversi wrote the lyrics to Dalla's next three albums Il giorno aveva cinque teste (The Day Had Five Heads) (1973), Anidride solforosa (Sulphur dioxide) (1975) and Automobili (Automobiles) (1976).

Although these albums did not sell in large numbers, they were noted by critics for the unusual mix of Roversi's lyrics with Dalla's improvisations, along with the latter's sometimes experimental twists and composition abilities. The duo had already broken up by the time the concept album Automobili was released. Roversi, who had been against the album's release, chose the pseudonym "Norisso" when it was time to register the songs. The album, however, included one of Dalla's most popular songs, "Nuvolari", named after the famous 1930s Italian racer.[4]

Solo career

Lucio Dalla (R.) sitting in the Teatro Comunale, in Bologna, next to music producer Gianluigi Salvioni (L.)

Affected by the end of the collaboration, Dalla decided to write the lyrics of his next albums himself. The first album of this new phase was Com'è profondo il mare (1977), in which Dalla was accompanied by members of futurepop band Stadio. The title track was the hit "Quale allegria" ("What joy").

In 1979, his popularity was confirmed by the success of the Banana Republic album.

The song Caruso, released in 1986, was one of his most famous works. It has been covered by numerous international artists such as Luciano Pavarotti and Julio Iglesias. The version sung by Pavarotti sold over 9 million copies, and another version was a track on Andrea Bocelli's first international album, Romanza, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide.[5] Maynard Ferguson also covered the song on his album "Brass Attitude", after having previously paid tribute to Caruso with his rendition of "Vesti la giubba" (titled as "Pagliacci") on the album Primal Scream.[6]

The 1990 hit single Attenti al Lupo gave Dalla wider success in Europe. He was invited to duet on Pavarotti and friends, singing his hit "Caruso" with Pavarotti.[7]

In 2010, Dalla came back to work with Francesco De Gregori during the "Work in Progress" tour and album. Dalla's main influences were to be found in jazz, but his songs ranged from folk ("Attenti al lupo") and pop ("Lunedi") to classical and opera ("Caruso").[8]


Lucio Dalla in the 1980s

Dalla's discography includes twenty-two studio albums for the Italian market, a Q Disc, nine live albums, various collections and several albums for the foreign market. Here is the list of Lucio Dalla albums:


Dalla featured as an actor in seventeen films and was musical director for seventeen others. This is a list of DVDs of music concerts.

Personal life

Lucio Dalla was outed as gay after his funeral (at which his longterm associate and partner Marco Alemanno, with whom he had shared a house, spoke), although he had not publicly acknowledged this during his life, saying in a 1979 interview "Non mi sento omosessuale" ("I do not feel gay").[9][10][11]

This outing sparked debate about Italian society's attitudes towards homosexuality.[12]



On the morning of 1 March 2012, three days before his 69th birthday, Dalla died of a heart attack, shortly after having breakfast at the hotel where he was staying in Montreux, Switzerland, having performed in the city the night before. He was in the company of Marco Alemanno when he died.[15][16] An estimated 50,000 people attended his funeral in Bologna.[17]

Dalla's 1986 song "Caruso", dedicated to Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, entered the Italian Singles Chart after his creator's death, peaking at number two for two consecutive weeks.[18] The single was also certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry.[19]

San Petronio Square in Bologna, where Dalla's funeral was held and attended by an estimated 50,000 people.


  1. ""Caruso" lyrics with translation". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  2. La Stampa, "Pupi Avati "L'amicizia con Dalla l'ho girata in un film" Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "Lucio Dalla, canzoni camaleontiche tra jazz, Caruso e Gesù Bambino". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  4. "Nuvolari". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  5. Crossover superstar Andrea Bocelli finds beauty in wide range of music The Columbus Dispatch, 27 November 2011.
  6. Maynard Ferguson, "Primal Scream", CD (Columbia Records, 1976)
  7. "Luciano Pavarotti & Lucio Dalla". Youtube. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  8. Frances D'Emilio (1 March 2012). "Lucio Dalla Dead: Italian Singer-Songwriter Dies At 68". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  9. "Le polemiche su Lucio Dalla sono una vendetta dei gay". La Repubblica. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  10. "Dalla confessò: non-mi sento omosessuale". La Stampa. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  11. "Lucio Dalla gay, ma quale ipocrisia? Era solo una persona riservata", parola di Alfonso Signorini". 5 March 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  12. "Death of singer Lucio Dalla sparks Italy gay debate". 5 March 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  13. 1 2 "Website of the Quirinale decorated detail". Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  14. "Lucio Dalla, una laurea anche per lui". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  15. Enrico Gurioli (9 March 2012). "Lucio Dalla's muted homosexuality". Times of Malta. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  16. D'emilio, Frances (7 September 2012). "Lucio Dalla Dead: Italian Singer-songwriter Dies at 68". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  17. Manca, Paola Benedetta (4 March 2012). "In 50,000 in Piazza: Lacrime e Applausi per Il Funerale di Dalla". Donne sul Web (in Italian). Rome. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  18. Steffen Hung. "Lucio Dalla – Caruso". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  19. "FIMI – Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana – Certificazioni". Retrieved 4 August 2013.
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