Zucchero (born Adelmo Fornaciari) is the biggest selling Italian artist of all time, and has achieved international success through his numerous collaborations with artists including Bono, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Andrea Bocelli, B.B King, and Sting to name but a few. His album ORO, INCENSO E BIRRA sold more than eight million copies and was for a long time the biggest selling album in the history of Italian pop music worldwide.
He returns with his new international album, BLACK CAT and UK concert dates scheduled at the Royal Albert Hall on 20th and 21st October as part of his world wide tour which launches in September. BLACK CAT, was recorded during 2015 in collaboration with Bono (who wrote the lyrics for “Streets of Surrender (S.O.S.)” after the Bataclan Paris tragedy), Elvis Costello (“Turn The World Down”) and high calibre producers Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan) T-Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, Elton John, Tony Bennett), and Don Was (Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan). Mark Knopfler also plays guitar on both “Streets of Surrender (SOS)” and “Ci Si Arrende”.
ItalianLondon were lucky enough to sit down with this rock and blues legend at the BBC studios in London on Midsummers Day to talk about music, life..and pasta. A true gentleman and humble rock star, we had half an hour with this legend exchanging stories, memories and restaurant tips, and we left feeling like we’d had a chat with an old friend…an old friend who also just happens to be one of the world’s greatest rockstars of course.
Welcome to London Zucchero! is London a city you know well?
I’ve visited many times over the years either because I’ve been performing or recording music, so know it very well in that sense, although I’ve always been so busy with work that probably haven’t had a chance to experience the real London ‘nightlife’ that I’ve always heard about.
Next time you’re here we’d be happy to recommend some places to go….especially for a good plate of pasta!
Funnily enough (and this might not be relevant to non-football fans) I remember going out to eat in an Italian restaurant in London years back, around the time when Schilacci played for Italy in the World Cup…and was offered a ‘special’ plate of ‘Schilacci spaghetti’…after much fuss and discussion wondering what what it could possibly be, it was exactly the same as the normal plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce on the menu…just with the addition of a small chilli placed on top of the plate!
…we’ll be sure to send you somewhere better next time!
Zucchero you’ve just released Black Cat…what was the theme and inspiration behind this album?
I was in America on my last tour, where I did 38 concerts, mostly in the Deep South, such as Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville… a part of the USA I especially love, as it’s so rich in history, being the birthplace of Blues, Jazz, Country, Soul, Gospel and so on. So by the time I returned home, my head was full of sounds, rhythms, images, feelings, thoughts….one day soon after the tour, I thought back to those old classic Western films and imagined that I was an innocent prisoner in jail, trying to escape and beating my chains against the prison bars, which turned into a rhythm and then music…and then it occurred to me that nothing has really changed, and that now even in this modern world we still have many innocent prisoners such as all those people escaping from wars such as in Syria, fleeing to Europe in hope of a better future…these are the new innocent prisoners of this world. I talk about freedom, I talk about fighting hate, I talk about universal love, all expressed through my music….this is basically what this album is about.
You’ve collaborated with various international artists over the years, and for this album too, including for example Bono, Elvis Costello and Mark Knopfler – how did you all come together?
Well with Bono for example, we’ve known each other since 1992 when he did the English version of one of my songs Miserere which I did with Pavarotti. I’ve previously collaborated with Elvis Costello too, also in 1992 on another song from the Miserere album and with Mark Knopfler, well we actually met in Abbey Road some years back. I’m the godfather one of Sting’s children, and for Paul Young’s too. They come and visit me on holiday, I go and visit them, we speak on the phone. We’ve built a great friendship and mutual respect for each other over the years, so there’s no need to call each other’s agents or do too much planning. For example if I’m at home writing music in my studio, I might come across a part where I think ‘this part would be great with a bit of guitar from Mark Knopfler’ and I call him and ask him. If he likes it he does it, if he doesn’t he doesn’t. It all comes very naturally.
Your music has a very international sound, which is the musical style which inspires you the most?
I fell in love with African American music, rhythm, blues and soul when I was around 11 or 12 years old due to a friend of mine from Boston who was studying at University of Bologna. He made me listen to Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin to name but a few, and this style of music and way of singing made a great impression on me from an early age. As a result I formed a band with some friends at school and started to sing covers. We used to play in different places and clubs and then finally became a professional band. Other bands such as the Rolling Stones or the Beatles influenced me too but it’s always been the sounds of the African American music which have made the biggest impact. I’d say my music consists of the rhythm and sound of African American music, but with Italian melodies.
Do you also have other hobbies or passions apart from music?
I live in a converted mill, and have a farm with animals and farmers who work the land and cultivate grains, barley, cereal, vegetables. It’s a place where I can get all my friends together to eat, to make music, to enjoy life. Sometimes life can become very hectic, and this keeps my feet firmly on the ground. I also love collecting vintage Italian cars such as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari too, it’s a passion I’ve developed in the last two or three years really.
What can we expect to see on your forthcoming tour which starts in September? Will you also be performing some of your classics too?
Yes sure! the tour will be a big affair with 13 musicians (of which there are some Italians and Americans too from the Deep South). We start in Verona on 16th September with 11 dates, and continue in London with two dates on the 20th and 21st of October at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert will be around two and half hours long, where of course I’ll be performing songs from my new album but also some of my old hits too. The first part of the tour will finish in Tel Aviv in the middle of November, and then at the end of February next year it will start again with dates in Canada, America, South America, Australia and Japan, all in all it’ll be a year’s worth of touring.
Do you have a message for your fans in the UK ahead of the tour?
It’s always a pleasure to come and perform in the UK, also because there’s a great mix of people, including some Italian fans. Italians as you know can be very outgoing and passionate at times, and know how to enjoy themselves, so I’d say – come to the concert, just let go and be part of a real Italian experience!
For more information including Black Cat track listings, tour dates, and tickets, visit Zucchero’s website