MAURO PAOLUZZI : GIANNA NANNINI, ANNIE LENNOX AND A LIFE OF MUSIC
Mauro Paoluzzi tells his long journey in music, unveiling new episodes of his long collaboration with Gianna Nannini and other international stars
Mauro Paoluzzi is a name that embodies multi-dimensional personalities and professionalism. As the most zealous aficionados and listeners know well, Mauro Paoluzzi’s signature includes an incredible number of overwhelming Italian music successes, from the 70s up to today. A musician who has evolved over the years into composer and record producer, Paoluzzi has contributed to the consecration of iconic and revolutionary artists like Gianna Nannini, the first Italian rocker to garner acclaim not only in Italy, but also abroad. Nannini triumph with the song ‘America’ is inextricably linked Paoluzzi, an authentic blend that absorbs and amplifies the creativity and talent of the artists he met during his long and prolific career. A goldmine of anecdotes and sensations about the Italian and international music-scene protagonists, Mauro Paoluzzi leads the scene, drawing on an inexhaustible wealth that leads him to new challenges: past and present blend with a broad and forward-looking vision of the future that feeds on the desire to continuously give emotions to lovers of poetry of quality musical compositions.
You are a composer, producer, record producer, drummer and guitarist. What roles make you feel the most comfortable?
I was born as a drummer: I played the drums from the ‘60s to the’ 80s, then I evolved into guitarist and composer in the ‘70s, thus discovering my compositional vein. From the ‘80s to today I am a producer and composer. Today, my favorite
instrument is guitar, even if the drums remain in my DNA. My most comfortable role today is that of producer, because it gives me creative space to express my ideas more completely, with a total vision of the composition I am working on.
‘America’ by Gianna Nannini is certainly high up amongst your successes there is certainly, and was a song and a record that, starting from the cover, was a clear attack on conventional beliefs and society. How did you come up with the idea? Was it just a provocation?
Surely provocation was a key ingredient for the album’s mood and the cover was its natural consequence. In the midst of a male-dominated rock scene, the song ‘America’ composed by me, with lyrics by Roberto Vecchioni and Gianna Nannini, was an alternative style.
The song hit in Germany first and then in Italy. A free feminine spirit was being born and Gianna was its spokesperson. In fact, the feminist movement had been struggling since the mid-1960s and the concept of an America as the land where everything is possible, and dreams can come true are what the much-celebrated “American Dream” reaffirms.
Gianna Nannini is amongst the most well known Italian artists abroad, especially in Germany. What are your memories of her aside from her musical personality?
The first time I met her I felt that there was a fragile, and at the same time extremely determined, girl in front of me. These two so contrasting souls drew an interesting personality from the human and artistic point of view. An indelible memory of that period was a day in the studio, rehearsing ‘America’, it came time to record. I felt like I was next to a lioness, and it was then I felt the true, powerful potential of Gianna.
You have worked with the core of Italian musical greats, like Patty Pravo, Roberto Vecchioni, Antonello Venditti, Loredana Bertè, Anna Oxa, Mina, Mia Martini. What is your take away from working with these artists?
Everyone gave me something different that enriched my experience. For example, Roberto Vecchioni has given me imagination and culture, Patty Pravo magic and madness, Mango the compositional irreverence of his pure talent, Loredana Bertè the unconscious ability to convey feelings, Bennato the ability to tell life through fairytales, Gianna Nannini the scream of rage and the need for love, Fabio Concato the fear of loving. Morgan dei Bluvertigo, aka Marco Castoldi, represented the arrogance of a generous teacher, while Andy, Andrea Fumagalli, gave me back the band’s pinnacle philosophy.
A singer you wish you could have worked with?
Adriano Celentano. Without a doubt. A singer who manages to be popular, to touch hearts, but is not national pop-chart popular. Bright even in his contradictions. I have great esteem for Paolo Conte, as I’ve said many times — an artist whose flexibility makes him an ideal song interpreter.
Have you written any songs that are just waiting in the drawer for a new artist?
No, at the moment not. Some of the songs I have on hold are in Arianna Antinori (Hostaria Cohen), last album, released October 2017.
How has music changed? What do you miss about the past?
Music hasn’t changed, there is still good and bad, but obviously I miss the beautiful songs of the era. I do miss the times when artists were judged for their ability to communicate with their fans and audience, not simply applauded or discarded for a handful of television station managers.
Do you have any career anecdotes?
It would take a whole magazine to tell them all, but there are some that stand out. In 1982 we were working on Gianna’s fifth album, Latin Lover. The band, including Gianna, and myself featured Claudio Golinelli on bass, Mauro Pagani on the violin and others I can’t remember now. The producer Conny Plank (German synthesizer genius) had called a female, Scottish piano-and-keyboard player that gave incisive power to Gianna’s. We recorded at Stone Castle Studios in Carimate for about a month and in the end, thanks to the atmosphere, left as friends as well as colleagues. One day, during a break, the Scottish musician approached me asking me if I would like to listen to a tape. She placed my headphones on my head and patiently began to wait for my opinion. By the first piece, I was floored. Nearly ripping my headphones off, I asked who was singing. Candidly she answered: “It’s me, don’t make fun of me!” I told her, “I’ve been listening to you for a month and you’re not a singer!” She got very angry and turning
“I do miss the times when artists were judged for their ability to communicate with their fans and audience”
her back, began to sing the a cappella version of the song I had just finished listening to on the headphones. “In a month of background singing, I’ve never heard you sing like that!” I was almost shouting. “And why should I? It wasn’t called for,” she replied. That marvelous voice had been kept for herself. I am talking about the Eurythmics first piece. And she ... well, she was Annie Lennox, destined to soon become one of the most famous pop rock singers in the world.
Arianna Antinori is amongst your new recruits. What did you see in this young artist?
A journalist, Francesco Paracchini, who made me listen to the first Arianna’s album in English, asked me. The sound of the voice struck me, the production less, in short, I was puzzled, we organized a meeting in the studio to know each other and the impact was very positive. We hit it off immediately. I told her that her voice reminded me of Janis Joplin and she showed me one of her videos in which she sang Joplin’s iconic
An indelible memory of that period was a day in the studio, rehearsing ‘America’, it came time to record. I felt like I was next to a lioness, and it was then I felt the true, powerful potential of Gianna.
“Mercedes Benz”, for which she won a prize in 2010 from the Joplin brothers themselves. At that moment, I understood the reason of her love of English, and that Joplin piece truly represented it. I was becoming increasingly interested in the human and artistic part of Arianna. Francesco invited me to go and see her perform live at the “All’unetrentacinque” club in Cantù, then and there I was bewitched by the artistic generosity, the ability to transport the public and the heart and the passion that emanated on stage. From that moment I decided to collaborate with her: Arianna is in love with music and not with the success that comes from it, that is what won me over. Today her Italian debut album “Hostaria Cohen”, will be released. The end of 2017. There couldn’t have been a better ending to 2017.
Above: Nuovi Angeli , 1974 - From left: Paki (vocals), in the center Mauro Paoluzzi (drums), Renato Sabbioni (bass), Alberto Pasetti (guitar) Below: Bluvertigo On the opposite page: Gianna Nannini
Arianna Antinori, 2017 Live at the Milan Alcatraz: debut of the album “Hostaria Cohen” produced by Mauro Paoluzzi.
Above: Lani Groves (Stevie Wonder’s chorister), Hamish Stuart (Aretha Franklin, Paul Mccartney, Ringo Starr, A.W.B. vocalist), Walter Calloni. “Cast” Album produced by Mauro Paoluzzi. - Studio Masterdisk - New York, NY 1981 Below: Mauro Paoluzzi in the...
Left to right: 40th anniversary of collaboration with Warner Chappell. Mauro Paoluzzi e Roberto Razzini, CEO and Managing Director Warner Chappell Music Italiana srl. Gianna Nannini, Annie Lennox, Jaki Liebzeit. Latin Lover album recording. 1982, Stone...
Between 1992 and 1993 Bertè was working with Mauro Paoluzzi on the “Ufficialmente Dispersi” album. At that time the singer was splitting-up with Borg: her great pain remained imprinted on the song “I miss you” (Mi manchi), dedicated to him. The...
Mauro Paoluzzi together with the British rock guitarist Phil Palmer: the two artists have worked together on many projects. Forward Studios, Grottaferrata (Roma).