Rino Gaetano

Salvatore Antonio "Rino" Gaetano (Crotone,-October 29, 1950 - Rome-June 2, 1981), was an Italian singer-songwriter.

Rino Gaetano was born in Crotone, in the southern Italian region of Calabria. At the age of nine, he had to follow his parents to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life.

After a few shows at Folkstudio, he was discovered by Vincenzo Micocci and released his first single in 1973, "I Love You Marianna" (with "Jacqueline" on the B-side) under the pseudonym 'Kammamuri', produced by Antonello Venditti and Piero Montanari. The title referred to Gaetano's fondness for his grandmother Marianna, who used to play with him as a child, but it was also interpreted as a pun on loving marijuana.

In 1974 he published his first album, Ingresso libero, to little commercial and critical success; however, the LP featured the same eccentric style that would go on to characterize his career. Success came the following year with the 45 rpm record "Ma il cielo è sempre più blu"; on the album, Gaetano mixed his unique musical talent with a typical "man from the street" attitude and socialistic ideals (then very common among the Italian youth). In 1976 his song "Berta filava" also became very popular, with a long pun on "the good old' times" when Berta would work hard and go out with men.

In 1978 Gaetano took part in the Sanremo Music Festival performing the song "Gianna" and reaching third place after Anna Oxa and Matia Bazar. Gaetano had originally planned to perform "Nuntereggae più", which was a highly-innovative (for the times) half-sung/half-spoken proto-rap against several Italian sportsmen, politicians and other high-profile figures; producers of the show refused to let him sing that one, pointing out that it also mentioned the then-active Red Brigades, so he picked "Gianna" instead. The song went on to dominate the charts for several weeks.

An extremely versatile artist, he played the role of the Fox from Pinocchio in a movie directed by Carmelo Bene and filmed in Rome during 1981.

His career was cut short by a car accident at the age of 30. On June 2, 1981, his car (a Volvo 343) crashed into a truck on the Via Nomentana street in Rome. After the crash, Gaetano was reportedly injured but still alive, but was then rejected by five hospitals, and died on the way to a sixth. He was buried in Verano Cemetery, just a few days before his wedding date. One of his own songs, "La canzone di Renzo", featured a similar death for one of the characters.

According to his friend and colleague Antonello Venditti Gaetano, a noted cocaine consumer, was under the influence while at the wheel; his sister and family, however, reject the claim.

The first book on his life, also the first official biography, was published in 2001, 20 years after his death.

A a two-episodes TV movie about Rino Gaetano's life aired on RAI 1, on 11–12 November 2007.

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