Italian singer Toto Cutugno is dead 1

Italian singer Toto Cutugno is dead


There are a select few musicians whose abilities transcend national boundaries and linguistic barriers and captivate listeners all across the world. One such singer who not only embraced but also boldly displayed his Italian background via his music was Toto Cutugno. He made his mark on musical history with his contagious pop melodies, notably the immortal classic “L’Italiano.” As we say goodbye to this legend today, we take comfort in honoring the lasting impact he leaves behind.

A Reliable Representative of Italian Culture

Toto Cutugno was more than just a musician; he was also an ambassador for Italian culture. He created complex musical tapestries that captured the vivid vistas of his native country. Unapologetically proud, he used

“L’Italiano”: The Enchantment

Italian singer Toto Cutugno is dead

Among his diverse body of work, “L’Italiano” stood out as a classic. When it was first released in 1983, this song not only dominated the music charts but also established itself as one of the most representative Italian works to this day. Its upbeat lyrics and catchy rhythm praised the very best of what it means to be Italian. No matter how well-versed in Italian one was, it was impossible to resist tapping one’s feet and singing along to Cutugno’s exuberant performance.

Italian singer Toto Cutugno is dead


Let’s step back to the 1950s, into a simple practice room in La Spezia, Liguria. This was the place where Toto Cutugno first discovered his passion for music as a young boy, as he once shared in an interview. At the tender age of nine, his father brought him along to a rehearsal with the La Spezia band. “I sat in a quiet corner and instantly fell in love,” Cutugno fondly recalled. “The conductor noticed my fascination and asked, ‘Cutugno, why don’t we teach your son to play an instrument if he’s so captivated by music?'” Salvatore, affectionately called Toto, began his musical journey by learning to play the drums within the band. As he progressed through his student years, he became involved in various beat bands. Eventually, he rose to become one of the celebrated figures in the realm of Italo hits.

One of the pinnacles of his musical career is a song that, according to polls, stands as one of the three most beloved songs in all of Italy. In this song, Toto Cutugno melodiously celebrates the quintessential Italian clichés – from spaghetti and espresso to Fiat, all while exuding an immense sense of pride in being Italian.

During an interview on Italian television, shortly before his 75th birthday, Toto Cutugno was asked whether he had grown weary of his hit song. Cutugno’s response was resolute: “No, quite the opposite: ‘L’Italiano’ remains incomparable. It continues to bring me immense moments of joy and deep emotion. I penned it with all Italians living abroad in mind.” He recounted how, during a concert in Canada in the early 1980s, attended by thousands of Italians residing overseas, he made a promise from the stage. He pledged to write a song that would resonate with them all. As the night fell, after the concert, Cutugno settled into a restaurant, the place where the magic of composing ‘L’Italiano’ truly began.

Toto Cutugno, the singer who brought us the catchy yet slightly clichéd tune “L’Italiano,” which left an enduring mark on Italian culture for countless fans across Europe and Russia, has regrettably passed away at the age of 80. This sad event occurred on August 22, 2023, at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital.

Born as Salvatore Cutugno to Sicilian parents in Tuscany, he graced the stage at the Sanremo music festival for a remarkable decade, clinching victory in 1980 with “Solo Noi.” Despite securing second place a total of six times, he became affectionately known as Sanremo’s perennial runner-up.

His 1979 track “Voglio l’anima,” later covered by the French singer Dalida as “Monday Tuesday … Laissez moi danser,” became a standout disco hit in France. Cutugno’s crowning glory was his Eurovision win in 1990 with “Insieme: 1992,” a song celebrating the formation of the European Union two years later.

However, his most enduring success was the 1983 hit “L’Italiano.” Often humorously referred to as the “Christian Democrats of canzone” by Corriere Della Sera, the song playfully weaved together various Italian cultural clichés, from al dente spaghetti to mint-flavored shaving cream, caffè ristretto, and a “battered Fiat 600.” Despite its limited reception in English-speaking regions, it soared to the number one spot on charts in Italy, France, Switzerland, and Portugal.

What’s more, a cover version titled “I am a Finn” made waves in Finland, and the song enjoyed surprising popularity in Eastern Bloc countries such as Ukraine, Albania, Poland, Georgia, and Russia. In 2013, Cutugno was honored with a lifetime achievement award at San Remo and performed “L’Italiano” alongside the Red Army choir.

Toto Cutugno’s music deeply resonated with a diverse audience, and his impact on Italian and European music will be fondly remembered for years to come.

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