Franco Battiato Bookmark and Share


23 March 1945 - 18 may 2021

Franco Battiato was born in Jonia di Riposto, Catania on Sicily. At the age of 20 Battiato moved to Milan and in 1968 he obtained the first musical contract. He scored some success with the romantic song È l'amore. After further covers of pop songs, he met the experimental musician Juri Camisasca in 1970 and collaborated with Osage Tribe, an Italian psychedelic-progressive rock band. As a solo artist, he released the science-fiction single ´La convenzione´ (´The convention´).

Starting from 1971, Battiato devoted much of his efforts to experimental electronic music, producing a series of LPs that remained almost unknown at the time, but are now eagerly sought by collectors worldwide. Starting out with electronic progressive rock with some emphasis on vocals, his music became increasingly experimental, gradually moving into the realms of musique concrète and minimalism: 'Fetus' (1971, whose cover was censored), 'Pollution' (1972), 'Sulle Corde di Aries' (1973), 'Clic' (1974) and 'M.lle Le Gladiator' (1975). In 1975, he moved to the Dischi Ricordi label, producing 'Battiato' (1975), 'Juke Box' (1976) and the experimental 'L'Egitto prima delle sabbie' ('Egypt before the sands', 1977), which won the Stockhausen award for contemporary music.

After having been fired by Ricordi, Battiato signed a contract for EMI. Largely, though not wholly, abandoning the experiments of the early years, he moved to a more pop-oriented style which afforded him ever increasing popularity with Italian audiences. In this period his albums were usually in collaboration with the renowned musician and violinist Giusto Pio, whose two later albums were produced by Battiato.

After 'L'era del cinghiale bianco' ('The era of the white boar') 1979 and 'Patriots' (1980), Battiato obtained astounding success with 'La voce del padrone' ('The master's voice') in 1981, which was the first Italian LP to sell more than one million copies. The commercial success was confirmed by 'L'arca di Noè' ('Noah's Ark') in 1982. With their original mix of oriental and philosophical fashions with pop rhythms, established Battiato's status as one of intelligent musicians in Italy.

In 1984 Battiato entered the Eurovison, together with singer and friend Alice, with the song 'I treni di Tozeur' ('The trains of Tozeur'). Although now considered one of the festival's classics, the song did not win. 1988's 'Fisiognomica' ('Physionomics') confirmed Battiato's status as a big star. It contained the song 'Nomadi' ('Nomads'), written by his old friend Camisasca, who in the meantime had retired to a Franciscan convent. In the nineties Battiato tried to work more classical elements in his music with the classical operas: 'Genesi' (1987), 'Gilgamesh' (1992) and 'Il Cavaliere dell'Intelletto' (1994). 'Come un cammello su una grondaia' ('Like a camel in a gutter') was a more inbetween project. This album was divided into two parts, the second made up by classical German lieder. Among the pop songs was 'Povera patria' ('My poor father land'), a poetical denouncement of Italy's lack of culture and honesty. Pio and Battiato also worked as producers for several singers, including Alice and Giuni Russo, and for two of Milva's albums. Starting from 1987, Battiato In 1990 he also began to experiment with painting, initially under the pseudonym of Süphan Barzani. In 1994 Battiato began to collaborate with the Sicilian philosopher Manlio Sgalambro, who was to write almost all the lyrics of his following albums.

'Gommalacca' (1998, with an unusual stress on hard rock), 'Ferro battuto' (2000) and 'Dieci stratagemmi' (2004) continued their partnership in the new millenium. In 2003 Battiato released his first feature film, 'Perduto amor' ('Lost love'), for which he also composed the soundtrack. In 2004 he hosted a cultural show for a satellite channel of RAI, the Italian state network. After a lengthy period of cover albums and arty projects the maestro retruns to pop with his 2012 album 'Apriti sesamo'.

In 2014 he suddenly breaks with the neo-classical sounds and makes a return to his early psychedelic sound with ´Joe Patti's experimental group´ a collaboration with Catania composer Pino Pischetola , aka Pinaxa. The duo takes the album around Europe on a clubtour. March 16, 2015 (at the Petruzzelli Theater in Bari) Franco falls from the stage on a monitor case and causing a fracture of the femur a few days after his seventieth year of age. The year after sees a return to the stage with a tour together with Alice. But his health is gradually getting worse.In september 2017 he holds his last concert In Catania. In 2019 the album Torneremo Ancora is released which are actually the rehearsels with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra for his 2017 tour. Critics are stunned, Battiato sounds desolate and fragile. He also annouces this is his last album. Not soon after he dies on 18 May 2021, at his home in Milo, Catania, surrounded by rumours about a neurodegenerative disease, osteoporosis or cancer. The real cause of death remains as a secret in order to respect Battiato’s last request and family petition

On the web:

- Franco's website: http://www.battiato.it

What do we think:

PR: Battiato combines musical experiments with classic Italian songs. With his beautiful, soft voice he enchants millions of people around the globe (or at least in Italy...). Although he was - and still is - commercially sucecsful, he kept himself from the dangour of repeating himself, thanks to his continuous strive for renewal and experiment. If you are interested in discovering Battiato´s work (and who would no be...) the albums Fisionomica and L'Imboscata would be a great introduction.

DB: The maestro of Italian pop. Wrote and composed some of the most beautifull Italian pop songs. Battiatio has an intrigueng career coming from modern classical arrangements and ending in pure pop. He can be found in the midst of the 'intellegent' italian pop scene with artists like Alice, Guini Russo and Camicasca around him. His signature is unmistakeable. Arrangements where the strings are offbeat, where there is room for a opera-like bridge, which subsequently is caught by a guitar powerrif, the melodies swooning like a swallow in the Italian sun.

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts

Gérard Manset (France)


Battiato made a lot of albums which we roughly divide in his sixties period, his experimental minimal seventies work, his studies in popmusic untill Fisiognomica, and the period after Fisiognomica where everything falls into place.


La Convenzione - 1971 (not really an album but more a compilation of his sixties E.P's)

Seventies: The 'minimal' period:
Either you're into experimental soundscape minimal music or you want to have your Battiato collection complete. If you're not in one of these categories try Clic or Pollution first before going on. Difficult music ahead.


Fetus - 1971

Pollution - 1972

Sulle corde di Aries - 1973

Clic - 1974

M.lle le Gladiator - 1975

Za - 1976

Juke box - 1977

L'Egitto prima delle sabbie - 1978

Eighties and onward: trying to make the perfect pop record:
All the classics are formed in this period, but not in their definite form. Battiati would later rework, re-record and refine them. In in most cases better versions. Only 'Il re del mondo' from the 1979 album still stands in it's original basic form.

♪♪ - L'era del cinghiale bianco - 1979

♪♪♪ - Patriots - 1980

♪♪♪♪♪ - La voce del Padrone - 1981

♪♪♪- L'arca di Noè - 1982

♪♪♪ - Orizzonti perduti - 1983

♪♪♪ - Mondi lontanissimi - 1985

♪♪ - Echoes of sufi dances (compilation in English) - 1985

♪♪♪♪♪- Fisiognomica - 1988

♪♪♪♪- Come un cammello in una grondaia - 1991

♪♪♪♪ - Caffè de la Paix - 1993

♪♪♪ - L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire - 1995

♪♪♪♪♪ - L'imboscata - 1996

♪♪♪♪♪ - Gommalacca - 1998

♪♪♪ - Ferro battuto - 2001

♪♪♪♪ - Dieci stratagemmi - 2004

♪♪♪♪♪ - Il vuoto - 2007

♪♪ - Fleurs2 - 2008

♪♪ - Inneres Auge - 2009

♪♪♪♪ - Apriti Sesamo - 2012

♪♪♪ - Joe Patti´s Experimental Group - 2014

- Torneremo Ancora - 2019

The classical ones:
Shadow Light - 1996; Genesi - 1987; Gilgamesh - 1992; Messa arcaica - 1994; Campi magnetici - 2000

The live albums:
Giubbe Rosse - 1989; Unprotected - 1994; Battiato live collection - 1997; Last summer Dance - 2003

The cover albums:
Fleurs - 1999; Fleurs 3 - 2002; Fleurs 2 - 2008

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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