Ivan Cattaneo

Bookmark and Share


18 March 1953

Ivan Cattaneo was born in Pianico (Bergamo) located next to Lake Iseo. At twelve he participated in the selection of the Zecchino d'Oro and at the age of fifteen at the Festival of Ariccia. While attending art school and learned to play the guitar and began playing in a local band, mostly covering their mutual idol Frank Zappa. In 1974 he signed to the small independent label ‘Ultima Spiaggia’ and released his first album ‘UOAEI’ in 1975. Musically the album breathed the influence of Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Commercially it did nothing not stopping Ivan to release and even more demented album in 1977. Oddly enough the single ‘Maria Batman’ became his first success. The album was accompanied by the book ‘Tuvog’ in which Ivan explains his theory of TATTOUDITOVISTAOLFATTOGUSTO.

But Ivan’s influence went further then music and books. For his friend Anna Oxa he invented the image of a young punk when she debuted at Sanremo '78 (with the Fossati song ‘Un'emozione da poco’). The look was highly based on the then unknown punk-look. Ivan became the Malcolm McLaren of Italy being patronage for punk rock acts like Revolver and Elektroshock and, in the early '80s, launching singers like Mitchell, Patrizia Di Malta and Diana Est. His song ‘Male Bello’ was covered by Patty Pravo for her ‘Munich album’ (79).Under his own name he released his third album ‘Superivan’ in 1979.

In 1980 Ivan signs at the CGD label album for the album ‘Urlo’. The single 'Polisex' was soon adopted by the Milanese alternative scene as an anthem and became his biggest hit. For his follow up album Cattaneo made a cover album calling it ‘Archeologia moderna’ in rearranging Italian hits from the past. Songs like ‘Nessuno mi può giudicare’ and  ‘Una zebra a pois’ became mild hits also thanks to the TV show "Mister Fantasy" in which Ivan was a regular guest. It sold 475,000 copies. This helped sales of the 1982 album and confirmed Ivan’s status in the Italian new wave. In 1983 he opened the disco 'Bandiera Gialla' in Rimini together with his friend producer Caterina Caselli. An album with the same name was parallel released. But all these new ventures also put an end to Ivan’s musical career. For most of the remaining decade he devoted himself to other things like painting. In 1989 he had his first exhibition called ‘Gioconda Haiku’.

Always keen on new styles Cattaneo hooked up on the drum & bass craze in 1992 with the album ‘Il cuore è nudo...e i pesci cantano’. In 1994, Ivan goes to work to create an ambitious art project consisting of music, dance, poetry and art entitled 'ZOOcietà DUEOOO', presented only in preview in February 2001, but which in practice has not yet seen the light. The work would eventually materialize in late 2009 in the form of DVDs. In 1996 he released the single ‘Love is love dance’ under the pseudonym Cut Ivan. In 2002 he presents a new art exhibit mixing paintings with digital effects. In the same year he plays the part of the Pharaoh in the musical "Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat”.  In 2003 he directs two video’s for Giunni Russo (‘Morirò d'amore’ e ‘Una rosa è una rosa’). In 2005 his 30th anniversary is celebrated with ‘Luna presente’ features new work and new versions of old hits. In 2010 he again presents a cover album, this time his favourite Eighties hits with covers from songs by Luca Carboni, Donatella Rettore, Amanda Lear and Gianna Nannini.  

On the web:

- Ivan's website: http://www.ivancattaneo.it/

What do we think:

PR: ...

DB: In music the line between genius and insanity can be a thin one. And this certainly apllies to Cattaneo. Ivan's musical ouput goes from completely bonkers (with his first album) to slightly mad (with his Eighties work). He singing capabilities are, let's say, different and his dress sense is lightyears ahead of the rest of mankind (if ever). Non-italians may discard him as an oddball but in fact Mister Cattaneo has been a secret force behind the scenes sculpting and marketing new Italian talent besides his own. He is not so crazy as he looks.

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

Plastic Bertrand (Belgium)

Oliver Mandiç (Serbia)

Recomended albums:

♪♪ - UOAEI - 1975

- Primo secondo e frutta (Ivan compreso) - 1977

♪♪ - SuperIvan - 1979

♪♪♪♪ - Urlo - 1980

♪♪♪ - 2060 Italian Graffiati - 1981

♪♪♪ - Ivan il terribile - 1982

- Bandiera gialla - 1983

- Vietato ai minori - 1986

- Il cuore è nudo...e i pesci cantano - 1992

- Luna presente - 2005

- '80 e basta! - 2010


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


Like us on
Your newsletter
Do you want to receive our monthly newsletter? Just tick in your e-mail adress below and stay in touch.

You will receive an e-mail message (sorry, in Dutch) that you have to confirm.