Riccardo Cocciante Bookmark and Share


20 February 1946

Riccardo was born in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to an Italian father and a French mother. He moved to Rome, Italy at the age of 11 where he attended school and started his career. He began performing in local Roman bars with his own repertoire with lyrics in English and, after several auditions with some labels, is signed by RCA Talent, debuting in 1968 under the pseudonym Richard Conte with the single ‘So di una donna/ Due come noi’ which does virtually nothing. In 1970 he is noticed by Mario Simone and Paolo Dossena who sign him for their new Delta label. In 1971 he releases a first EP ‘Down memory lane/Rhythm’ on this label under his own name. Again without any succes Riccardo again switches label and decides to stick to Italian. Together with Marco Luberti e Amerigo Paolo Cassella he embarks on a daring project recording a progrock concept album around the fictious story of the lost continent Mu. Not suprisingly the difficult album did not go down well with the public. Still RCA was convident enough to let him record another album called ‘Poesia’ which is the first with the distinct poetic style that would become his signature. Although not a succes for Riccardo it did mean a breakthrough when Patty Pravo decided to cover the titletrack in the same year and had a huge hit with it. From here on things gradually went uphill for Riccardo who year by year gained more recognition with hits like ‘Bella senz'anima’,’ Margherita’, ‘Io canto’,’ Cervo a primavera’ and ‘Quando Finisce Un Amore’. The 1976 album ‘Concerto per Margherita’ is a one time collaboration with Greek composer Vangelis.

Being of bilingual decent Cocciante also start to focus on the French market at the end of the seventies. In 1979 ‘Je chante’ is a first succes but with the cooperation with Serge Lama for the song ‘Avec simplicité’ his name is also made in France and Canada. In 1980 he collaborates with songwriter Mogol starts who broke with his former musical partner Lucio Battisti. The output by the duo is documented on the album ‘Cervo a primavera’. Finally in 1983 a true international breakthrough comes with the album ‘Sincerità’ of which the title track (recorded with Toto) becomes an enourmous hit throughout Europe. In 1985 he is asked by Italian diva Mina to write a duet which becomes ‘Questione di feeling’. A huge hit (in 1994 the duo records again, this time the song ‘Amore’) and worthy to record translated versions for the French market (with Fabienne Thibeault) and Latin market (with Melissa). Long overdue he wins  the Sanremo Festival in 1991 with the song ‘Se stiamo insieme’. In the same year he is invited by Catherine Lara to play the part of Frederique Chopin in a the musical ‘Sand et les romantiques’ she created back in France. The succes in both Italy and France kept the performer busy throughout the eighties pendling between Paris and Rome.

For instance, in 1993 he works together with Luc Plamondon (who just lost his musical partner Michel Berger) for a show at the Olympia while in Italy he has a hit with young singer Mietta, records three songs for the Disney movie ‘Toy Story’ and performs in Vienna at a special Christmas show with Plácido Domingo. Together with Plamondon he also starts working on a musical called ‘Notre Dame de Paris’ based on the story by Victor Hugo. Premiered in 1998 it is one of the more successful original French musicals of the past decade. In the same year he performs at the opening ceremony of the Gay Games in Amsterdam. With such a busy schedule it is no wonder that it takes until 2005 (eight years after his last album) that Cocciante finds the time to record a new album. Which immediately is released in five different languages. He also starts working on a musical based on the story of Romeo and Juliet premiered in 2007. 

On the web:

- Riccardo's website: http://www.coccianteclub.it/

What do we think:

PR: Since 'Sincerità' was a quite a succesful hit even in the Netherlands, I am a fan of Cocciante's music. One can say that his tunes tend to become somewhat sentimental at times and, indeed, I can not entirely deny that. But he crafted some great songs with very memorable melodies. And he has the ability to create interesting albums from beginning to end, even though a lot of people consider him to be a hit artists. No, there is definitely a lot more to Riccardo Cocciante, just listen to 'La grande avventura' (my favorite album), 'L'alba' or 'Concerto per Margherita' and I have no doubt that you will also fall for Cocciante...

DB: I always thought it a bit odd that throughout Europe everyone knows a Cocciante tune but no one outside France or Italy can label the song to the author. In the Netherlands he had big hits as a songwriter with for instance songs like ' Cervo a primavera’ (covered by Marco Borsato as ‘Ik leef niet meer voor jou'), 'Per lei’ (covered by Paul de Leeuw as ‘Voorbij’) and 'Ancora' (covered by Andre Hazes as 'Nee nooit meer'). Not to name ‘Margherite’ which is probably his biggest hit in the low countries. It is proof of the outstanding songwriting skills he has and somehow his music, how well translated and covered, always has that Italian ring to it. Maybe that is why so many people go for his tunes. I can only advice one thing, you’ve heard the covers now try the original (it’s much better).

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

Patrick Bruel (France)

Albums (in Italian):

♪♪♪ - Mu  - 1972

♪♪♪♪ - Poesia - 1973

Anima - 1974

♪♪♪♪ - L'alba - 1975

♪♪♪♪ - Concerto per Margherita - 1976

Riccardo Cocciante - 1978

♪♪ - ...E io canto - 1979

♪♪ - Cervo a primavera - 1980

Cocciante  - 1982

♪♪♪♪ - Sincerità - 1983

♪♪♪♪ - Il mare dei papaveri - 1985

♪♪♪ - Quando si vuole bene (live) - 1986

♪♪♪♪♪ - La grande avventura - 1988

Viva! - 1988

♪♪♪♪ - Se stiamo insieme - 1991

♪♪ - Eventi e mutamenti - 1993

Il mio nome è Riccardo - 1994

♪♪♪ - Un uomo felice - 1994

♪♪♪ - Innamorato - 1997

♪♪♪ - Istantanea - 1998

♪♪♪ - Songs - 2005

♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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