The Italian Almanac

Lucio Battisti

Amarsi un po'
La canzone del sole
Il tempo di morire


Lucio Battisti

Battisti was born in a little city of Northern Latium, and moved with his family to Rome in 1947. A self-taught guitarist, Battisti made his debut as musician in the 1960s, performing in local bands in Rome, Naples and later in Milan: here he joined I Campioni ("The Champions"), the support band of then famous singer Tony Dallara.

In Milan he found the aid of a French talent scout, Christine Leroux, who worked for the Ricordi musical label. Leroux took Battisti under her wing, as he penned three sizeable hits in 1966 for other artists. Leroux also introduced Battisti to songwriter Giulio Rapetti, better known as Mogol: though not impressed at first by Battisti's musics, Mogol declared later to have decided to start the collaboration anyway after recognizing Battisti's humble, though determined, desire to improve his works. Mogol also pushed Ricordi to allow Battisti to sing his songs: his voice, which until then had been regarded too low and coarse, was to become one of his points of strength and originality instead. As a singer, he made his debut with his tune "Per una lira" in 1966: despite the relatively mediocre success, it allowed him to begin building a career as soloist.

Battisti continued to write tunes for others in the late 1960s. The US rock group Grass Roots scored a hit stateside with one of Battisti's compositions, "Balla Linda". His first great hit was "Acqua azzurra, acqua chiara" ("Blue Water, Clear Water"). The same year, Battisti issued his self-titled debut LP, which topped the Italian charts and included another of his most famous songs, "Mi ritorni in mente" ("You Come Back in My Mind"). During this successful year he also met with Grazia Letizia Veronesi, who lived with Battisti until his death.

In 1978 Battisti released "Una donna per amico" (A Woman Just as My Friend), which was the best-selling Battisti-Mogol LP ever. Neverthless, it marked the begin of the decline of their relationship. Battisti had started to limit himself to send his music to Mogol by mail, receiving the lyrics in the same way. Critics pointed out that the emotions of the duo's songs had started to wane out. Una giornata uggiosa ("A Gloomy Day") suffered clearly of this lack: Battisti's melodies, moreover, were almost entirely choked by the "international pop" arrangement imposed by English producer Goeff Westley.

In 1981 Battisti broke the partnership with Mogol, switching to a more experimental, sometimes weird inspiration, based often on electronic instruments. The LPs of his "second period" received a mixed reception from both critics and audiences. Battisti's last album was Hegel, recorded in 1994.

On September 9, 1998, Battisti passed away in a Milan hospital at the age of 55. Since Battisti's death, several compilations of his best tracks have surfaced, including 2000's Battisti and 2001's Canzoni D'Amore. His catalogue is published by BMG Music Publishing.

Through the years, Battisti has consolidated his status as probably the most popular Italian singer. His songs remain immensely famous in Italy and are often performed live by other notable musicians. Although sometimes criticized for their total lack of reference to social or actual themes, Mogol-Battisti's works influenced respected singer-songwriters like Francesco De Gregori.