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Fred Buscaglione

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Ferdinando “Fred” Buscaglione (Turin, 23 November 1921 - Rome, 3 February 1960) was an Italian singer and actor who became very popular in late 1950s. His public persona - the character he played both in his songs and his movies - was a humorous mobster with a penchant for whisky and women.

His great passion for music showed up at a very young age. When he was 11, his parents enrolled him at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Turin. During his teen years, he performed in his hometown’s night clubs as jazz singer or playing double bass and violin.

During World War II, he ended up in a US internment camp in Sardinia. Some military understood his musical talent, and had him join the orchestra of the allied radio station of Cagliari. This enabled Buscaglione to continue to make music in those war years, and to experiment with new sounds and rhythms coming from the US. Most foreign music had been officially forbidden by the Italian Fascist regime.

After the war, Buscaglione returned to Turin and resumed working as a musician for various bands. He then formed his own group, the Asternovas. In the meantime he was gradually creating his public character, inspired by Clark Gable and Mickey Spillane’s gangsters. His friend Leo Chiosso, a lyricist who formed a very good songwriting duo with Buscaglione, provided him with humorous stories about gangsters and their babes, New York and Chicago, tough men who were ruthless with enemies but easily fell victims to a woman’s charms. They wrote together the hits that brought nation-wide fame to Buscaglione: Che bambola, Teresa non sparare, Eri piccola così, Guarda che luna, Love in Portofino, Porfirio Villarosa, Whisky facile.

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