Italian Song Challenge Day 19: Zucchero

Zucchero is probably one of the best known Italian artists in the world, his music is basically rhythm and blues with an Italian spin.

Zucchero’s career has stemmed for more than three decades. His music is always in constant evolution his catalogue of albums has included elements of Italian ballads, R&B boogie like pieces, gospel, rock, soul, folk, Cuban and Jazz styles.


Adelmo Fornaciari known by his stage name Zucchero (sugar) which was a nickname an elementary teacher gave him as a child. He is credited as the father of Italian rhythm and blues which has become immensely popular worldwide.


Fornaciari has sold over 60 million records around the world. His most successful singles are Diamante (Diamond, a song inspired by his mother), Baila Morena and the duet Senza Una Donna (Without a woman) with Paul Young.


Zucchero has collaborated and performed with many famous artists including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, B.B King, Sting, Bono, Joe Cocker, Peter Gabriel, Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.


Born in a small village near Reggio Emilia he spent most of his childhood singing in the choir and playing the organ in the local church. At the age of 13, he discovered American soul and blues thanks to an African American friend who also taught him how to play the guitar. The first song he learnt to play was Otis Redding’s On the dock of the bay. He started writing his own songs at the age of 14.


Fornicari began to play in different bands in 1970 and dropped out of his veterinary science course to pursue his music. In 1975 he went to San Francisco where he met producer Corrado Rustici and began talks for future collaboration with Afro American influences which was very unusual for Italy.


Frustrated by his floundering solo career, he returned to America in 1984 and began collaborating with his old friend Rustici. The collaboration resulted in an album titled Zucchero & The Randy Jackson Band and the song Donne (women) became a hit single and is one of the classic Italian songs.

A follow-up album Rispetto (Respect) was made in 1986 and included several his singles, going platinum and selling over 300,000 copies.


Zucchero’s 1987 album Blues went on to become the best selling album in Italian history, that is until his following album in 1989 which sold 1.5 million copies.

Fornicari’s career has been filled with endless highlights, dozens of collaborations and many songs influenced by American soul music.

Zucchero’s dedication to the blues, his enigmatic voice and personal reflective writing style makes him one of the most popular and well-loved Italian artists ever.


E’ un peccato morir (It’s a pity to die) is typical of Zucchero’s bittersweet reflective style.

The song combines elements of witty observation and irony with is loud bluesman voice. It is only one in a seemingly endless catalogue of songs to be loved and appreciated.

Images c/o Instagram

2 thoughts on “Italian Song Challenge Day 19: Zucchero

  1. I’ve been waiting for this one! I had tickets to see Zucchero here in Vancouver in April but it has been postponed to 2021. I saw him perform about 25 years ago in a small venue and he was brilliant. Ciao, Cristina

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