Nino Ferrer in Italy, 1980
|Birth name||Nino Agostino Arturo Maria Ferrari|
15 August 1934|
|Died||13 August 1998
|Genres||Jazz; R&B; Pop; Rock; Progressive rock|
|Occupations||Singer; songwriter; record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals; Guitar; Double bass|
|Labels||Riviera, CBS, WEA, Vogue, Fnac Music, Barclay|
Nino Agostino Arturo Maria Ferrari, known as Nino Ferrer (1934–1998) was an Italian-French singer, author and songwriter.
Biography and career
Nino Ferrer was born on 18 August 1934 in Genoa, Italy, but lived the first years of his life in New Caledonia, where his father, an engineer, was working. Back in France, from 1947, the young Nino studied Ethnology and Archaeology in the Sorbonne university, also pursuing his interest in music and painting.
Ferrer after completing his studies, started traveling the world, working on a freighter ship. After returning to France, he immersed himself in music, and in 1959 appeared on a recording for the first time, playing bass on two 45 singles by the Dixie Cats.
In 1963, Nino Ferrer recorded his own first record, the single "Pour oublier qu'on s'est aimé" ("To forget we were in love"). His first success came in 1965 with the song "Mirza". Other hits, such as "Cornichons" and "Oh! hé! hein! bon!" followed, establishing Ferrer as something of a comedic singer. The stereotyping and his eventual huge success made him feel "trapped", and unable to escape from the constant demands of huge audiences to hear the hits he himself despised. He started leading a life of "wine, women and song" while giving endless provocative performances in theatres, on television and on tour.
Ferrer rebelled against the "gaudy frivolity" of French show business, filled with what he perceived as its "cynical technocrats and greedy exploiters of talent." He was mocking life's absurdity in his lesser-known songs, which the public largely ignored. He agreed with Serge Gainsbourg and Claude Nougaro that songs are a "minor art" and "just background noise".
He decided to quit show business altogether in 1967, leaving France and moving to Italy. In 1970, he returned to France and resumed his musical career. In 1975 he started breeding horses in Quercy, France. In 1989, Ferrer obtained French citizenship, which he explained as his "celebration of the bicentenary of the French Revolution." He went on to record the French national anthem, accompanied by a choir.
A couple of months after his mother died, Ferrer, on the 13th of August 1998, two days before his 64th birthday, took his hunting gun and walked to a field of wheat, recently cut, near the neighbouring village of Saint-Cyprien. There, he lay down in a grove nearby and shot himself in the chest. His wife Kinou, with whom he had two sons, had already alerted the gendarmerie after finding a farewell letter in the house. Next day, there were front-page headlines in most French and Italian newspapers, such as "Adieu Nino!", "Nino Ferrer Hung Up His Telephone", "Our Nino Has Left for the South." They called him the Don Quixote and the Corto Maltese of French show business.
- 1966: Enregistrement public
- 1967: Nino Ferrer
- 1969: Nino Ferrer
- 1972: Métronomie
- 1972: Nino Ferrer and Leggs
- 1974: Nino and Radiah
- 1975: Suite en œuf
- 1977: Véritables variétés verdâtres
- 1979: Blanat
- 1981: La carmencita
- 1982: Ex-libris
- 1983: Rock n'roll cow-boy
- 1986: 13e album
- 1993: La désabusion
- 1993: La vie chez les automobiles
- 1970: Rats and Rolls
- 1995: Concert chez Harry
- Christophe Conte and Joseph Ghosn, Nino Ferrer. Du Noir au Sud., Editions no. 1, 2005.
- Frank Maubert, La mélancolie de Nino, Éditions Scali, 2006.
- Henry Chartier, Nino Ferrer: c'est irréparable, Éditions Le Bord de l'eau, 2007.