Renato Zero

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Renato Zero
Paoli Fazio Zero cropped.jpg
Renato Zero
Background information
Birth name Renato Fiacchini
Born (1950-09-30) 30 September 1950 (age 64)
Origin Rome, Italy
Genres Pop rock, Soul, Rock and roll
Years active 1965–present
Labels Zerolandia, Sony Music, Tattica
Website www.renatozero.it

Renato Zero is the stage name of Renato Fiacchini (born 30 September 1950), an Italian singer and actor whose career spans a full 6 decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s, with 40 million records sold, becoming one of the best-selling Italian recording artists.[1] Zero was born Renato Fiacchini in downtown Rome, in Via di Ripetta, next to the famed Via del Corso. He quit his studies early to devote himself to his true passion, the arts, more specifically playing music and singing - though initially with little success. From an early age, he would wear make-up and cross-dress. He replied to the criticisms he received (including the recurring insult Sei uno zero! - "You're a zero!") by taking on the pseudonym Renato Zero. He recorded his first songs in 1965: "Tu, sì", "Il deserto", "La solitudine", which were never issued. His first published single, "Non basta sai/In mezzo ai guai" (1967), sold a total of 20 copies and was quickly forgotten. He had several different jobs, including an appearance in an advertisement for ice-cream, work as a dancer in a TV show, playing and dancing in two musicals and a couple minor roles in two Fellini movies.

In the late 1960s/early 1970s Zero's career was given a boost by the glam-rock movement, from which he benefited with his sexual ambiguity and androgynous appearance. At the same time, this led him to being accused of emulating other celebrities like David Bowie and, in particular, Marc Bolan. In 1973 he issued his first LP, No! Mamma, no! (recorded live), but still with little success. The follow-up Invenzioni met the same fate.

Birth of the "Zeromania"[edit]

It was not until 1976 that he scored his first hit with the single "Madame", a collaboration with songwriter Franca Evangelisti and composer Piero Pintucci, with whom Zero continued to work in the years that followed. "Madame" and the album including it, Trapezio, established a regular and loyal audience for Zero. This was to increase exponentially in the following years, until he could boast a huge following of die-hard fans that he dubbed Sorcini ("Little Mice"). His greatest hits at the time, all of them topping and breaking the Italian charts for quite some time, were lurid, only partly veiled recounts of extreme life in the sex-crazed 1970s: "Mi vendo" (a transvestite hooker's anthem), "Il triangolo" (a threesome's tale), and "SessoOEsse" (S.O.S. spelled like "Sex-or-S"), all set to a Bee Gees-like disco beat that was trendy at the time, were, and still are, really popular in Italy, and were among all disco clubs playlists. He also became friends at the time with French chanteuse and disco-queen Amanda Lear,Gay French icon.

The late 1970s were indeed years of great success for Zero's character, with the LPs Zerofobia ("Zerophobia", 1977), Zerolandia (1978) and Erozero (1979) topping the Italian charts. At this time Renato Zero was amongst the two or three most popular singers in Italy and his song "Il Carrozzone" was already regarded, also by critics, as one of the best Italian songs ever.

The name Zerolandia referred also to the moving theatre (a circus tent with a capacity of 5,000) in which he gave shows throughout Italy. On numerous occasions fans would participate in the gigs, made-up like Zero and dressed in his typical bird-like and strass-decorated costumes.

In 1979 Zero played as himself in the movie Ciao Nì (his usual greeting to his fans, which is a term of endearment that can be roughly translated as "hi dear!"). In Italy this film grossed more than the American blockbuster Superman.

The 1980s: career dip[edit]

In the 1980s he began to abandon make-up and greasepaint, but this did not rid Zero of his mania for grandeur: in the 1980 tour, for example, he entered the scene riding a white horse. In 1982 he began a collaboration with the opera director Renato Serio, who was to write the string arrangements for almost all of Zero's following LPs. In late 1983 he took part in RAI's Fantastico 3, then the most popular Italian TV show.

His career continued to be successful until 1984, with top-charts songs like "Amico" ("Friend") and "Spiagge" ("Beaches"). That year, however, his album Leoni si nasce and the tour of the same name, in which he appeared disguised as a lion and escorted by four aborigines, were commercial failures. The album Zero of 1987 marked the lowest point of his career: instead of playing in arenas and stadiums, Zero had to sing almost for free in the piazzas and discos of Italy's minor cities.

1990s: The comeback[edit]

In 1991 Renato Zero participated to the Sanremo Music Festival with "Spalle al muro", and from that moment on his career began to rise again. In 1993 he ranked #1 on the Italian charts with the LP Quando non sei più nessuno. The following year Imperfetto repeated this success. During his tour concerts would regularly sell out, and he returned to his famous dress changes during the spectacles, although in a more balanced style.

In the mid-90s Zero dubbed the character of Jack Skellington and sang the songs in the Italian release of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.[2]

In 1999, he sang at Pavarotti and Friends his hit song Il cielo together with tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and later the same year, Italian diva Mina paid him a tribute with her album Mina n° 0, containing nine Zero's songs, including one sung in duet with him.

2000s: the Emperor's Reign[edit]

In 2004 his tour "Cattura il sogno/Il sogno continua" (Catch the dream/The dream continues) was awarded from Pollstar magazine as the most successful of the year in Italy and as well as one of the most successful worldwide (#30). The recording of the Roman concerts, held at Olimpico Stadium in June, was the best sold musical DVD of 2004.

In 2005 he took part in the Italian staging of Live 8, in the Circo Massimo. In November his new album Il dono ("The Gift") topped the charts and maintained the #1 position until the end of the year. In December 2005 he performed in the Vatican with a song dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Renato Zero's 2006 tour was entitled Zero movimento and involved 25 concerts. After 40 years of his musical career, in February 2006 he refused the Career Award at the national Festival of San Remo, stating that the award should be for artists who had reached old age.

During some concerts held during campaign season for the April 2006 elections, he declared himself against (right-wing) former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In 2007 he toured again in major Italian cities, filling the biggest sports stadiums. The tour was called MpZerO, and attracted 270,000 spectators on 7 dates, of which 120,000 filled the Olympic Stadium of Rome, his hometown. He's often called the Emperor of Rome.

Presente, his 30th album, was released in Europe, South America and North America on 20 March 2009. It went multi-platinum in Italy, with 80,000 copies sold. Following the release of Presente, Renato toured again in autumn 2009; the "Zeronove tour" collected 30 sold-out dates and was the most successful gig of the year in Italy. On 10 December "Ancora qui", the first single from the album Presente, won the best Italian video of the year. In September 2010 Presente (CD edition + special CD+DVD edition) was certified by FIMI as the highest selling album in Italy during the 2009–2010 years. In 2012 Sei Zero was certified as the most sold DVD of 2011.

Zero's accomplishments[edit]

Renato Zero is still the only Italian artist to have reached the number one charts position of singles in 4 different decades (70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s). He had no fewer than 26 albums in the Top 10.

He likes to work with other artists, and wrote songs for numerous other singers as well. With his particular approach in performances, shows and tours, he is a leading live performer in his country and obtained a unique spot in the Italian musical scene. Throughout his career, Renato Zero has been a crusader against drug abuse. His grand force is regarded to be having shown the normality of the diverse, convincing the public that diversity feeds our human abilities to feel and act with love, respect, solidarity and faith.

Personal life[edit]

Zero has neither admitted nor denied being gay and he avoids the subject. The general consensus is that he is gay, albeit a conservative one, who fancies no outings and no public displays of it except in his art.

His image has changed through the decades, from the flamboyant, makeup-wearing transvestite of the mid-1970s, reminiscent of Marc Bolan or The Rocky Horror Picture Show 's Frank'n'Furter, to today's somber, blue-suit-clad icon of no specific gender and unspecified age, his only affectation a head of jet-black hair and a thin veil of foundation and lip gloss.

Discography, Videography[edit]

Album Year Peak Weeks Label Year end
chart
No! Mamma, No! 1973 - - RCA -
Invenzioni 1974 - - RCA -
Trapezio 1976 32 11 RCA -
Zerofobia 1977 16 57 RCA 24
Zerolandia 1978 3 35 Zerolandia/RCA 9
EroZero 1979 1 25 Zerolandia/RCA 7
Tregua 1980 1 26 Zerolandia/BMG 7
Icaro 1981 1 35 Zerolandia/BMG 4
Artide Antartide 1981 1 24 Zerolandia/BMG 1
Via Tagliamento 1965/1970 1982 1 21 Zerolandia/BMG 4
Calore 1983 1 20 Zerolandia/BMG 14
Leoni si nasce 1984 1 16 Zerolandia/BMG 36
Identikit 1984 14 7 Zerolandia/BMG 85
Soggetti smarriti 1986 2 22 Zerolandia/BMG 34
Zero 1987 13 17 Zerolandia/BMG 58
Voyeur 1989 5 21 Zerolandia/BMG 74
Prometeo 1991 3 20 Zerolandia/BMG 30
La coscienza di Zero 1991 5 8 RCA 70
Quando non sei più di nessuno 1993 1 23 Zerolandia/BMG 42
Passaporto per Fonopoli 1993 1 13 Zerolandia/BMG -
L'imperfetto 1994 1 23 Fonopoli/Sony 22
Sulle tracce dell'imperfetto 1995 2 21 Fonopoli/Sony 19
Amore dopo amore 1998 2 51 Fonopoli/Sony 2
Amore dopo amore Tour dopo tour 1999 1 34 Fonopoli/Sony 14
Tutti gli Zeri del mondo 2000 3 19 Fonopoli/Sony 53
La curva dell'angelo 2001 1 40 Tattica/Sony 10
Cattura 2003 1 53 Tattica/Sony 5
Figli del sogno CD 2004 2 39 Tattica/Sony 17
Figli del sogno DVD 2004 1 60 Tattica/Sony 1
Il dono 2005 1 35 Tattica/Sony 4
Renatissimo! 2006 3 34 Tattica/Sony 5
Zero40 DVD 2008 1 28 Universal 6
Presente 2009 1 89 Tattica 2
Zeronove tour DVD 2010 1 13 Tattica 14
Sei Zero DVD 2011 1 20 Tattica 1
Amo - Capitolo I 2013 1 Tattica/IndipendenteMente

References[edit]

External links[edit]