Peter Van Wood

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Peter Van Wood
Birth name Peter van Houten
Born (1927-09-19)19 September 1927
The Hague, Netherlands
Died 10 March 2010(2010-03-10) (aged 82)
Rome, Italy
Genres Jazz, rock and roll
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, astrologer, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1946–2010
Labels Pathé, Fonit, Philips
Associated acts Renato Carosone

Peter Van Wood (19 September 1927, The Hague, Netherlands – 10 March 2010, Rome, Italy), was a Dutch guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor and astrologer.[1][2]


Peter Van Wood was born as Peter van Houten in The Hague. He began playing guitar when he was fourteen years old, and studied at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. At the same time he started listening to great jazz guitar players and began playing in small groups in and around the Netherlands.

He was among the first to use the electric guitar with special effects such as echo and reverb. In 1946 he performed at the London Palladium and in 1947 and 1948 he toured all over the world, including concerts at the Olympia theatre in Paris and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.[1]

About this time he acquired his signature guitar, a custom Gretsch White Falcon; this was allegedly a personal gift or "endorsement" from Fred Gretsch, and was humorously dubbed by an Italian TV host "the Texan milkman's guitar".

In 1949 he moved to Italy. After a series of concerts and shows in Naples, he was contacted by pianist and singer Renato Carosone, who was asked to put together a group for a club's opening night, and the Trio Carosone, with Gennaro "Gegè" Di Giacomo on drums, was formed. The trio recorded several albums for the Pathé record label, and then became a quartet with the Hungarian Romani musician Elek Bacsik on bass, guitar and violin.[3]

In 1954 Van Wood left the Trio Carosone in order to devote himself to his solo career.[3] He formed a quartet, which signed for Fonit and released many successful records.[1]

Van Wood's most famous song is "Butta la chiave", which prominently features an apparent 'dialogue' between the lyrics he sings and the responses of his "singing" guitar, mimicking the negative responses of a wife who is refusing to let her husband back into their house. It is unclear whether he made use of a rudimentary wah-wah pedal, a "singin' guitar" device like Alvino Rey, or simply a vibrato-bar to achieve that effect, which astonished Italian audiences with its novelty. His other well-known songs include "Via Montenapoleone", a song about one of the most renowned streets of Milan, "Tre numeri al lotto", "Mia cara Carolina" and "Capriccio".[1]

In the 1960s he decided to dedicate himself to astrology, and started to contribute horoscopes to various Italian newspapers and magazines while continuing to make recordings. He also opened a nightclub, Amsterdam 19, in Galleria Passarella in Milan (to which city he had moved from Naples), where he often performed as a singer and guitarist.

In 1974 he recorded an instrumental album, Guitar Magic, for Vedette Phase-6 record label, which highlighted his skills as a guitarist.

In 1982 Van Wood recorded the theme song of the Italian television show La Domenica Sportiva.

He came again to prominence on Italian television when he took part in the football show Quelli che... il Calcio, presented by Fabio Fazio.

After this he often appeared as a guest on RAI television shows, offering his skills in his lifelong passion, astrology.

In October 2007 he sued Coldplay for one million euros, claiming that the song "Clocks" plagiarised his song "Caviar and Champagne".[4]

Peter Van Wood died on 10 March 2010 at the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome after a long illness.[4][5][6]


With the Trio Carosone[edit]

Year Title Additional information
1951 "Oh! Susanna" / "Scalinatella" Released on 11 January by Pathé (MG 13) 78 rpm
1952 "Oh! Susanna" / "Scalinatella" Released on January by Pathé (MG 102) 78 rpm
"Tre numeri al lotto (i pappagalli)" / "Oh! Susanna" Released by Pathé (MG 157) 78 rpm

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Additional information
1954 Van Wood Quartet Fonit (LP 143)
1955 L'olandese napoletano Fonit (LP 146)
L'olandese volante Fonit (LP 148)
1956 Van Wood Quartet Fonit (LP 170)
Restiamo in casa stasera con Van Wood Fonit (LP 180)
Intorno al mondo con Van Wood Fonit (LP 181)
1963 Van Wood Electrecord (EDD 1085)
1974 Guitar Magic Vedette–Phase 6 (VPAS 911)
1981 Sotto il segno di Van Wood RCA Linea Tre (NL 33176)


Year Album Additional information
1955 Van Wood Quartet n° 1 Fonit (EP 4040)
1956 Van Wood Quartet n° 8 Fonit (EP 4066)
Van Wood Quartet n° 9 Fonit (EP 4067)
1958 Van Wood Quartet Fonit (EP 4305)


Year Title Additional information
1956 "Il telefono" / "I Pesciolini" Fonit (15075) 78 rpm
1956 "Ciao (Oho-Aha)" / "Baby bu" Fonit (15191) 78 rpm
1956 "Mia'cara Carolina" / "Fofo' piccolo fofo'" Fonit (15321) 78 rpm
1956 "Van Wood's rock" / "Due rane e un cane" Fonit (15475) 78 rpm
1957 "Gooi me de sleutel!!! (Butta la chiave)" / "Oh la la" Fonit (15650) 78 rpm
1958 "Tipitipitipso" / "Lucia, Luci" Philips (P 15531 H) 78 rpm
1982 "Una domenica sportiva" / "Vattene" Fonit (SP 1784)


Year Title Role Other notes
1956 Cantando sotto le stelle Directed by Marino Girolami[2][7]
1989 Night Club Himself Directed by Sergio Corbucci[2][8]

See also[edit]


  • Zampa, Fabrizio (1990). "Van Wood, Peter". In Castaldo, Gino. Dizionario della canzone italiana [Dictionary of the Italian song] (in Italian). Arbore, Renzo. Rome, Italy: Armando Curcio Editore. p. 1690. 


  1. ^ a b c d Zampa (1990). p. 1690.
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b Troiano, Francesco (10 March 2010). "Renato Carosone Biography". Italian Singer Songwriters (in Italian). ITALICA. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  4. ^ a b "Addio a Peter Van Wood chitarrista e astrologo" [Farewell to Peter Van Wood guitarist and astrologer]. Persone (in Italian). Rome, Italy: la 10 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  5. ^ "Addio a Peter Van Wood" [Goodbye Peter Van Wood]. Spettacolo > News (in Italian). Rome, Italy: 10 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  6. ^ "È morto Peter Van Wood, chitarrista e astrologo" [Guitarist and astrologer Peter Van Wood is dead] (XHTML) (in Italian). Wikinotizie. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links[edit]

  • "Peter Van Wood" (in Italian). Rome, Italy: RAI. March 2001. Retrieved 2010-03-12.