Toto Cutugno

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Toto Cutugno
Cutugno in 1980
Cutugno in 1980
Background information
Birth nameSalvatore Cutugno
Born(1943-07-07)7 July 1943
Fosdinovo, Tuscany, Kingdom of Italy
Died22 August 2023(2023-08-22) (aged 80)
Milan, Lombardy, Italy
  • Singer-songwriter
  • instrumentalist
  • television presenter
  • Piano
  • acoustic guitar
  • drums
  • saxophone
  • melodica
Years active1966–2023

Salvatore "Toto" Cutugno (Italian: [ˈtɔːto kuˈtuɲɲo]; 7 July 1943 – 22 August 2023) was an Italian pop singer-songwriter, musician, and television presenter. He was best known for his worldwide hit song, "L'Italiano", released on his 1983 album of the same title. Cutugno also won the Eurovision Song Contest 1990 held in Zagreb, SFR Yugoslavia, with the song "Insieme: 1992", for which he wrote both the lyrics and music. He has been described as "one of the most popular singers in Italy and a symbol of Italian melody abroad",[1] as well as "one of the most popular Italian performers on a global scale" and "one of the most successful Italian songwriters of all time",[2] selling over 100 million records worldwide.[1][3]

Early life[edit]

Toto Cutugno was born on 7 July 1943[4] in Tendola,[5] a borough of Fosdinovo, Lunigiana, Tuscany, to a Sicilian sea marshal father from Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto and a housewife mother from Tuscany.[4][6] Shortly after his birth the family moved to the nearby city of La Spezia, Liguria.[7]


Cutugno began his musical career as a drummer, and at 19 he founded his first band, Toto e i Tati.[4] He later formed the disco band Albatros together with Lino Losito and Mario Limongelli.[4] He also started a career as a songwriter, contributing some of French-American singer Joe Dassin most well-known songs such as "L'été indien", "Et si tu n'existais pas", and "Le Jardin du Luxembourg" (written with Vito Pallavicini).[4][8] He also co-wrote Dalida's "Monday Tuesday... Laissez moi danser" ("Voglio l'anima" in its Italian version), which achieved Platinum record status shortly after being released, as well as songs for Johnny Hallyday, Mireille Mathieu, Ornella Vanoni, Domenico Modugno, Claude François, Gigliola Cinquetti, Gérard Lenorman, Michel Sardou, Hervé Vilard, and Paul Mauriat.[1][4]

In 1976, Albatros participated for the first time in the Sanremo Music Festival finishing in third place with the song "Volo AZ 504". Following another chart success with the song "Santamaria de Portugal", in 1978 Cutugno left Albatros to concentrate on his solo career.[4] The same year he had his first solo hit with "Donna donna mia", the opening song of the Mike Bongiorno's RAI TV show Scommettiamo?.[1] In 1979, he wrote Adriano Celentano's number one hit "Soli".[4]

Cutugno in 1976

In 1980, Cutugno returned to the Sanremo Music Festival and won the competition with the song "Solo noi" ("Only us").[4][9] However, Cutugno's affiliation with the festival is mostly remembered for "L'Italiano" ("The Italian"), a song he presented in 1983. Originally intended for Adriano Celentano – who declined to sing it because, despite liking the song, he did not feel comfortable singing the refrain sono un italiano vero ("I am a true Italian")[10] – "L'Italiano"'s recapitulation of some of Italy's most popular social traits made the song very popular with Italian expats. Although the song finished only fifth in Sanremo, it went on to become Cutugno's biggest international hit.[4] Cutugno would finish second in six more editions of the Sanremo festival: in 1984 with the song "Serenata" ("Serenade"); in 1987 with "Figli" ("Children"); in 1988 with "Emozioni" ("Emotions"); in 1989 with the song "Le mamme" ("Mothers"); in 1990 with the song "Gli amori" ("Loves", but entitled "Good Love Gone Bad" in Ray Charles's version); and in 2005 with Annalisa Minetti with the song "Come noi nessuno al mondo" ("No one else in the world like us"); a record which would lead him to be nicknamed "the eternal second" (l'eterno secondo).[2][9] Cutugno shares the record for the highest number of participations in the festival – 15, namely in 1976, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2008, and 2010; one of only five artists (as of 2023), the others being Al Bano, Anna Oxa, Milva and Peppino di Capri.[11] In 2013, Cutugno was awarded a lifetime career award at the Sanremo Festival.[12]

As a songwriter, during the 1980s Cutugno composed hit songs for numerous artists, notably Miguel Bosé (the Festivalbar winning song "Super Superman"), Adriano Celentano ("Il tempo se ne va"), Luis Miguel ("Ragazzi di oggi"), Fausto Leali ("Io amo"), Peppino di Capri ("Il sognatore"), Ricchi e Poveri ("Canzone d'amore"), Fiordaliso ("Per noi" and "Se non avessi te").[4][9] Starting from 1987, when he co-hosted with Lino Banfi the Sunday television show Domenica in, Cutugno also had a successful career as a television presenter.[13]

In 1990, at the refusal of Sanremo winners Pooh, Cutugno, who had placed second, was invited to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest in Zagreb.[14] He went on to win the contest with his own original composition "Insieme: 1992" ("Together: 1992"), a ballad which celebrated European political integration and the establishment of the European Union.[9] Aged 46 years, 302 days, Cutugno became the oldest winner of the contest to date, surpassing the record set by André Claveau in 1958. Cutugno's record stood until 2000, when the Olsen Brothers won the contest.[15] Along with Gigliola Cinquetti, Italy's earlier Eurovision winner, he presented the 1991 contest, which was staged in Rome as a result of his victory.[9] Italy would only win again with Måneskin in 2021.[16]

Cutugno in 2013

In 2014, he was the main subject of a Facebook page, La stessa foto di Toto Cutugno ogni giorno (lit. "The same photo of Toto Cutugno every day"), which in a short time became an internet phenomenon, attracting thousands of likes, sharings and comments; the case eventually became the subject of a study of the Institute for Advanced Study in Pavia.[17][18] In 2016, he returned to collaborate with Adriano Celentano, co-writing the song "Ti lascio amore" for the Mina–Celentano album Le migliori.[19]

Outside of Italy, Cutugno often toured in the United States, regularly performing in New York City and Atlantic City; he also toured Australia three times, represented by Italo-Australian impresario Duane Zigliotto. Countries where he was very popular include Germany, Spain, Romania, Turkey and Russia,[2] where in 2013 he performed "L'Italiano" accompanied by the Red Army Choir.[20] In March 2019, a group of politicians from the Ukrainian Parliament tried to stop Cutugno from performing in Kyiv, demanding through an open letter to the head of the country's security services, Vasyl Hrytsak, to ban the singer from entering Ukrainian territory, labelling him as "a Russian war supporter in Ukraine" – probably because of his success in Russia and his relationship with the Red Army Choir.[21] Two days before, fellow Italian singer Al Bano had been blacklisted on the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets.[22] Cutugno rejected the accusations, describing himself as apolitical and highlighting how he had refused to perform in Crimea following its 2014 Russian occupation.[23] Despite the controversy, the concert was eventually held in Kyiv on 23 March.[24] The same year, Cutugno had his last significant television role as one of the coaches in the musical show Ora o mai più [it].[25] In August of that same year, he made one of his last live performances, as a guest in Jovanotti's Jova Beach Tour.[26]

Personal life and death[edit]

When he was five, Cutugno witnessed the death of his seven-year-old sister Anna, who choked on a gnocchi. His other siblings included Roberto and Rosanna (the first child to receive heart surgery in Italy, in Turin).[5][27]

Cutugno was married to Carla from 1971 until his death.[5] In 1990, he had a son from an extramarital relationship.[5][27]

In 2007, Cutugno was diagnosed with prostate cancer with metastases reaching his kidneys, undergoing surgery and having his right kidney removed. He regarded his colleague Al Bano as the one who helped him to discover the cancer in time and who assisted him in the situation.[28]

Cutugno died from prostate cancer at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, on 22 August 2023, aged 80.[1]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Come ieri, come oggi, come sempre (1978)[29]
  • Voglio l'anima (1979)[29]
  • Innamorata, innamorato, innamorati (1980)[29]
  • La mia musica (1982)[29]
  • L'Italiano (1983)[29][30]
  • Per amore o per gioco (1985)[29]
  • Azzurra malinconia (1986)[29]
  • Mediterraneo (1987)[29]
  • Toto Cutugno (1990)[29]
  • Insieme: 1992 (1990)[31]
  • Non è facile essere uomini (1991)[29]
  • Voglio andare a vivere in campagna (1995)[29]
  • Canzoni nascoste (1997)[29]
  • Il treno va (2002)[32]
  • Cantando (2004)[33]
  • Come noi nessuno al mondo (2005)[34]
  • Un falco chiuso in gabbia (2008)[35]

With Albatros[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "È morto Toto Cutugno. Aveva appena compiuto 80 anni". Rai News (in Italian). RAI. 22 August 2023. Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Iconic Italian Singer-Songwriter Toto Cutugno Dies at 80". La Voce di New York. 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  3. ^ Assante, Ernesto (22 August 2023). "Toto Cutugno, un italiano vero". la Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Assante, Ernesto (1990). "Cutugno, Toto". In Castaldo, Gino (ed.). Dizionario della canzone italiana (in Italian). Curcio Editore. pp. 460–461.
  5. ^ a b c d "La moglie Carla, il figlio Nico, il dramma della sorellina morta a 7 anni". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 22 August 2023. Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Toto Cutugno. Un italiano fiero". 14 June 2017. Archived from the original on 29 April 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  7. ^ Rissetto, Stefano (22 August 2023). "Addio a Toto Cutugno, 'Italiano vero' partito dalla Spezia per conquistare il mondo". Telenord (in Italian). Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  8. ^ Toto Cutugno at AllMusic
  9. ^ a b c d e Anselmi, Eddy (2009). "Toto Cutugno". Festival di Sanremo: almanacco illustrato della canzone italiana. Panini Comics. p. 661. ISBN 978-8863462296.
  10. ^ Fagnani, Giovanna Maria (22 August 2023). "Celentano: «Aveva fatto "L'Italiano" per me. Gli dissi di no e feci una c... mondiale". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  11. ^ Adessi, Antonio (25 August 2023). "Sanremo 2024: Amadeus annuncia un omaggio a Toto Cutugno". Eurofestival News (in Italian). Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  12. ^ Oltermann, Philip (22 August 2023). "Toto Cutugno whose song L'Italiano was No 1 across Europe dies at 80". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  13. ^ Grasso, Aldo; Scaglioni, Massimo (1996–2003). "Cutugno, Toto". Enciclopedia della Televisione (in Italian). Garzanti. p. 174. ISBN 881150466X.
  14. ^ Rossini, Federico (22 August 2023). "Addio a Toto Cutugno. Vinse Eurovision 1990 e Sanremo 1980, con 'L'Italiano' conquistò il mondo". Eurofestival News (in Italian). Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  15. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy (2015). The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official Celebration. Carlton Books. pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-1-78097-638-9.
  16. ^ Fredella, Francesco (22 August 2023). "Il mondo della musica è il lutto, è morto Toto Cutugno". RTL 102.5 (in Italian). Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  17. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (26 October 2021). "The curious case of the Facebook page that posts the same thing every day". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  18. ^ "The Facebook Page That Posts the Same Picture Every Day". MIT Technology Review. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  19. ^ Arcidiacono, Eugenio (11 November 2016). "Mina-Celentano, il nuovo album canzone per canzone". Famiglia Cristiana. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  20. ^ redazione (26 December 2016). "Toto Cutugno: sconvolto dalla tragedia del Coro dell'Armata Rossa. Dovevo essere con loro". FarodiRoma (in Italian). Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  21. ^ "Perché Toto Cutugno era diventato così famoso in Russia e nell'Est Europa". Music Fanpage (in Italian). 23 August 2023. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  22. ^ "L'Ucraina mette al bando Al Bano: una 'minaccia per la sicurezza nazionale'". 11 March 2019. Archived from the original on 24 October 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  23. ^ "Toto Cutugno e l'Ucraina: "Deluso e arrabbiato: da 'Uomo dell'anno' a persona non grata"". 15 March 2019. Archived from the original on 11 July 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  24. ^ "Ucraina, tensione al concerto di Toto Cutugno a Kiev". ANSA. 24 March 2019. Archived from the original on 30 April 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  25. ^ "È morto Toto Cutugno". Rolling Stone Italia (in Italian). 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  26. ^ Balì, Ilario (22 August 2023). "Toto Cutugno e i suoi inizi a Roccella Jonica. "Qui i miei primi soldi, vi porto nel cuore"". Il Reggino (in Italian). Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  27. ^ a b "Toto Cutugno sulla moglie Carla: 'Mi ha perdonato il tradimento'". Metropolitan Magazine (in Italian). 6 July 2023. Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  28. ^ "Toto Cutugno come è morto? Il tumore alla prostata (con le metastasi fino ai reni) scoperto grazie ad Al Bano". Il Mattino (in Italian). 22 August 2023. Archived from the original on 22 August 2023. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Monti, Giangilberto; Di Pietro, Veronica (2003). Dizionario dei cantautori (in Italian). Garzanti. p. 146. ISBN 978-88-11-74035-3.
  30. ^ San Remo Song Festival 1983 Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine (in Italian)
  31. ^ "Top 3 Singles in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 7, no. 35. 8 September 1990. p. VII. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved 3 September 2021 – via World Radio History.
  32. ^ "Toto Cutugno - Il Treno Va". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  33. ^ "Toto Cutugno - Cantando". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  34. ^ "Toto Cutugno - Come Noi Nessuno al Mondo". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 1 October 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2023.
  35. ^ "Toto Cutugno - Un Falco Chiuso in Gabbia". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2023.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mino Vergnaghi
with "Amare"
Sanremo Music Festival

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Riva
with "Rock Me"
Winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Preceded by Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Preceded by Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Gigliola Cinquetti)
Succeeded by