Peppino Di Capri

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Affectionately known as “the Italian Buddy Holly,” Peppino di Capri helped to usher Italy into the rock & roll era of the 1950s. Averaging ten singles a year for a decade, he and his band, Peppino & His Rockers, scored with such pre-Beatles hits as “Malatia,” “Voce ’e Notte,” “Luba Caprese,” “Vicino ’o Mare,” “Parlami D’amore Mariu,” and “Speedy Gonzalez.” He introduced the twist with his early-’60s hit, “St. Tropez Twist.” During the summer of 1965, he toured Italy as opening act for the Beatles. Although he suffered a career lull in the late ’60s, di Capri was not gone from the spotlight for long. Launching his comeback with crowd-pleasing performances at Canzonissima ’70 and the Festival of Naples in 1970, he capped it off with his best-selling single, “Champagne,” in 1974. The winner of the song competition at the Festival of San Remo in 1973 and 1976, di Capri was a constant presence at the event in many years to follow. In January 1996, he toured Italy with guitarist Fred Bongusto. The son of a musical instrument seller and record shop owner, di Capri displayed musical talent at an extremely young age. Playing piano by the age of four, he spent much of his childhood playing for American soldiers stationed in Naples. His early repertoire was comprised of American tunes; he added modern interpretations of classic Neapolitan songs to the material that he played with the band he had formed with four friends, di Capri increasingly drew attention to his music. Performing on RAI (Italian television) show First Applause, he and the group premiered their version of Johnny Ray’s heartbreaker, “Cry.” ~ Craig Harris