Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16

Today's undercelebrated celebrity is that soft-rock Samson, Gino Vannelli. He's an Italian-Canadian that hit the charts on the 70's/80's border, with songs like "People Gotta Move", "I Just Wanna Stop", and "Living Inside Myself". If you had a dentist appointment in the 80's, you heard this song:

So, how the heck did Michael Bolton steal this guy's career? It wasn't the U.S. music industry that turned its back on Vannelli; Vannelli turned his back on the chart machine. When he signed with A&M in the 70's, he was a 21-year old genius singer/songwriter, using his three-octave vocal range and his brother's experimentation with a new technology called the synthesizer to take over the charts and make his TV debut on the most un-Canadian of TV programs, Soul Train. When his record label wanted a disco album, he jumped labels, held fast to his yacht rock-ish sound, and went higher up the charts. He even did the theme for a James Bond film:

He kept label hopping through the 80's, which may account for his lack of traction. Although he was still making signature 80's music, Vanelli was finding more success in Canada and Europe. By the end of the decade, he was married, touring the world, and giving up on the music industry almost entirely.
Since then, he's been walking his own path: starting his own label in the 90's, recording jazz albums, then operatic albums that got him invited to perform for the Pope...
He still has a North American following, enough for a series of sold-out Katrina benefits and a blockbuster Vegas run a few years back.

Apparently, he's still taking second billing to his hair, too...

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