Italy remembers Rino Gaetano 40 years after his death

Rino Gaetano died in Rome aged 30 on 2 June 1981.

Italy remembers the great singer-songwriter Rino Gaetano on the 40th anniversary of his untimely death with several important cultural initiatives on 2 June.

Each year on this date a festival known as Rino Gaetano Day takes place, centred around a concert organised by Anna and Alessandro Gaetano, Rino's sister and nephew.

Normally performed in front of a live audience in the Rome district of Montesacro, for the last two years the tribute concert has moved online due to covid-19.

Rino Gaetano Day

This year the 11th edition of the event, #rinogaetanoday2021, will be broadcast on 2 June at 18.30 in live streaming on the Facebook page "Rino Gaetano Band" and on their Youtube channel. The event will also be aired on Radio Italia Anni 60 Roma FM 100.5.

Italy will mark the 40th anniversary of Gaetano's death by releasing a stamp in his honour, part of the "Italian Excellence" series.

The stamp feature the musician's smiling face in his trademark top hat against the background of a blue sky, a reference to one of his greatest hits Ma il cielo è sempre più blu (But the sky is always bluer).

Also on 2 June a new concert arena in Rome's Parco delle Valli will be named after Gaetano while fans can look forward to the release of a special box set of the singer's work, Istantanee e Tabù, on 25 June.

Four decades after his death, Gaetano and his music remain hugely popular in Italy.

Who was Rino Gaetano?

Salvatore Antonio Gaetano was born in the southern Calabria region in 1950 before moving aged 10 to Rome where he would live the rest of his short life.

He made his musical breakthrough in 1975 with Ma il cielo è sempre più blu, a jaunty song about everyday life, littered with irony, clichés and contradictions.

Satirical lyrics

Gaetano soon became known for his satirical songs, which took aim at politicians and supported social protests, all sung in a rough, powerful voice.

Rino Gaetano (1950-1981)

His lyrics often landed him trouble, notably with the 1976 song Nuntereggae più, which originally cited prime minister Aldo Moro (before his kidnapping) and journalist Indro Montanelli, whose names were deleted to avoid controversy.

Critical success

Success continued for Gaetano with his second album, Mio fratello è figlio unico (My Brother is an Only Child) in 1976, and his third album the following year, Aida, which featured the hit of the same name.

Noted for its originality, the song is Gaetano's ode to Italy and its history, told through the figure of Aida.

In 1980 Gaetano recorded his final album E io ci sto, marked by a serious tone and rock sound, whose title track he sang during his last television appearance on 31 May 1981.

Death

Two days later, in the early hours of 2 June, Festa della Repubblica, Gaetano was driving home alone along Rome's Via Nomentana where he collided with a van at the intersection of Viale XXI Aprile, dying of his injuries a few hours later.

Rino Gaetano is buried in city's Verano cemetery and his tombstone reads: Ma il cielo è sempre più blu.