RICCHI E POVERI
The band, before turning into a trio and eventually a duo, was born as a polyphonic quartet, with two male and two female voices. In the original line-up, three out of four members came from Genoa. The original members were: Franco Gatti (Genoa, October 4, 1942), Angela Brambati (Genoa, October 20, 1947), Marina Occhiena (Genoa, March 19, 1950) and Angelo Sotgiu (Trinità d’Agultu, February 22, 1946), who was born in Sardinia and had moved to Genoa when he was sixteen months old. The quartet stood out for its peculiar vocal style, based on the weave of four different voices: a bass, a tenor, a contralto and a soprano. Their formula was a mix of Italian melodic pop music with harmonizations inspired by the USA bands of the time.
FROM THE JETS TO RICCHI E POVERI
In 1963 Angelo and Franco joined the Jets, a Genoese music band which aimed to sing a less commercial repertoire than the other local bands. One night they met Angela, who was the singer of the beat band I Preistorici, and they are fascinated with her charisma, dubbing her “the Genoese Rita Pavone”.
Both groups disbanded after a few years, so the idea was born of forming a new band composed by Angela, Angelo, Franco and Marina, a friend of Angela, met in a singing school. The quartet took up the name Fama Medium and started performing in some clubs of the Genoese seafront. They were so successful they decided to devote completely to music.
After rehearsing for some months, Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André, the first to believe in the band, set up an audition for them at a record label in Milan. The audition wasn’t successful, but De André assured them: «These people don’t understand anything about music, but you will make it!».
At the end of 1967, they came back to Milan for a new audition at a record label whose artistic director was Franco Califano. His enthusiasm was such he decided to become the band’s producer and, after creating a new look with a male haircut for Angela and bleached hair for Angelo and Marina, he told them: «You’re rich in ideas and poor in money». From this sentence, their name was born: Ricchi e Poveri (The Rich and Poor).
THE SEVENTIES, MUSIC AND MORE…
During the Seventies, Ricchi e Poveri experimented other artistic areas: from television to theatre, to advertising with the Fiesta Snack ad of 1972 and the Recoaro ad of 1977. In 1971 they acted in the Rai music comedy by Garinei and Giovannini “Mai il sabato, signora Lisistrata”, with an exceptional cast featuring Gino Bramieri, Milva, Bice Valori, Paolo Panelli, Carlo Giuffré and Gabriella Farinon. They received the Maschera d’Argento prize as the best theatrical debutants.
In 1974 they took part to “Teatro Music Hall”, a traveling show by Pippo Baudo, who chose “Penso, sorrido e canto”. That year they also took part to a TV operetta, “No, no, Nanette”, directed by Garinei and Giovannini and featuring choreographies by Don Lurio. They also started collaborating with Walter Chiari in the show “Chiari di luna” (1974) and the theatrical tour “Chi vuol esser lieto sia” which won the Biglietto d’Oro prize for the number of encores in 1976.
THE EIGHTIES, FROM SUCCES TO SUCCESS…
In 1981 Marina Occhiena left the band to focus on a solo career. Despite the defection, Ricchi e Poveri remained together and took part to the 31st edition of the Festival di Sanremo with “Sarà perché ti amo”, which would remain on top of the Italian hit parade for eight months, even though it only reached fifth place in the Festival. The song would be an international best-seller, dominating the charts in Belgium, France, Austria, Germany and Spain. It would be the best-selling single of the year, selling 7 million copies.
The success would continue with the album “Mamma Maria”, among the best-selling records in Europe in 1982. The single “Come vorrei”remained in the top ten for five months, becoming the theme of the TV show Portobello, hosted by Enzo Tortora. 1982 was also the year of the hit “Made in Italy”, while in 1983 saw “Voulez vous danser” reaching number one in the charts and winning the prize as the Italian best-selling song in Europe.
Ricchi e Poveri also took part to the 1981 Festivalbar with “M’innamoro di te”, won two editions of the show Premiatissima (1982 and 1985) and won the prize as best band of the year 1984 for the show Vota la voce. In 1987 they were third at Un disco per l’estate, performing the songs “Coccobello Africa”, “C’è che luna, c’è che mare” and “Lascia libero il cielo”.
1985 was the year of the definitive Sanremo consecration: Ricchi e Poveri won the Festival with the song “Se m’innamoro”, also winning the silver Telegatto and a Platinum Disc. They would take part to the festival again in 1987 with “Canzone d’amore” (written by Toto Cutugno), in 1988 with the Umberto Balsamo song “Nascerà Gesù” and in 1989 with “Chi voglio sei tu”.
Their popularity increased exponentially on the international scene: at the beginning of the Eighties the band reached the Soviet market, publishing some flexi-discs which would be sold at newsagents’ stores. In 1983 they would be invited at the International Song Festival of Viña del Mar (Chile) and in 1984 at the Atlantic Festival in Spain, where they performed the song “Sei la sola che amo”. An Australian tour would follow, along with a highly successful Soviet tour: 44 sold-out dates gathering 780 thousand spectators. In May 1988 the band would play in front of a sold-out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
FROM 1990 ON…
In 1990 Ricchi e Poveri took part to the Festival di Sanremo with the song “Buona giornata”, performing with the Brazilian artist Jorge Ben Jor, while in 1992 they took a song written by Toto Cutugno, “Così lontani”, to the Festival for the second time. “Buona giornata” would become the theme of the Domenica In season hosted by the band. In 1992 they also performed “Dicitincello vuje”, a theme for the TV series “Renzo e Lucia”, while the following year they hosted the show “Domenica a casa vostra” and took part with Davide Mengacci, Sandra Milo, Andrea Roncato and Orietta Berti to “La vera storia della donna del mistero”, a musical parody of a popular soap opera of the time.
Between 1994 and 1998 they went through successful Italian and international tours and television appearances in France, Germany, Belgium, Moldova, Georgia, Lithuania, Australia, Spain, Albania, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Canada and the US.
2002 saw Ricchi e Poveri come back with a new album, “Parla col cuore”, featuring six unreleased tracks. Two years later they took part to the first edition of Music Farm, the first Italian reality show dedicated to music, reaching the third place. In 2012 they released “Perdutamente amore”, featuring some of the band’s classics along with four unreleased tracks. In 2013 they were awarded with the career prize “Città di Sanremo”.
In 2016 Franco Gatti left the band to spend more time with his family, while Angelo and Angela decided to keep their musical career: «We stay on stage, because this is our life!»