Saturday, 14 May 2011

USA 1964 & 1965

Rita Pavone is news at US Billboard magazine in mid-1963.
Rita in Pittisburgh-PA in 1964, with Italian-american DJ Sal Patitucci. 
Rita Pavone hugs Mr. Giovanni Pavone while her brother Carlo walks with Mother Maria at Caselle Airport in Turin - 1964.
Rita arrives in America!

This Billboard magazine of 25 January 1964 tells it all. Rita Pavone is seen next to power record producers Hugo & Luigi that were summoned to record the little Italian rocker in English for the US market. Hugo & Luigi had produced 'I will follow him' for Little Peggy March that went viral in the latter part of 1963. If Hugo & Luigi took a little known Italian-American to #1 why couldn't they do the same to an Italian native which had already conquered half Europe and was on the verge of becoming huge in South America too?

But time was moving fast. Have a look at the other side of the page: The Beatles were conquering America as no one had ever seen before. The so-called British Invasion was on its way while Rita Pavone was still recording material that could be released. In other words: the times had changed and Rita didn't stand a chance. Maybe that's why Hugo & Luigi dropped the plan and Rita had to come back to the USA later on in May 1964 to resume what she had started in January with  a different producer (Joe Rene).  

Rita introduces herself to a New York City cop... January 1964.

Billboard magazine full-page article about Rita Pavone in a May 1964 issue. Judging by its contents it is a mixture of journalism and RCA Victor's jargon for its treasure.

Rita sits at the lap of some statue at Central Park in New York while filming a promotional clip for 'Scrivi' her latest single to be released in Italy. 

I nominate for stardom: Rita Pavone! Make way for the greatest Italian discovery since Christopher Colombus landed in our shores. Rita Pavone is Europe's favourite far-out singer-actress, and I have the strong feeling she'll soon be the biggest-sensation-since-the-Beatles in this country, too! She's eighteen years old, freckled, dresses in the kookiest styles ever, and look out, America! Here comes Rita Pavone!


Though Rita’s got the world in a spin, she’s not allowed out on the town. She’s always accompanied by Mom and, as if that weren’t enough –also a chaperone!

There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very, very good and when she was bad – nobody ever heard about it, to paraphrase an old rhyme. The little girl [both in age – 18 – and in height – under five feet] we have reference to has never sung a horrid note, according to her manager, Teddy Reno, who discovered Rita Pavone at the Competition of the Unknowns in Ariccia, which is a hamlet outside of Rome. It was a competition she won hands down. Muses Reno, ‘Rita had long hair then.’

But now her face amounts to about that of a Beatle caught by an unfriendly barber – excep for that little curl, of course. And she likes it that way. When asked about it, she replied: ‘Si, divertente!’ Which freely translated means ‘different’, another similar appelation hung on the Beatles. But there the similarities stop.

Of course, Rita does wear pants, like the Beatles, but they are hardly of the Edwardian era. They are straight, dark-blue trousers, held up by brass-studded suspenders. Her blouse is light-blue, her boots [high-heeled, to show that she is, after all, a lady] are black, as is the beanie which tops her boyish bob.

But the most important thing about pal Pavone is her sound. In a business like the music business which is built on gimicks, Rita more than holds her own. One of the RCA Victor executives, which company holds her contract says of her, ‘She’s kind of a cross between Elvis Presley and Edith Piaf. In her first year making records, her sales passed the three million mark. Her first German-language record sold over 200,000 in less than two weeks! Now she’s cut an English-language single [‘Remember me’/’Just once more’] and a long-play, entitled, 'The International Teenage Sensation: Rita Pavone,’ and that’s selling like crazy. I tell you, there’s no stopping this girl!’

She wowed fans when she appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show three times, did very well in competing with the Dave Clark 5 and the aforementinoned Beatles. She almost caused riots in Boston when she went there to see the DJs and to sing for record hops, and the same thing happened in each of the fifteen cities which she and her mother and chaperone Mrs. Angelucci toured.

‘She’s a wonder,’ marvels Reno. ‘But, today, she is a little tired. She gave her all to the Eurovision TV show she taped. But that’s the way she does things – all or nothing – and maybe it’s the right way. There is no one around who can come near her in sound, no one who can touch her. She,’ and he winked happily, ‘is a real – what do you say a real winner! I don’t know how I got so lucky – discovering her, I mean. I am a professional talent-scout, but even professional talent-scouts get tired, and when the Competition of the Unknowns was scheduled, I almost didn’t go at all. As I say, I was tired – beat? – yes, beat. But I did go, and I did see her and tap her on the back for stardom. Our meeting at all – it must be destiny!’

It must be – and is – a regular goldmine, too, for Reno and for petite Pavone. The tiny, freckled-faced moppet used to earn $10 a week as an assistant seamstress in her native Turin. Now she makes $20,000 a week, and soon she’ll make that for one appearance!

There is only one, small problem. Rita can’t speak a word of English. She sings in English phonetically, just as she sang German and Spanish. And it is a bit difficult to interview a star of this brilliance when your every word is lost upon those shell-pink ears. Fortunately, Reno acts as her interpreter.

Through her interpreter we asked how it felt to be ‘an overnight sensation.’ Her reply came in loud Italian from her, in softer English from Reno: ‘What do you mean ‘overnight’? I have been singing since I was six years old!’

Asked to say something in English, she consulted her guide book and said: ‘You’re a gas!’

Who’s ‘rocking’ Pavone? Nothing could rock that dreamboat!

Article published in an American teen-age magazine in June 1964 at the height of Pavone’s tentative US onslaught.

A full-page ad in Billboard magazine - 1964

Rita reaches up to Ed Sullivan to tell him a secret...
Rita Pavone & her teen-ager idol Brenda Lee in Nashville, TN - 1965.

Rita Pavone singles released by RCA Victor in the U.S.A. 

47-8365 - Remember me / Just once more  
47-8420 - Wait for me / It's not easy (Non è facile avere 18 anni)
47-8538 - Eyes of mine (Occhi miei) / I don't wanna be hurt  
47-8612 - Right now / Oh my mama (Sei la mia mamma)   
47-9051 - Heart / The man who made music (Vila la pappa col pomodoro).

'Eyes of mine' (Occhi miei' b/w 'I don't want to be hurt' - single produced by Chet Atkins and recorded by Rita Pavone in Nashville- TN in 1965. N.B.: RCA blotched the Italian title wrongly writing 'Occi mici'. What a mouthful.

Rita Pavone albums released by RCA Victor in the U.S.A.

LSP-2900 - The International Teen-age Sensation 
LSP-2996 - Small Wonder 

This little fellow was released by German Polydor much later:

Till tomorrow / Try it and see - Polydor 15011

a North-American boy's opinion about an Italian singer called Rita Pavone

here's the link to his site:

Remember Rita Pavone? Something to the effect of a sixteen year old Italian teen sensation. She was on Ed Sullivan many times, or seemingly. How her tomboy, hobo image slotted in so nicely with the English Invasion’s mini skirted and Yardley’s Slickered lipped Twiggy types in hindsight doesn’t make much sense. It didn’t last long anyways.

She did make a decent album, and a couple of good singles. ‘Remember Me’ got some radio traction here, despite the accent, which I found very exotic. The lure of a picture sleeve was too much for me to resist. In a very, very, very small way, I suppose it helped the record’s climb to #26 on the Billboard charts.

You have to hand it to RCA, they were pretty good at handing out full color sleeves: Duane Eddy, The Youngbloods, The Small Faces, Jefferson Airplane, Little Peggy March.

Here's Kevin (the boy who reviewed Rita Pavone's 45 rpm) buried under a pile of 45 rpms...

July 1964's TV Star Parade. 
TV Star Parade's article claimed Rita Pavone was more famous than The Beatles in certain countries. 

link to read the whole article posted below:

Speaking of McCartney and The Beatles, this next chick I had never heard of at all, but, like I said, music is not my expertise, if I even have one. The headline for the story says that she was bigger than The Beatles, but we know that wasn't true! Rita Pavone was an Italian singer who had a few hits here and there outside her country, mostly hitting it big in Spain. Her U.S. record career lasted just over a year, though she did make appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show from 1965 through 1970. Her androgynous style is highlighted in the profile and the photos. 

If Rita Pavone unseating The Beatles wasn't enough, how about someone taking over Elvis' spot in the music business hierarchy? This article places London-raised singer Cliff Richard as the successor to The King's crown. While it's true that Cliff Richard enjoyed incredible success in the U.K. and in many other nations, for some reason he never truly caught on in America. Richard was a twenty-one year-old with three younger sisters who had to bring home the bacon for them and his mother when his father died in 1961. At the time this article saw print, he was right on the cusp of becoming an active Christian (eventually touring with Billy Graham!), something that was at deep odds with the rock 'n roll career he had been pursuing. (Born Harry Webb, his stage name Cliff had even been chosen because it was similar to the word “rock!”) 

Teen Screen magazine July 1965.

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