Wednesday, 9 May 2012


London 1966. 

at VARA the Dutch public broadcaster on 3rd June 1966, where she appeared in a youth musical show that went to air monthly.
Rita Pavone ready to conquer Great Britain in 1966.
15th December 1966 - the day Rita Pavone sang at BBC's Top of the Pops.

Herman's Hermits' 'East West'; The Troggs' 'Any way that you want me'; The Small Faces with 'My mind's eye' (repeat performance); Rita Pavone with 'Heart'; Tom Jones with 'Green green green grass of home' (repeat performance); Elvis Presley with 'If every day was like Christmas' (promo video); Donovan's 'Sunshine superman' (repeat performance); Dave Dee & Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich with 'Save me' (repeat performance) and The Seekers with 'Morningtown ride'.

John Napper wrote on 25 May 2016: Wow! That's great! There were some good records around then. The important thing for me was it was the 1st time I had ever heard Rita Pavone and I was blown away. I remember Jimmy Saville introducing 'All the way from Italy, a little girl with a big voice, Miss Rita Pavone'. Maybe not his exact words, but very close.

Next day I went to the local record shop and they didn't have it in stock so I had to wait another week but it was worth the wait and still my favourite Rita Pavone recording.

She must have recorded a performance of 'You, only you' a the same time because a few weeks later she was on again on Top of the Pops performing that song in the same dress. Naturally, I bought that too.

John Napper is a British fan of Rita Pavone. I met him through facebook about two weeks ago. Here's what he wrote to me and I thought it was interesting enough to post it here:

Hi Carlus, I am English. I first came across Rita Pavone when I was 15 and watching 'Top Of The Pops' in 1966. Jimmy Saville introduced "A little Italian girl with a big voice" and she sang 'Heart', a song that I had never heard before although I now know it was a minor hit in the USA for 2 other singers a couple of years earlier.

I remember thinking "This is quite nice", then it changed gear and she just blew me away. I had to have that record and really don't know why it wasn't a bigger hit in Britain. I think it got to no. 27. It is still my favourite Rita Pavone recording.

A few weeks after 'Heart', Rita appeared on 'Top Of The Pops' again, this time singing 'You, Only You' which got slightly higher in the charts - no. 23 I think - but neither song got much radio play. In those days there was little pop music on the BBC so you had to listen to Radio Luxemburg or the pirate radio-stations and none of them played Rita's records.

Incidentally, in the interview on your blog she mentions 'Top Of The Pops' while living in the USA, which may not be a mistake. I know the 2 records were recorded in England but the 'Top Of The Pops' appearances were clearly both recorded at the same time and not in the 'Top Of The Pops' studio.

Although this was before the days of pop-videos, and 'Top Of The Pops' was a live show, a lot of it was pre-recorded, sometimes just re-running previous weeks' performances and sometimes using supplied-clips which was clearly the case with Rita as there was no audience visible and she wore the same dress each time.

From then on I was a fan but knew almost nothing about her for many years. In 1969 I heard 'Sunshine Boy' on the radio and bought that, but it wasn't a hit.

That was my entire Rita Pavone collection, and knowledge, for several decades until the coming of the internet when I decided to do a search for Rita Pavone and found the Brazilian Rita Pavone Fans Club website which was very informative. I had no idea just how big she had been in the 1960s throughout Europe and also in South America or that she had recorded quite a lot in English.

My next stop was e-Bay where I proceeded to buy as much of her recordings as I could, using the log-in name of Pavonefan.

Lory Lynn Tarallo spotted the made-up-name and e-mailed me, expecting me to be Italian. Fortunately for me, she is half-American so communicating in English was no problem. Am I the first person to make a friend through e-Bay?

I don't speak Italian, but that doesn't matter to me. Good music is good music in any language.

In 2005 I got to see Rita in concert in Milan and met her backstage after the show which was a magic moment. Before going, I had been e-mailing the contact address on her website and getting helpful replies, but I did not imagine that Rita would know about this. When it was my turn to get her autograph after the show, I said my name was John and she asked "Are you John Napper?" which amazed me. She told me that she had read my e-mails and insisted on posing for a photo with me, then she signed a poster for me which is now framed on my wall.

John Napper & Rita Pavone in 2005.

I am now retired and have emigrated to Rio de Janeiro which really is Cidade Maravilhosa. Sadly, one of the decisions I made before moving was to sell my Hi-Fi and all my vinyl records including all those Rita Pavone records from around the world that I bought on e-Bay, but I digitised it all first so I still have the music.

John Napper was lucky enough to have caught Rita Pavone's swan song... her last live show ever called 'La mia favola infinita' [My endless fable] in 2005, before she went into retirement. The theatre is in Milan.

John Napper wrote:  Thanks for that. It looks good. The name of the theatre is actually in the photo, Teatro Nuovo di Milano to give its full name. It's not obvious, but the photo is actually the entrance. As I recall, it took me a while to work out where to go. Under the large poster are the doors which lead into a shopping centre and the theatre is down some stairs. It is a very nice theatre once you find it.

20 April 2017

John Napper keeps on helping us at the Rita Pavone Fan Club correcting lyrics for Doris Castro's website

Here is Napper's last message to Carlus Maximus who had asked his help in correcting the lyrics of 'Under the spell of your love'.

Hi Carlus,

I have attached the corrected lyrics. I love hearing English with an Italian accent, but it did make a couple of words difficult to make out clearly. I got there in the end but wasn't 100% certain at first so I left it for a day and played it again tonight. Now I am sure I have it correct.

As I'm sure you know, this is the B side of 'Sunshine Boy'. I have told you before that for years all I knew about Rita Pavone was the 3 singles I bought in the 60s: 'Heart'; 'You Only You' & 'Sunshine Boy'. 

Early in the 2000s I used the Internet to find out more about Rita and buy her records on eBay. I also found her website and made contact through the website. I can't recall exactly what happened, but at some stage my comments about buying these 3 records in the 60s appeared online, probably on my website which is long gone.

I mention this because about 10 years ago I received a phone call out of the blue from Andy Black who was the producer of 'Sunshine Boy' and 'Under the Spell of your Love'. It seems he had read my personal Rita Pavone story online. He said that his home had been burgled and all his old records stolen and he wanted to have a copy of all the songs he had worked on. 

He asked me if I could make a digital copy of these 2 songs and e-mail them to him which I did. I hope he was happy with them, but he never replied which annoyed me seeing as I had gone to the trouble of copying and e-mailing the songs for him. After all this time I had forgotten all about it until your e-mail so I thought I would mention it although it's not the most exciting story.

Cheers, John.

25 June 2017 - I asked John Napper (yet again) to correct the lyrics of 'The man who makes the music'. Here's most of the lyrics with John Napper's comment right after it.

The man who makes the music
(Viva la pappa col pomodoro)
Lina Wertmüller-Nino Rota
English words by Norman Newel

The man who makes the music sha la la la la la la la la la
he makes you sing, he makes you dance any time he starts to play

He plays the tambourin-o, the drums and piccolino
the tuba and the trumpet, the oboe and the flute
he plays the violin-o beneath his double chin-o
he plays the concertino, the bugle and the flute.

He plays the mandolin-o, the drums and ocarino
the cymbals and the organ, the saxophone and harp
He opens up his case-o and plays the double bass-o
he love the concertino but plays it very sharp.

The tinker and the taylor, the soldier and the sailor
the butcher and the baker are dancing in the square
the music that he's playing has everybody swaying
the man who makes the music is welcome everywhere!

Hi Carlus,

'The man who makes the music' was the B side of 'Heart', so the second Rita Pavone song that I ever heard. For decades I had no idea that the words were not a translatioin of the Italian original but that became obvious when I finally got to hear 'Viva la pappa col pomodoro'. Even with no understanding of Italian it clearly wasn't even close to being the same song, just the same tune.

I wasn't very impressed with it back in the 60s and thought it was just a lightweight song she had recorded because they needed something to put on the other side of the record. However, I think it is the English words that are lightweight. It sounds to me like something knocked out in a hurry and quite probably was as far as those words are concerned.

The lyricist, Norman Newell, was also the producer and had a long and successful career in the UK as both a producer and a songwriter, often supplying English words for foreign hits or sometimes adding lyrics to instrumental tracks, particularly film music,to turn them into British hits. However, I think this is the only one of his songs that I ever bought and that was only because of what was on the other side!

Now we come to the tricky part. Again you got most of the lyrics and I think Rita's singing is pretty clear which helps although Newell's distortion of the language to make some words sound Italian (and fit the tune better with an extra syllable in several cases) adds confusion especially if English isn't your first language and you are looking for correct English words!

The really difficult part, as you have obviously realised, is the short verse sung only by the backing singers. I got most of it, but one word is a guess. I am confident that they sing 'He opens up his ...-o' but what? I put 'case-o' because it makes sense if you assume it to be an instrumental case, and it rhymes with 'double bass-o' which I am sure is correct, but it sounds more like 'take-o' to me which is nonsense. It could be table, but that still doesn't work.

I am sure that all the other words are correct, but that one is still a mystery. Put whatever you think best.

Cheers, John,