Roby Facchinetti: "Giancarlo Lucariello, a gift from God"

Roby Facchinetti: “Giancarlo Lucariello, a gift from God”

Roby Facchinetti talks about his first eighty years of life (he turns them today, happy birthday!) in an autobiography which has only been available in bookstores for a few days.

Pooh were on the verge of ending their adventure at the beginning of 1970. In fact, the success of “Little Katy” was not followed by the definitive affirmation of the band; indeed, what we had written and recorded after that song had not been nothing good. «Memories», our second long playing, a concept album about modern man, was perhaps too pretentious for young people
like us, and we certainly hadn't managed to make it happen the way we wanted.

The song “Mary Ann”, with which we also went to the Cantagiro, did not succeed. Therefore, the enthusiasm of Vedette and her patron Armando Sciascia was running out for us and we were really on the verge of breaking up.

It was in those gray days that a phone call from a certain Giancarlo Lucariello, who had retrieved my contact details from a Vedette secretary and wanted to speak to me, arrived at my mother's house, from whom I had bought an apartment in Longuelo with my first earnings. I, who at the time already lived in Mozzo with Mirella, was casually visiting my mother, who passed it on to me.
Giancarlo introduced himself as a young internal producer at CGD/Sugar, one of the major Italian record companies, and told me that he would be pleased to meet us Poohs to propose a collaboration.

Riccardo was also in Bergamo with me in those days, so the next day we went together to Milan, to the Galleria del Corso, to the CGD/Sugar offices. It was three in the afternoon, I remember. Giancarlo told us a little about himself, saying that he had had carte blanche from his bosses after having chosen a single for Italy from Louis Armstrong's repertoire which had flown into the hit parade, and now he wanted to start his career as a producer by focusing on Pooh. He had heard us sing at Vun Vun in Rome, and was convinced we were potentially very strong. As a final touch, looking into my eyes, he pronounced the indelible phrase: «If you agree to work with me, and follow me, you will become the most important Italian band in the history of song».

Riccardo and I accepted the proposal without too much hesitation, also because it was an unexpected life preserver and even had the CGD/Sugar brand. Of course we were a little perplexed, but also very fascinated by this elegant young man who gave the impression of knowing his stuff. Valerio and Dodi also agreed with us, and in the end we just had to (so to speak)
terminate the contract with Sciascia, who had given us a lot of money in advance by tying us to Vedette until 1971. At the price of bills of exchange (at 70,000 lire each, for a total value of two million lire), sweat and blood, however we did; in fact, I did it. And I still have those bills, because that's where the Pooh story really began. With that phrase that perhaps Lucariello had
said on the wave of enthusiasm, to flatter us, and yet it objectively revealed itself to be a prophecy. Thanks to us Pooh, obviously, but above all thanks to that “call” from Giancarlo Lucariello. To everything he taught us, explained, made us write, made us become.

A few days later Giancarlo came to my house in Mozzo, because I had told him I had some new melodies in store. And it was there that he instructed me for the first time: he told me to let go of certain minor musical intuitions, to no longer make the so-called “songs”, insisting instead on a certain world that, he felt, I had inside.
“That's the right way, Roby,” he said. «So you will become an important composer. By working and developing a talent that few possess.»
On that occasion we also signed the pre-contract with CBS, a historic American label whose Italian branch was under CGD/Sugar and for which it had been decided that our new records would be released.

And CBS meant for us, still little known, being in a team with local artists of the caliber of Camaleonti and Gigliola Cinquetti, who have long been at the top of the hit parades.
as well as entering the (stratospheric) catalog of a label which at the time also distributed Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, Doris Day in Italy.

I immediately followed Lucariello's advice. Together we played those ideas of mine, selected and reworked, to Franco Crepax, his contact in Sugar, a record company that had launched, among others, none other than Gaber, Endrigo, Paoli, Bindi, Tenco, Vanoni and Caselli. Crepax also liked them (there was already in the package what would become “So much desire for her”) and so we signed the final contract. A relationship began which, in the space of just a year, would lead us to define our own language and definitively break through in the rankings and in the judgments of critics.

First of all, a deep friendship was born with Giancarlo right away, which still lasts today. For some time, before he moved permanently to Milan, in 1970 – he was born in Naples and previously lived in Rome -, he often came to sleep at my house and this cemented our relationship. Since we talk often, even today, and it's one of the very few he can give me
advice, he can even “pull my ears”, and I listen to him. I take his judgments on what I write, think and plan very seriously.
Giancarlo is a cultured, refined, empathetic and extremely generous person.

A good and profound man, of great musical competence. Without his vision and his advice I would never have written certain things, Pooh would never have recorded them, songs like “Parsifal”, “You and I for other days” and many others would never have been born. He knew and knows how to stimulate me, how to take me, how to push me. Over the years he has helped me find my way of working, seeing ideas and outcomes in my ideas.
I hadn't even thought about it.

Giancarlo Lucariello was therefore a “gift from God”, for me and for the Poohs, first of all because he chose us, then because he pushed us to create a language capable of resisting over time and also because he gave us, or rather imposed on us, the famous rules of Pooh. A life lesson, a teaching without which we would not have lasted as long as a complex, much less we would have always remained on the crest of the wave, credible, authors of quality productions.
In 1970 we were immature and a little wild, and we weren't really a “team”, as Giancarlo pretended we were.

Everyone dressed as they wanted, did what they wanted, in short we were not cohesive, nor really focused on the good of Pooh, an attitude that Lucariello instead quickly led us to mature. Not to mention the artistic vision.
complete, original and definitive, which Giancarlo passed on to us and which, subsequently, we – with Stefano's decisive contribution in terms of rules and management – were able to carry forward over the decades.
He told us: “This is fine, from today you won't do this anymore.” For example, we took turns taking our girlfriends or wives with us, to the recording studio or on tour or on television. And Giancarlo: «Sorry, but when your fathers go to work, do they take your mother with you?» It was a phrase that remained engraved in our heads, and has always avoided us – among other things – the risks we ran
from the Beatles…

He gave us another important contribution in terms of style. Normally we woke up, took some clothes from the pile at random and off we went, each one combined in its own way. Lucariello scolded us: «You must have a recognizable style, what the heck!» And he demanded style in everything: in his behavior with the press and in public, in his relationship with the fans, in his way of presenting himself on stage… and then punctuality, courtesy, smiles.
On an artistic level, Giancarlo used a strongly democratic criterion. He was the producer, of course, so he thought it was right to have the final say. But each of us, on every song, on every project, had the right and duty to have our say: so that everything signed by Pooh was the result of collective work, of a constructive dialogue between the many people, and the many souls, of the complex.

As a producer Giancarlo was able to impose himself for our good regarding what we wanted or would have liked to record: he did it with us, but also with the record companies, who for a long time had a contractual force towards the artists that we, only by becoming independent in 1976, we managed to moderate. Under his guidance we Pooh no longer ran the risks, run by many colleagues, of debasing ourselves in crazy operations, far from their personality and the artistic path undertaken.

The supreme example was “So much desire for her”. Giancarlo first imposed himself on Valerio, making him rewrite the text three times, then on Sugar, who, seeing that we didn't seem to find a solution, had asked Daniele Pace, author of “Io tu e le rose” or “La tramontana”, to help us. On that occasion Pace, in the wake of “My Sweet Lord” with which George Harrison was becoming popular all over the world, gave us the parareligious song “La mia cross è lei”.
Lucariello made it clear to everyone, in Sugar, that Pooh wouldn't have recorded that stuff, on the contrary they would have recorded
only texts written by them. And he imposed “So much desire for her”.
But it didn't end there. Because afterwards Giancarlo demanded that the song be on side A, and not on side B, of our first 45 rpm single on CBS, shouting at the record companies at Galleria del Corso: «Either Pooh comes out with this text by Negrini and this song, or these notes will never come out again.”

Thus it led us to become a hit parade phenomenon. And to truly, finally, be “the Poohs”, those of a magnificent story that lasted fifty years. Given how inexperienced we were at the time, we would certainly have given in: just to continue the adventure we would have recorded “My cross is she” and, perhaps, the adventure would have ended there.

When, in 1975, the separation between Pooh and producer Lucariello became inevitable for a thousand reasons, not least our artistic growth and maturation, I was the one who suffered the most. I understood the need for us to change direction, I perceived the ferment that was taking music into the world even in directions that were sometimes different from those loved by Giancarlo, but leaving him was difficult and painful for me. Even though, in reality, the two of us only lost touch for a few months: a couple of years later not only had the friendship relationship resumed, but also his role as my mentor and advisor. And within a few years he still called me among his reference composers, to think of pieces that would definitively launch – as happened
ne – Riccardo Fogli's career as a solo singer.

Today, however, I feel I can say that in the “breathless” years with Pooh, Lucariello was always there, even when he was no longer there. Because after his departure from the team, in reality, we had the intelligence and consistency to always, ultimately, follow his rules. In addition to exploring the original language from multiple sides,
nal that had pushed us to create.

The text published above is taken, courtesy of the publisher, from the book “What a spectacle is life – My story” by Roby Facchinetti, Sperling & Kupfer, 288 pages, 19.90 euros.