One of the world's true soundtrack legends, Alessandro Alessandroni, has died. Alessandroni — a prolific Italian multi-instrumentalist who first rose to fame by working on spaghetti western classics such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with childhood friend Ennio Morricone — passed away on Sunday (March 26) in Rome. He was 92.
The news first came via Alessandroni's official Facebook page, with a post that stated: "It is with deep sorrow that I communicate the loss yesterday of Maestro Alessandro Alessandroni, born in Rome on 18 March 1925, composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and choir director. A commemorative concert will be held at home in Swakopmund, Namibia, directed by his son Alex Junior Alessandroni."
Born March 18, 1925, Alessandroni left a major impact on the spaghetti western genre, where his unique guitar work and — perhaps most famously — his whistle became the highlight of such Morricone/Sergio Leone efforts as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars and Once Upon a Time in the West. In fact, it was due to Alessandroni's now-iconic whistling that he was eventually nicknamed the Whistler.
Alessandroni also made a major impact with his vocal group I Cantori Moderni, which also consisted of soprano Edda Dell'Orso, Augusto Giardino, Franco Cosacchi, Nino Gods, Enzo Gioieni, Gianna Spagnuolo and his wife Julia De Mutiis. The group's wordless scat-like vocals stylings would go on to help craft a sound that would become synonymous with the "Italian sound" of the '60s and '70s.
In fact, one of Alessandroni's biggest and most enduring impacts on pop culture was his part in Piero Umiliani's "Mah Nà Mah Nà." It's in this earwormer of a song that you can hear both his and his wife Julia De Mutiis's vocals as they lead a now instantly recognizable track that would eventually rise to even greater fame on The Muppet Show.
As much as Alessandroni flirted with the mainstream, he had just as much — if not more — impact on the world of avant-garde and experimental music. He is often considered one of the leading figures of the Italian library movement, with his stellar "Butterfly" albums standing as some of the movement's most important and influential works. Never one to stay in one place for long, Alessandroni's works ranged from ambient music, to noise-loaded early industrial to psych-damaged rock and atmospheric jazz.
Along with collaborating with fellow Italian maestros like Morricone and Umiliani, Alessandroni worked with the likes of Francesco De Masi (with whom he penned the fantastic score to 1969's Lesbos), Egisto Macchi and Sandro Brugnolini, as well as Oronzo De Filippi as the psychedelically charged Braen Machine project.
Modern listeners have been fortunate enough to see many of Alessandroni's works reissued in recent years, with labels such as Andy Votel's Dead Cert, Death Waltz, Dagored, Intervallo, Four Flies and Sonor Music Editions all reissuing his works in recent years. Among these Alessandroni albums are the likes of Killer Nun, Sangue Di Sbirro, Industrial, Panoramic Feelings and Inchiesta, among many others.
Down below, you can find some tribute posts from Votel, as well as the folks of Sonor and Four Flies. Below that, you can hear a selection of highlights from across Alessandroni's prolific and varied career.
Waking up in S.Italy to sad news that Main Braen A Alessandroni passed. May he & Kema reunite in a choir of angels❤️ https://t.co/i3IzxnGoUB— Andy VoteI (@AndyVotel) March 27, 2017