Published Nov 08, 2019Fred Bongusto — one of Italy's most treasured singer-songwriters and soundtrack composers — has died. The artist passed away overnight in hospital, according to his press office. While a cause of death was not revealed, Bongusto had been struggling with health problems for some time. He was 84.
Born in Campobasso, Italy, in 1935, Bongusto first made his debut in 1960 with the song "Bella Bellissima," which was written by his friend Ghigo Agosti. This soon led Bongusto to a celebrated career as a romance-loving crooner in the vein of hero Frank Sinatra, with various other hits including "Malaga," "Una rotonda sul mare," "Spaghetti a Detroit" and "Prima c'eri tu."
But for many, Bongusto will be best known for his various soundtrack work, which over the decades has found a cult audience with both DJs and OST aficionados. In the 1970s, he began an impressive string of film work, working with such legendary Italian imprints as Cinevox, Fonit Cetra International and Rifi.
With roughly 24 film soundtracks to his name, Bongusto penned the scores to such films as Il Tigre (1967), Un Detective (1969), Il Divorzio (1970), Gli Ordini Sono Ordini (1972), Malizia (1973), Peccato Veniale (1974), Le Farò Da Padre (1974), Conviene Far Bene L'Amore (1975) and many more.
Several of these titles and more have seen reissues in recent years, with many titles being highly sought-after by collectors, often thanks to Bongusto's knack of blending adventurous melodic structures — and not to mention romance — into beautiful jazz/lounge atmospheres.
Just last year, Conviene Far Bene L'Amore was treated to a deluxe vinyl release by the Cinedelic imprint, while Quartet Records reissued the stunning Un Detective just the other month.
Hear a selection of highlights from Bongusto's career below.
"Bongusto was a great, a very good and delicate singer. Unfortunately in the last few years, he was very ill, he suffered so much" friend and colleague Pippo Baudo told La Repubblica. "He was a great singer, it would be right that in Sanremo he was remembered with the affection and respect he deserves."
Baudo added: "Fred Bongusto belongs to the history of Italian music. I had the honour of knowing him a few years ago, an informal meeting in which we greeted each other with affection. I had his records, my parents they were his fans. There will certainly be a way to remember him at the Sanremo Festival, we will reflect on how to pay homage to a great musician. "
As Peppino di Capri told the publication, "It leaves us a wealth of success that we will continue to sing and that will help us remember it forever. He was a person always looking for ironies, among us there was that subtle competition that bound us, a nice and generous competition. He was very playful, he was a few years older than me and he was a little teacher but the real voice of the night was his. He had this particular voice, very original and a unique confidential tone."
Bongusto's funeral will be held in Rome on November 11, starting at 3 p.m., in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Montesanto in Piazza del Popolo.