Born Antonio Ciacchi, Tivoli, Italy, 7 February 1941
Little Tony is the only Italian rock 'n' roll act of some international significance. (Well, at least until the arrival of Marco Di Maggio in the 1990s.) Born into a poor family, Antonio grew up in San Marino, with his older brother Alberto and his younger brother Enrico. All three brothers loved music and, inspired by the new rock n roll sounds from the USA, formed a band in 1957, with Antonio as the lead singer. They were signed by the Durium label in 1958, where they got the name Little Tony and his Brothers. Three singles were issued in 1958, the first one of which was "Believe What You Say"/ "Treat Me Nice" (Durium A 6438). All their early singles were covers of familiar US hits, including "Lotta Lovin'", "Johnny B. Goode", "Splish Splash" and "Lucille".
"Cliff Richard is very good, until you have heard Little Tony and his Brothers!". That was the opinion of Italian singer Marino Marini, as expressed during rehearsals for the UK TV show "Oh Boy!". Producer Jack Good was intrigued and went to Italy to see the group perform. He signed them on the spot and brought them to England, where they would live and perform for some 18 months. Tony and his brothers became regulars on Good's new "Boy Meets Girls" show. The first instalment, on September 13, 1959, was Little Tony's British TV debut. Six days later, he had his first UK release, "I Can't Help It"/"Arrivederci Baby" (Decca F 11164), which was already the 11th single by Little Tony and his Brothers in Italy. Just one week later, Decca issued a second single by Tony, covers of "Hey Little Girl" (Dee Clark) and "Hippy Hippy Shake" (Chan Romero). All these numbers had been recorded in Italy, but for Tony's next single, Jack Good (who held an A&R position at Decca) took them into a London studio to record two songs written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, "Too Good" and "Foxy Little Mama". Released on Decca F 11190, "Too Good" - a pleasant rockaballad - spent three weeks on the UK charts in January 1960, peaking at # 19. It would remain the only UK hit for Tony, but this success and his appearances on "Boy Meets Girls" and "Wham!" made sure that he continued to have records released in Britain well into the sixties, even when he started to sing in Italian.
Tony was not only successful in the UK and his native country (though he had to wait for his first chart success there until 1962), but also in several other countries in Europe and South America. He made an appearance in some twenty movies after his return to Italy in 1961 and had countless albums released in Italy, where he remains a big name in popular music.
34 of his English-language recordings are available on two CD's on the Big Beat label (Little Tony And His Brothers, Vol. 1 and 2).
For those who can read Italian, there is more info at http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Tony and on Tony's own website http://www.littletony.it/ where the link to the English-language version did not work on my computer, but maybe others will be able to open it.
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