The Italian winner of the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest, Toto Cutugno was born Salvatore Cutugno on July 7, 1943, in the northern Tescan town of Fosdinovo. A drummer as a youth, he turned to songwriting in the early '70s, and went on to compose hits for such European stars as Joe Dassin, Mireille Mathieu, Dalida, Johnny Halliday, Michel Sardou, Claude François and Gigliola Cinquetti. He also performed his material with his own band Albatross and, in 1976, the band released its self-titled debut album.
That same year, Albatross (performing the song "L'Albatross") placed third at the San Remo Music Festival. They were back again in 1977, performing "Gran Premio," since when Cutugno has visited the event on no less than a dozen further occasions. A solo artist now, he claimed victory just once, in 1980 with "Solo Noi" ("Only Us"). However, he would place second in 1984 with "Serenata" ("Serenade"), in 1987 with "Figli" ("Sons"), in 1988 with "Emozioni" ("Emotions"), and in 1989 with "Le Mamme" ("The Mothers"). A prolific recording artist throughout the '80s, his album releases included 1980s solo debut Voglio l'Anima and Innamorata, Innamorato, Innamorati, 1981's La Mia Musica, L'Italiano in 1983, and Mediterraneo and Cofanetto in 1987.
1990 saw Cutugno return to the San Remo event, performing alongside Ray Charles. Cutugno's "Gli Amori" (recorded by Charles as "Good Love Gone Bad") finished runner-up once again, but a greater triumph was just around the corner, as Cutugno's "Insieme 1992" ("Together 1992"), a song celebrating the upcoming unification of Europe's EEC membership, won the Eurovision Song Contest. His next album, Insieme, understandably remains Cutugno's best known. His output slowed during the '90s and beyond. 1992's Non E Facile Essere Uomini was followed by Canzoni Nacoste (1997), Il Treno Va (2002) and Cantando (2004). 2005, however, saw Cutugno return to the spotlight when he joined singer Annalisa Minetti to perform "Come Noi Nessuno Al Mondo," the title track from his latest album. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pairing finished second once again. ~ Dave Thompson