In part because he chose to keep a low profile, Italian singer/songwriter and rocker Pierangelo Bertoli never reached the level of fame of his fellow Reggio-Emilians Vasco Rossi, Lucio Dalla, and Ligabue (even though he acted as a kind of mentor to Dalla and Ligabue). Still, in the 30 years he released records, he managed to make a permanent and important spot for himself in minds of many of his countrymen. Born November 5, 1942, in Sassuolo, Bertoli worked with a variety of other artists before releasing a full-length album in 1976 -- Eppure Soffia featured a number of elements that the musician would become known for: leftist, socially aware (and often critical) lyrics; respect for roots and traditions (two of the songs were sung in the dialect of Sassuolo); and far from perfect characters.
Issuing nearly a record a year (including 1977's Il Centro del Fiume, 1979's A Muso Duro, and 1981's Certi Momenti, the latter of which contained his biggest hit, "Pescatore") for the next decade cemented Bertoli's presence in the Italian rock scene, but it wasn't until 1991 that he made his first-ever appearance at the radio pop-oriented San Remo Festival. Bertoli used this opportunity to perform the song "Spunta la Luna dal Monte," backed by a traditional Sardinian band, and the following year he sang "Italia d'Oro," which criticized the country's rampant political corruption, named Tangentopoli (a made-up word, generally translated into English as "Bribeville"). After splitting with his label, Ricordi, in 1995, Bertoli kept himself busy by writing and producing for other artists -- although he managed to find the time to compose "Juvecentus," a kind of fight song for the Turinese soccer club, in 1998 -- and in 2002 he began work on a new album. Unfortunately, before it was ever completed, Pierangelo Bertoli, who had spent most of his life in a wheelchair due to complications from polio, died, shortly before his sixtieth birthday. ~ Marisa Brown