The 80th birthday of Mal, the singer who preferred Italy to London

From the Primitives group to ‘Furia Cavallo del West’ up to the Italian version of ‘Grease’

In the beginning it was the Meteors, then the Spirits, then the primitivesfinally only him: Mal, who turns 80 today. British naturalized Italian, he was born in Wales, the son of a bricklayer whose trade he took up again in his youth together with that of electrician. His relationship with Italy began in the mid-1960s, after a performance of his in the London district of Soho was heard by two Italians present in the club: one was Gianni Boncompagni and the other is Alberigo Crocetta owner of the ‘piper’the most ‘in’ Roman disco of the time, where new musical talents performed and were born, a name for all that of Patty Pravo.

The Primitives complex records its first albums in Italy, but the success is almost exclusively linked to the front-man or Mal, who receives acclaim above all from the female audience; to the point that the record companies require you to change the name of the group to Mal of the Primitives, to put the emphasis on the singer rather than on the ensemble. In fact, it is the start of what will be his solo career, with various participations in the San Remo Festival and commercially successful songs such as ‘Bambolina’, ‘Tu sei bella come sei, ‘Black eyes’ And ‘Thought of love’ which conquers the first place in the hit parade for an entire month.

It is also the time of the ‘little musicians’as cinematic films were defined whose plot and characters were inspired by the stories told in the musical pieces, with the lead actor the same singer: a fashion that involves characters such as Claudius Villa, Gianni Morandi, Dominic Modugno, Massimo Ranieri, Al Bano, Little Tony and Mal himself.

Reconquer the peaks of the hit parade by interpreting two very different songs: the reinterpretation of the romantic ‘Tell Me About Love Mariù’ by Vittorio De Sica and the rhythmics ‘Fury Horse of the West’ theme song of the homonymous TV series for children’s TV. His theatrical commitment in the Italian version of the musical ‘Grease’ alongside Lorella Cuccarini marks his stage debut at the end of the 1990s.

In the 2000s there are only a few unmemorable appearances on TV – from ‘The Last Waltz’ in Rai with Fabio Fazio And Claudius Baglioni in which is ‘MAL 9000’ parody of the robot HAL 9000 from the movie ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ at ‘The farm’ reality show on Mediaset – and the recording of some songs, not worthy of the success achieved in its golden years. Now lives in Friuliwith his partner and their two children.

(Of Enzo Bonaiuto)