Renato Zero

Renato Zero is the stage name of Renato Fiacchini (born September 30, 1950), an Italian singer-songwriter and showman.

Throughout his career, Renato Zero has been a crusader against drug abuse.


Early years

Renato Fiacchini was born in Rome in the Via di Ripetta, next to the Via del Corso.

He quit his studies early to devote himself to his true passion, the arts, more specifically playing music and singing - though initially with little success. From an early age, he would wear make-up and cross-dress. He replied to the criticisms he received (including the recurring insult "Sei uno zero!" - "You're a "zero"(number)!") by assuming the alter-ego of Renato Zero.

He recorded his first two singles in 1965: "Tu, sì", "Il deserto", "La solitudine", which were never issued. His first published single, "Non basta sai/In mezzo ai guai" (1967), sold a total of 20 copies.

He had several different jobs, including an appearance in an advertisement for ice-cream, work as a dancer in a TV show, and playing in 2 musicals and (minor roles) in 2 Fellini movies.

In the late 1960s Zero's career was helped along by the glam-rock movement, from which he benefited with his sexual ambiguity and androgynous appearance. At the same time, this led him to being accused of imitating other celebrities like David Bowie. In 1973 he issued his first LP, "No! Mamma, no!" (live), but with little success. The follow-up "Invenzioni" met the same fate.

Birth of the "Zeromania"

It was not until 1976 that he scored his first hit with the single "Madame", a collaboration with songwriter Franca Evangelisti and composer Piero Pintucci, with whom Zero continued working in the years that followed. "Madame" and the album including it, "Trapezio", established a regular and loyal audience for Zero.

This was to increase exponentially in the following years, until he could boast a huge following of die-hard fans that he dubbed "Sorcini" ("Little Mice").

The late 1970s were indeed years of great success for Zero's character, with the LPs "Zerofobia" ("Zerophobia", 1977), "Zerolandia" (1978) and "Erozero" (1979) topping the Italian charts. At this time Renato Zero was amongst the two or three "most popular singers in Italy" and his song "Il Carrozzone" was already regarded, also by critics, as one of the best Italian songs ever.

The name Zerolandia referred also to the moving theatre (a circus tent with a capacity of 5,000) in which he gave shows throughout Italy. On numerous occasions fans would participate in the gigs, made-up like Zero and dressed in his typical bird-like and strass-decorated costumes.

In 1979 Zero played himself in the movie "Ciao Nì" (his usual greeting to his fans, which can be roughly translated as "Hi pal!"). In Italy this film was to be more successful than the blockbuster "Superman".

The 1980s: career dip

In the 1980s he began to abandon make-up and greasepaint, but this did not rid Zero of his mania for "grandeur": in the 1980 tour, for example, he entered the scene riding a white horse. In 1982 he began a collaboration with the opera director Renato Serio, who was to write the string arrangements for almost all of Zero's following LPs. In late 1983 he took part in RAI's "Fantastico 3", then the most popular Italian TV show.

His career continued to be successful until 1984, with top-charts songs like "Amico" ("Friend") and "Spiagge" ("Beaches"). That year, however, his album "Leoni si nasce" and the tour of the same name, in which he appeared disguised as a lion and escorted by four aborigines, were commercial failures. The album "Zero" of 1987 marked the low point of his career: instead of playing in arenas and stadiums, Zero had to sing almost for free in the piazzas and discos of Italy's minor cities.

1990s : Grand Comeback

In 1991 Renato Zero participated to the Sanremo Music Festival with "Spalle al muro", and from that moment on his career began to rise again. In 1993 he was nr.1 in the Italian charts with the LP "Quando non sei più nessuno". The following year "Imperfetto" repeated this success. During his tour concerts would regularly sell out, and he returned to his famous dress changes during the spectacles, although in a less kitsch and more balanced style.

In the mid 90's Zero dubbed the character of Jack Skelllington for the Italian version of Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas", as well as singing the songs. Fact|date=September 2007

In the Summer of 1999 he sings at Pavarotti and Friends together with the tenor Zero's hit song "Il cielo", and in November, Italy's prime singer Mina honours hiim with a full album, "Mina n° 0", singing nine Renato Zero songs, including one duet.

2000s: the Emperor's Reign

In 2004 his tour "Cattura il sogno/Il sogno continua" (Catch the dream/The dream continues) was awarded from Pollstar magazine as the most successful of the year in Italy and as well as one of the most successful worldwide (#30). The recording of the Roman concerts, held at Olimpico Stadium in June, was the "best sold musical DVD" of 2004.

In 2005 he took part to the Italian stage of Live 8, in the Circo Massimo. In November his new album "Il dono" ("The Gift") topped the charts and maintained #1 until the end of the year. In December 2005 he performed in the Vatican with a song dedicated to Pope John Paul II. Renato Zero's 2006 tour was entitled "Zero movimento" and involved 25 concerts. After 40 years of musical career, in February 2006 he refused the Career Award of the national Festival of San Remo, stating that should be for artists at an old age. During some concerts held at the time of the campaign for the April 2006 elections, he declared himself against (right-wing) former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In 2007 he toured again in major Italian cities, filling the biggest sports stadiums. The tour was called MpZerO, and attracted 270,000 spectators on 7 dates, of which 120,000 filled the Olympic Stadium of Rome, his hometown. He's often called the Emperor of Rome.

Zero's accomplishments

Renato Zero is still the only Italian artist to have reached the "number one" charts position of "singles in 4 different decades" (70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's). He had no fewer than 26 albums in the Top 10.

He likes to work with other artists, and wrote songs for numerous other singers as well. With his particular approach in performances, shows and tours, he is a leading live performer in his country and obtained a unique spot in the Italian musical scene.

His grand force is regarded to be having shown "the normality of the diverse", convincing the public that diversity feeds our human abilities to feel and act with love, respect, solidarity and faith. He has never denied being gay.


*"No! Mamma, No!" (1973)
*"Invenzioni" (1974)
*"Trapezio" (1976)
*"Zerofobia" (1977)
*"Zerolandia" (1978)
*"EroZero" (1979)
*"Tregua" (1980)
*"Icaro" (1981)
*"Artide Antartide" (1981)
*"Via Tagliamento 1965/1970" (1982)
*"Calore" (1983)
*"Leoni si nasce" (1984)
*"Identikit" (1984)
*"Soggetti smarriti" (1986)
*"Zero" (1987)
*"Voyeur" (1989)
*"Prometeo" (1991)
*"La coscienza di Zero" (1991)
*"Passaporto per Fonopoli" (1993)
*"Quando non sei più nessuno" (1993)
*"L'imperfetto" (1994)
*"Sulle tracce dell'imperfetto" (1995)
*"Amore dopo Amore" (1998)
*"Amore dopo Amore, Tour dopo Tour" (1999)
*"Tutti gli Zeri del mondo" (2000)
*"La curva dell'angelo" (2001)
*"Cattura" (2003)
*"Figli del Sogno Live 2004" (2004)
*"Il Dono" (2005)

CDs and DVDs in the Italian chart

External links

* [ Official Website] (in Italian and English)
* [ ZenZero - Official fan club]
* [ Zeromania, fan site]

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