His mother's side of the family is from Lombardy. His father was an aeronautical official and worked at Forlanini airport (now more commonly known as Linate). He took part in the Italian resistance movement, in particular during the defense of Milanese aviation at Piazza Novelli, an act which later inspired songs such as Sei minuti all'alba ("Six Minutes to Dawn"). After finishing high school at the Liceo Scientifico Leonardo Da Vinci, he graduated in harmony, composition and conducting at the Milan Conservatory. Later in 1967 he graduated with a degree in medicine from the University of Milan. He left Italy for South Africa and United States to specialise in cardiac surgery, where he joined the team of Christiaan Barnard, the famous surgeon. On November 23, 1967 he married Giuliana Orefice, who gave birth to Paolo, their only child, five years later. Today Paolo is a musician and conductor. Jannacci started his musical career in 1956, becoming the keyboardist of the group "Rocky Mountains". Lead member of the group initially was Tony Dallara, that was later replaced by Giorgio Gaber.
In 1957 he became the keyboardist of the Rock Boys, a rock'n'roll group accompanying Adriano Celentano. In 1958, even keeping on perform with Rock Boys, he formed with Gaber the musical duo "I due corsari" with whom he made his first recordings. In the same years he was able to accompany as a jazz pianist several great names such as Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Bud Powell and Franco Cerri, with whom he recorded several albums. Jannacci started his solo career in early sixties, recording two songs, "L'ombrello di mio fratello" and "Il cane con i capelli", that already revealed its ironic and surreal style, and in 1962 he debuted on stage with the recital Milanon Milanin. The following year he made his debut as stand-up comedian in the Milan comedy club Derby; there he met Dario Fo and the duo Cochi & Renato, with whom he collaboated several times over the years. In 1964 his popularity grew significantly thanks to the recital 22 canzoni, of which he was the author together with Dario Fo, and thanks to the song "L'Armando", his first real success. In 1968 he topped the Italian hit parade with the main success of his career, "Vengo anch'io (no tu no)". The same year he took part at the musical contest Canzonissima '68; he reached the final, but the song he had chosen for the final, "Ho vosto un re", was censored by RAI and replaced with "I due zingari". "Ho visto un re" despite the ostracism (RAI even forbade the radio broadcasting of the song) became a classic and reached 7th place on hit parade. Jannacci in L'udienza (1971) Between 1968 and 1972 Jannacci temporarily slowed his activities focusing on his activity of doctor; during these years he however appeared as leading actor in two films, Mario Monicelli's Le coppie (in the segment Il frigorifero) and Marco Ferreri's L'udienza. In 1973 he wrote the comedy play Il poeta e il contadino, that was later turned in a TV-series broadcasted by RAI, and in 1974 he wrote, together with Beppe Viola, the book L'incompiuter.
In these years he also successfully composed several film soundtracks, including Mario Monicelli's Romanzo popolare and the Academy Award nominated Lina Wertmüller's Seven Beauties. In 1975 he published the album Quelli che... which eponymous single was one of his most known songs, especially thanks to the variety show Quelli che... il Calcio that had it as the theme song for eight years. In 1977 Mina covered ten songs of Jannacci in the album Mina quasi Jannacci, where the songwriter duet with her in the song "E l'era tardi". In 1978 he composed the soundtrack and collaborated to the screenplay of Saxofone, the directorial debut of his longtime friend Renato Pozzetto. In 1979, after several years off, he went back to make live concerts. In these years he also collaborated with Paolo Conte, signing successful songs such as "Sudamerica" and "Bartali". In 1980 Jannacci released the album Ci vuole orecchio that, pulled by the title song, realized excellent sales. In 1982 he hosted the variety television Gran simpatico; the same year he reformed the musical duo with Giorgio Gaber for the EP Ja-Ga Brothers.
Starting from the second half of eighties he focused his activity on stage leading several recitals. In 1989 he entered the Sanremo Music Festival with the critically apprecciated song "Se me lo dicevi prima"; he came back to Sanremo three more times, in 1990 with "La fotografia" (which won the Critics Award), in 1994 with "I soliti accordi", a duet with the comedian Paolo Rossi, and in 1998 with "Quando il musicista ride". In 1996 he hosted, together with Piero Chiambretti, the Raitre late night show Il laureato. Later years and death The late years were for Jannacci full of tributes and honors, but also difficult on records. While a great number of anthologies and collections are released, between 1994 to his death Jannacci was able to release just two new original albums in 2001 and 2003, with the independent label Ala Bianca. Both the albums won the art music prize Premio Tenco. On January 1, 2003, his friend Giorgio Gaber died after a long illness at his home near Camaiore. He went to the funeral, which was held two days later at Abbazia di Chiaravalle where Gaber had married Ombretta Colli, but was only able to say that he had lost a brother. The 2006 collection The Best 2006 is his latest album, a double CD containing 35 tracks, rearranged and produced by his son Paolo with 3 new songs. In 2010 Jannacci starred in a role of weight in Sergio Castellitto's comedy film La bellezza del somaro. Between 2010 and 2011 he appeared several times in the variety show Zelig as stand-up comedian.
On 19 December 2011 Fabio Fazio hosted a TV special about Jannacci, Vengo anch'io. Ovvero Enzo Jannacci, a tribute event full of guests that was the last public appearence for the already diseased Jannacci. In February 2012 he was celebrated by a radio documentary series, Ho visto un re, Enzo Jannacci, broadcasted by Radio Due. Jannacci died of cancer on the evening of Friday, March 29, 2013, at around 20:30, at the age of 77 years. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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