Interview with Luciano

 

Luciano Di Napoli

The dream of becoming a musician

 

A pianist often appears in the shadow. We see him from behind or from beside and on television, only his hands are shown. He must fit with the moods and the voice of those he accompanies. Here is the journey of the one who, in every concert, gives the first note to Nana.

FROM TUNISIA TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

Luciano Di Napoli was born on August 12, 1954 in Sfax, in Tunisia. His father was a locomotive engineer and his mother a secretary. Both are sons of Italian immigrants who were naturalized French. When the Algerian war for the Independence burst, a lot of Europeans settled in North Africa must return on the old continent. So, in 1960, a boat takes them to Marseille where they remain in a refugee camp during three months, before settling with their parents in Toulon, the time necesary to find a job. But the context is difficult. The Algerian war has been a defeat for France; the military service was imposed and a lot of citizens have lost family members and friends. Within a few time, they must accomodate a large number of refugees with their accent and their different lifestyle.

Luciano who is six years old vaguely remembers that time. What marks him the most, is the break-up of the family to the four corners of France and of course the climate change. Because of his name and his origins, he must learn to live with the remarks and the attitudes a bit racist from his classmates, but also from certain teachers. As time goes by, the tensions attenuate and he has good years with his family in Narbonne in Aude. The home is always filled with guests and everyone likes to celebrate with family and friends. They dance and there is always background music.

THE DESIRE TO BE A MUSICIAN

Luciano always wanted to become a musician and he is attracted by the instruments. At seven years old, he asks his parents to enrol him at the conservatory. As the courses are given free, his wish is granted. At the beginning, his parents rent the instruments. Then, when they realize that he works well, they offer him a trumpet that he considers as one of his nicest Christmas gifts. He will remain at the conservatory until 1972 where he studies solfège, trumpet, piano and the liturgical organ.

At twelve years old, Luciano starts participating in musical contests. He initially obtains a first prize as trumpet player and three others as pianist. In spite of modest incomes, his parents help him a lot morally but also materially, in particular by buying on credit all the instruments he needs. The first year, he rehearses his piano exercises at a neighbor’s home and then his parents buy one for him.

BEGINNINGS IN THE SHOW BUSINESS

His two brothers are musicians. Jean-Claude plays bass guitar and Antoine drums. In 1968, they decide to form a band. Luciano joins them and the trio starts performing in balls and accompanying regional singers. The Di Napoli Brothers play and sing popular music and rock from the fashion bands like Chicago Transit, Blood Sweat & Tears and Queen.

Three years later, the army separates them. Luciano, at seventeen years old, joins the ball orchestra of André Bermond, which performs during the festivals in Aude, Gard and Herault. The ensemble is doing fine and allows him to earn some money.

His parents continue to encourage him. However, his mother tells him that it is not a trade. So he continues his studies in a private school in Narbonne, from 1970 to 1972, where he will obtain a Certificate in Professional Accounting Studies. But he feels that he is not made for that and doesn’t see himself spending all his life in an office. After being away from home during all the year 1974 to do his military service, Luciano keeps on playing in various professional bands. In parallel, he decides to devote himself to the piano. To perfect his formation, he takes private courses and practices six hours per day during three years. Luciano passionately likes Music and his perseverance brings him all the opportunities to succeed. He makes contacts who open him doors and enable him to make a living from his Art. Very quickly, he is recognized by the conductors as having a good facility for adaptation.

FROM HALLYDAY TO SARDOU

From 1980, Luciano’s career takes a turn. He meets Johnny Hallyday, the biggest French star, who makes him pass an audition, because he desires to work with new musicians. The week after, Luciano performs in Michel Drucker’s talk show, then on tour. He plays piano, organ and synthetizer. It’s like a dream to perform in halls before 6,000 people. Johnny renews his team each year, but he keeps him.


In 1984, Luciano goes back to settle in the south of France. He keeps on meeting a lot of musicians who help him to carry on in the Musical Universe. He has the chance to integrate the René Coll Band, the official orchestra of Michel Sardou. Until 1988, he’s on tour, he makes recordings and TV apperances while playing especially synthetizer. It’s a chance for Luciano of being able to progress this time with the biggest rival of Hallyday.

WITH HERBERT AND NANA

From 1988, Luciano becomes Herbert Léonard’s accompanist. They knew each other during a summer tour of the Podium Europe N°1 and since then, they became friends. For Herbert, he plays piano, synthetizer and does the arrangements. Together, they record some albums and do several tours in Europe and in Quebec.


In parallel, he starts working with Nana Mouskouri. From the beginning, a nice complicity is set up between them. With her, Luciano learns the rigour and the discipline on stage and in studio. He discovers all World Music and he has the chance to meet great musicians. Thanks to her, he considers having relearned his trade. On her side Nana says that Luciano is the man of her Life for the Music. For two decades, they have performed in more than fourty countries.

THE MAN BEHIND THE PIANIST

Luciano defines himself as a man who likes his trade and who lives normally with his family and his friends. He tries to be honest, to respect the others, to have a team spirit, in brief simply being social. His Philosophy of Life is to enjoy the present moment at maximum.

Music is naturaly his favorite hobby. He listens to every new release, whether it be Jazz, Rock'n'roll, Middle of the Road or Classical. He doesn’t practice any sport, but he loves to watch football and rugby on TV. Sometimes he also attends matches at the stadiums, in particular at Roland-Garros for Les internationaux de France.

Luciano is married with Marie-Claude. They have two daughters, Charlotte and Fannie and five grandchildren. For him the south of France represents all his childhood, his teenage age and the time when he aspired and worked to become who he is today. He spends all his holidays there, because his family and his wife’s family still live there.

With the passing of time, Luciano feels privileged to make a living from Music. He is grateful towards his parents who allowed him to do what he wished and who supported him. He worked hard and succeded to carry out his dream of becoming a musician.

ON STAGE AND ON TELEVISION

Messages for Luciano