About Me

 
I was born in Rome, Italy, on December 11 of 1956. Thanks to my father, Marcello Giombini, my ears were always exposed to the best music from birth. I remember that when I was about five or six years of age I would sit on the ground with my back against the wall, listening to him, fascinated by his reading and playing of Bach music at the organ. Also thanks to my father I was introduced to the wonderful world of synthesizers. He had been one of the first to use them in Italy, in the 1970’s. Strangely, my real musical passion exploded in me later, when I was 14 years old.
My personal musical identity had always leaned more towards the Rock/Jazz genre, but I did not limit my studies to only that kind of music. Even though I hated school and my classmates, I decided to enrol at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, to create a musical foundation and to study and understand the works of the great geniuses of classical music, which is something I continue to do to this day and will continue to do. After some years of studying harmony and piano, in 1978 I became obsessed with the idea of going to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music and Arts and to realise my dream: to create a band in the USA, in the vein of Emerson Lake and Palmer, early Genesis and later the Weather Report and other groups that played Fusion.
So, humbly, I accepted, along with a drummer friend, to play for six months on a cruise ship in a small ensemble. The cruise ship was to follow the route of New York/Nassau/Bermuda. This would have allowed us to earn enough money and stay in the USA, long enough to achieve our goals. We then spent two months practicing with this small ensemble, both of us having bought tuxedos at our own expense for the job. Suddenly, the ‘head of the ensemble’ told us that the contract with the cruise ship had been cancelled! My project to move to the USA had been ruined, so I remained in Rome. It was a traumatic experience and I suffered terribly.
As a result, I decided to try and produce music that was of a commercial nature and was suitable for the European market. Pop/Dance songs, with lyrics written in English and arrangements made mostly with synthesizers. I began to compose many songs and create demos for them on my Teac 4-track reel-to-reel.
One of the many demos was of the track “Masterpiece” which later became the first success sung by Gazebo (Paolo Mazzolini), who also worked on the lyrics of almost all my songs.
I thought it would be relatively easy to find a record company who would believe and market my projects, but instead it turned out to be incredibly difficult.
RCA Italy, which in the 1980’s was on Via Tiburtina in Rome, was a complex of two enormous buildings arranged in an L-shaped pattern, with a gate covered in red and white stripes that would only allow people who worked in the buildings to enter, or those who could get an appointment. I was one of these outsiders who couldn’t get in, but always I dreamed that one day this gate would be raised and they would allow me to enter, and to let one of the staff producers or the publisher hear my songs. Finally after dozens of calls and rejections an A&R set up an appointment.
So, after all the hard work, he said that my music “wasn’t commercial”, with my “unknown singer” I would achieve very little on the global musical scene. He said “how do you think you can compete with Madonna or Michael Jackson?” almost laughing as he spoke. Finally he said “but you are very talented, so if you don’t want to die of hunger, you will have to adapt and arrange the music for our Italian singers (Cantautori) who go to the Sanremo song festival, don’t throw away everything because of yourpresumptuous attitude”. This was the disappointing result of the meeting.
The same identical thing happened when I was able to meet someone at Polygram, which in the 1980’s also had an office in Rome.
I was desperate but one day I met an old childhood friend by chance (now an ex-friend) who in the meantime had become a DJ in a famous Roman discotheque. He heard the demo of “Masterpiece” and he was so enamoured of it that he proposed to produce it in a small studio at his own expenses, offering to share the profits 50/50. Initially I would not have been paid for my hard work as arranger and keyboard player in that studio, but I accepted the offer because, at that time, it seemed to be the only way to release my song, which Gazebo and I loved so much.
This same DJ asked me to compose a song for a singer he knew. I liked his voice a lot. His stage-name was Gary Low. I composed “You Are a Danger” for him.
I produced this song in the same run-down but, in the end “magical” studio where I had produced “Masterpiece”.
Once the records were finished, this ex-friend of mine disappeared for a few months, but later I realised he had had a genius idea. He did not bother with the “Major” record labels such as Polygram, RCA etc. who did not understand the potential of the record, he gave the masters of the records directly to some record distributors in Milan who pressed and distributed the records without a record company as white-label 12” vinyl that only had the name of the song on the record label. They then distributed the records to specialised record stores where DJ’s heard new productions and bought records.
Starting from June of 1982 both “Masterpiece” and “You Are a Danger”, being appreciated directly by the public and above all by the DJ’s, began to have incredible success in all the Italian discotheques.
When, in September of that year, the independent record label Baby Records acquired the rights for “Masterpiece”, it began to do promotion on television. Soon after, as a result, the record climbed up the Italian record sales charts, hitting over 500,000 copies. In that summer of 1982, therefore, the “Italo-Disco” phenomena was born.
Baby Records, headed by Freddie Naggiar, requested in 1983 to compose and produce an entire album, appropriately called “Gazebo”. It was going to be difficult to top something like “Masterpiece”, everyone thought, including myself, but in the end I found the right idea, and I have to give credit in part to F. Chopin, the king of Romantic piano music.
One day, while studying one of Chopin’s compositions, I had a genius idea. I would compose an instrumental riff played on the piano, in a Romantic style, with the song containing the name Chopin both in the title and the sung verse. I asked Gazebo to add the words to the melody and did my usual demo recording on my Teac 4-track Reel-to-Reel. We showed the demo to Freddie Naggiar and he loved it! He said it was an amazing song and that it was ten times more powerful than “Masterpiece”.
He was right: “I Like Chopin” climbed the record sales charts all over the world and sold millions of records.
In February 1983, while the single “I Like Chopin” was about to be released to record stores, I produced “Dolce Vita”, which, as usual, many important record company people said was doomed to failure. Instead it had incredible success, number one on the sales charts in all of Europe and it reached number 5 in the UK. The singer “Ryan Paris” even went on Top of the Pops. It was pressed and promoted in Italy by the independent record company Disco Magic, owned by Severino Lombardoni, The same who in 1982 acquired and promoted “You Are a Danger”.
1983, therefore was a magic year for me. For some months I had three records in the top ten sales charts in Europe: “You Are a Danger”, “Dolce Vita” and “Lunatic” as well as another song/rap by the title of “AM-FM”, sung by Natasha King, which was selling well on the “disco” market in the USA.
Disco d'Oro
Disco di Platino
Disco di Platino