Gino Vannelli (born June 16, 1952) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who had several hit songs in the 1970s and 1980s.
Vannelli was born into an Italian family in Montreal, Quebec. His father, (Joseph) Russ Vannelli, sang with the Montreal dance bands of trumpeters Bix Belair and Maynard Ferguson. His early ambition was to be a drummer. He admired Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, and he played drums in a pop band while he was in high school. In 1969, at the age of seventeen, he signed a contract with RCA Records, using the name Vann Elli. He studied music theory at McGill University in Montreal.
Vannelli and his brother, Joe, moved to Los Angeles. Desperate and broke, they waited for hours in the parking lot outside A&M studios, hoping to get a record deal. When Herb Alpert, the co-owner of A&M Records, finally emerged, Vannelli ran toward him and gave him a demo tape while being chased by security guards. Alpert signed Vannelli and released his debut album, Crazy Life, in 1973.
Vannelli was one of the first Caucasians to appear on the television dance program Soul Train. In 1974, he was invited to tour with Stevie Wonder.
His album Brother to Brother (A&M, 1978) produced the single "I Just Wanna Stop", which reached No. 4 on the Billboard magazine chart, No. 1 in Canada, and received a Grammy Award nomination. His next album also produced a top ten hit, "Living Inside Myself".
He received the Juno Awards for the most promising male vocalist of the year in 1975. In 1976, and again 1979, he received Juno Awards for the best male vocalist. He and his brother Joe Vannelli, his musical partner during those years, shared the Juno for Best Production for Brother to Brother in 1979.
Despite the success of singles "Black Cars" (Polydor, 1985) and "Wild Horses" (Polydor, 1987) Vannelli did not tour from 1978 to 1990.
Departing from the the jazz-pop idiom, Vannelli released two largely-acoustic jazz discs, Yonder Tree (1995) and Slow Love (1997). Subsequent to producing the album Hitek Hiku for Danish jazz pianist Niels Landoky, Vannelli revisited his interest in western classical music with the song “Parole Per Mio Padre” (A Word to My Father), dedicated to his late father, and composed in the style and tradition of Schubert. The recording came to the attention of Pope John Paul II who requested a performance of the song at the Vatican. Televised in Europe, the event caught the attention of the head of BMG Records who subsequnetly asked Vannelli to record a contemporary classical disc in the style of “Parole per Mio Padre”. Canto, released by BMG in 2003, features songs sung in English, Italian, Spanish and French, as is considered by fans and Vannelli himself to be one of his strongest musical accomplishments.
In 2008, Vannelli became a symbol of sorts for the National Basketball Association championship run by the Boston Celtics. After each blowout home victory during the 2008 season, the video crew at the TD Banknorth Garden played a clip from Dick Clark's American Bandstand that featured a bearded disco dancer clad in a tight Gino Vannelli T-shirt. The tradition became known in Boston as "Gino Time" and Gino T-shirts became common at Celtics games. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that the dancer in the Gino shirt was a young man named Joseph R. Massoni, and that he had died from pneumonia in 1990. He was 34 years old.
On May 13, 2014, Vannelli's Live in L.A. CD/DVD compilation was released by the Sono Recording Group. The presentation was recorded live onstage at the historic Saban Theater in Los Angeles on November 8, 2013, which represented Vannelli's first performance in Los Angeles in more than 15 years. The recording also marks the first on-stage collaboration in many years between the three Vannelli brothers (including Ross Vannelli as producer, editor, and mixer).
Vannelli resides in Oregon where he is active as a music teacher. He continues to perform throughout North America.
Awards and honors
- Grammy Award nomination, "I Just Wanna Stop", 1978
- Juno Award, Best Male Artist, 1976, 1979
- Juno Award, Recording Engineer of the Year, with Joe Vannelli, 1986, 1987, 1991
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Storm at Sunup||
|The Gist of the Gemini||
|A Pauper in Paradise||
|Brother to Brother||
|The Best of Gino Vannelli||
|Big Dreamers Never Sleep||
|Live in Montreal||
|These Are the Days||
|A Good Thing Going||
|Stardust in the Sand||
|Live in LA||
|"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
|Year||Song||Canada Singles||US Hot 100||US A.C.|
|1970||"Gina Bold" (Vann-Elli)||92||-||-|
|1974||"People Gotta Move"||21||22||17|
|"Love Me Now"||75||—||—|
|1976||"Keep On Walking"||82||-||—|
|"Love of My Life"||55||64||—|
|1978||"I Just Wanna Stop"||1||4||4|
|1979||"Wheels of Life"||31||78||24|
|"The River Must Flow"||80||—||—|
|1981||"Living Inside Myself"||13||6||5|
|1982||"The Longer You Wait"||—||89||—|
|"Hurts to Be in Love"||14||57||6|
|"Just A Motion Away"||79||—||—|
|"In the Name of Money"||29||—||—|
|"Persona Non Grata"||—||—||—|
|1990||"The Time of Day"||11||—||—|
|1991||"Cry of Love"||41||—||—|
|"If I Should Lose This Love"||46||—||49|
|1993||"Wheels of Life" with Martine St. Clair||—||—||—|
|1995||"I Die A Little More Each Day"||60||—||—|
|2006||"It's Only Love"||—||—||—|