Born: July 17th, 1927, Milan (Italy)
Died: February 22nd, 2015, Capriate San Gervasio (Italy)
Ezio Leoni studied chemistry, until he found his new passion in music and formed the group Menestrelli del Jazz, in which he played the accordion; other members of this jazz ensemble were Gianfranco Intra (piano) and Fausto Papetti (saxophone). The group earned itself a record deal with a Swiss company, the Walter Guerther-led Music. As a result of the recordings he experienced in the Swiss studios, Leoni became interested in composing and conducting; it was not long before he was engaged as an arranger and conductor – often working under the pseudonym Len Mercer – for several record labels in Switzerland. As such, he worked with the young and coming rock-and-roll artist Adriano Celentano, for whom he composed ‘Blue jeans rock’, ‘Si è spento il sole’, and several other songs. In the 1960s, Ezio Leoni became the producer of Iva Zanicchi; he conducted most of her Sanremo Festival entries, amongst which the winners ‘Non pensare a me’ (1967) and ‘Zingara’ (1969). Other artists who worked with Ezio Leoni, include Fausto Leali, Chet Baker, and Luigi Tenco. In 1977, Leoni returned to the Sanremo Festival for a last time, conducting the orchestra for the winners Homo Sapiens during their rendition of ‘Bella da morire’. Having ended his career as a musician, Leoni became board member of SIAE, which protects the rights of Italian musicians, composers, and music editors.
After Iva Zanicchi’s victory in the Sanremo Festival of 1969, she was invited by RAI to be the Italian representative in the Eurovision Song Contest of that same year, held in Madrid. There, she performed the song ‘Due grosse lacrime bianche’, penned by Piero Soffici and Carlo Daiano. Leoni wrote the orchestration and conducted the Spanish orchestra. The song scored a meagre five points and landed a 13th spot.
In due course, a more extensive biography of Ezio Leoni will be published on this website
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