The 80s of Nicola Di Bari, Maradona’s favorite: a story of saints and soldiers

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A false identity and a hoarse voice conquered the world. He was a friend of Carlos Bilardo and cried for Sandro. The episode lived in dictatorship, his life today. Portrait of a “very Argentine tano”.

It all started with ice cream. At least that story was responsible for viralizing the protagonist for years. In Zapponeta, Italian province of Foggia, a 15 or 16-year-old boy was helping a hoarse ice cream man shouting “Gelato!” when it occurred to him to sing a Neapolitan song to attract customers.

The timbre of voice increased the clientele and the public convinced Nicola (by then Michele Scommegna) that she should launch as a singer.

Too much last name for such intensity. Michele Scommegna knew that between his “sandy” voice, his opaque rectangular glasses, his gestures, his powerful nose and the Italianness of his passport, the combo was excessive. The strategy was to lower the magnitude of his artistic construction one notch. He discarded the name, discarded the last name and adopted the identity of his favorite saint, Nicola Di Bari, the same one that gave rise to the legend of Santa claus.

Nicola has a lot of Santa Claus. Apology for surprise. At 80, the Bari volcano is made of saints, dark memories of the Buenos Aires military and a great quota of Argentineanness. There was a time when he was riding in the Radio Rivadavia truck with José María Muñoz, had dinner with Carlos Bilardo, adhered to the “Pincharrata” philosophy, filmed with Enrique Carreras, Cacho Castaña and Mónica Gonzaga and he ended up after dinner with Palito Ortega or Sandro.

There was also a time when he went out for drinks with Domenico Modugno for the Queen of Silver. Everything was hubbub until he said “questo non é Disney” and discovered the dictatorship. He was arrested at gunpoint and released the following day for failing to respect the curfew.

In Argentina, it owes its launching platform to Lucho Avilés and Luis Pedro Toni. And in Italy, the revalidation of his title was given to him by the “human god of Napoli”.

If Don Nicola didn’t have an award on his shelf for 1985, it was the nonexistent Diego de Oro. And he received it in some way when Maradona landed in Naples, a journalist held a microphone close to “Diez”: “Diego, what Italian musician ti piace?”. “El Diez” left even the Camorra’s children with their jaw dislodged: “Nicola Di Bari!”.

Being Nicola implies living in a body that oozes intensity and exaggeration. From that first sixties participation in San Remo when critics highlighted “al bambino del naso”, her gestures, her tear when singing, her anecdotes built a marketing. He swears that in a show at the Gran Rex the Argentine fervor led him to dispatch with “17 encores” while the kneeling orchestra begged him “enough”.

Argentina invented the Di Bari phenomenon. He admits it, remembering: “Nobody knew me when I first traveled to Buenos Aires. The success began with three young journalists, three crazy, Lucho Avilés, Luis Pedro Toni and Coco D’Agostino, who listened The globetrotter and they went to the record company. “We have to produce it here.” The local bosses asked, are we going to produce it with this hoarse voice? ‘

The first time he set foot on Ezeiza, in the ’60s, the emotion turned into a punch: “I got off the plane and everyone was hugging someone. By myself, nobody came to look for me. After an hour, one asks: ‘By any chance, are you Nicola Di Bari?’. The artistic management of the company waited for a cute, blue-eyed guy. I disappointed them, but they immediately fell in love with this hoarse, ugly, sick voice. “

With that “dirty” voice, he was knocking down prejudices, piano piano. In 1965 he was invited to participate in the San Remo Festival, he withdrew to an applause, reached the final round and promised revenge. He returned in 1970, was consecrated in 1971 and 1972. Decades later there was a recording break, but he never stopped the people-to-people strategy, with a bag of hitera artillery.

He was born in Zapponeta, in the region of Apulia, September 29, 1940. A peasant father, a housewife mother, of those ten children it was “Miguelito” who dared to leave town with the hope of a musical contract in Milan. “I wanted to continue advocacy, I thought that music was a hobby, but my father was right: leaving meant not coming back. And so it was. I built my life away, I fell in love with Agnese, my wife, I invited her to a coffee and that We have been here together for more than half a century. “

Argentinísimo, while he edited albums in Spanish to his own and someone else’s hit (Love makes you pretty; The heart is a gypsy; Rose; I know I drink, I know I smoke; Guitar sounds lower…) shared a podium here with voices like those of his compatriots Rita Pavone or Ornella Vanoni. Times of Brick Baile, of To fly and of all that importation from the peninsula that later diminished in these latitudes.

In 1981 he filmed under the orders of Enrique Carreras Rhythm, love and spring, film starring Cacho Castaña, Mónica Gonzaga and Carlos Calvo. Every time he chose to sing in the country, he did ant work: from a theater in Junín to a casino in La Pampa, from the Colonial Theater in Avellaneda to the Coliseum in Buenos Aires. Customer loyalty knows no prejudice. This is how the last time on Argentine TV (in 2018) DI Bari was lent to sing in the cycle of the tropical movida Pasión on Saturday.

“My inseparable Panama hat is something that was born in Buenos Aires,” says the lord of the vehement gestures on each visit. “The first time I saw this model in a store in Buenos Aires, I bought several. If I don’t use it I feel like I don’t have a jacket.”

From his Argentine course he also has memories of terror. “Once, Modugno and I ended up in a cell in Argentina”, he told a while ago. “There was the dictatorship. We had gone to eat at the usual restaurant: the curfew came into effect and there was no way to find a taxi. We left: a few kilometers later the police stopped us and made us enter the patrol car. We left the cell through the morning!”.


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