Rock Around the World: Italy

by Jette-Mari Anni

Italy might be known for its food, wine, and amazing scenery, but it’s also known for passion. People express themselves in a variety of ways, and in Italy, the culture and language never leave anything lukewarm. The same goes with Italian rock music.

The history of Italian rock goes back to 1960s when the genre reached Europe from the US. As in many countries, American hits became wildly popular and many local artists would do covers, and either translate the lyrics or add an interpretive twist to them. The 1960s and 70s in the US were the peak of the psychedelic boom, which also inspired Italian singer-songwriters. Mario Schifano and Le Orme were some of the earliest Italian psychedelic musicians.

1968 brought student uprisings, as many Italian college-aged students started to follow the counterculture of France, which also gained popularity in the US, Mexico, and elsewhere. However, what made the Italian rock scene so unique was their strong education and familiarity of the classical music composers like Bach and Mozart. That’s why the instrumentals of Italian rock music are so complex and have a unique sound that fits perfectly into the popular movement of progressive rock at the end of the decade. Many fused elements of jazz and fusion, producing haunting melodies and instrumental arrangements. In fact, progressive rock brought forth a multitude of great Italian bands Jacula and Le Orme:

The 70s launched the Italian punk scene, with the comedy-rock band Skiatos releasing Monotono. The 80s brought along new wave, hardcore, and thrash metal. By the late 80s, heavy metal captured most of the popularity of the crowd.

Italian alternative rock bands of the 90s were well acclaimed among the critics. It was the first time Italian rock musicians gained a wider recognition. While Gianna Nannini was the first rocker to make a name for themselves outside of Italy, they paved a way for Italian musicians to leave a mark on the world music scene as rock gave way to the pop scene.

Today, rock is still not dead in Italy. In fact, melodic vibes of the indie scene have been incredible for the Italian artists. If indie isn’t your favorite sound, there are plenty of artists whose sound sticks more with the 90s and early 2000s! Here are some of them you should check out: