Dik Dik - History

History

The band was established in the early 1960s by Giancarlo "Lallo" Sbrizzolo and Pietro "Pietruccio" Montalbetti, who grew up in the same neighbourhood of Milan, in the Porta Genova-Lorenteggio area. They began playing in the "Beatlemania" years, and started out as a sort of The Beatles clone band, playing under different names, including "Dreamers" and "Squali" ("sharks"). Finally, they chose the name "Dik Dik" after the African antelope. Eventually, three other musicians joined in, namely Erminio "Pepe" Salvaderi on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, Mario Totaro on keyboards, and Sergio Panno on drums. With this line-up, in 1965 the band released with Ricordi Records their debut single, 1-2-3/Se rimani con me; 1-2-3 was a cover of Len Barry's song, while B side Se rimani con me was written by Lucio Battisti, who was at the time relatively unknown.

In 1966 Dik Dik released their first hit single Sognando la California, a cover of California Dreamin' by The Mamas & the Papas, with lyrics by Mogol. As a consequence of this huge success, the members of the band chose to give up their previous jobs and become full-time musicians. Side B of that single again featured a song by Battisti, Dolce di giorno.

After Sognando la California, Dik Dik released a string of very successful singles, mots of them covers, including Il mondo è con noi (1966), Inno (1967, cover of Let's go to San Francisco by The Flower Pot Men), Senza luce (1967, cover of A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum), Il vento (1968), and Il primo giorno di primavera (1969). In 1969 they performed with Rita Pavone at the Festival della canzone italiana in Sanremo. More successful singles are released in the following years, including L'isola di Wight (1970), Vendo casa (1972), Storia di periferia (1973), Help Me (1974), and Volando (1975, a cover of Sailing by Rod Stewart).

Their long-playing albums were not as successful. After their first three releases, collections of hit singles (published in 1967, 1969, and 1970 respectively) they released in 1972 their first studio album, Suite per una donna assolutamente relativa ("Suite for an absolutely relative woman"), which was an experiment in progressive rock. Suite was conceived as a concept album on "planet woman", with lyrics by poet Herbert Pagani; it was, anyway, very different from Dik Dik's previous production, and was somehow rejected by the audience, resulting in a commercial flop. As a consequence, the band thereafter returned to their earlier pop-beat style.

From the mid 1970s to the early 1980s the band experienced several personnel changes, with Panno and Totaro leaving in 1974 (replaced by Roberto "Hunka Munka" Carlotto on keyboards and Nunzio "Cucciolo" Favia on drums), and Sbriziolo leaving in 1978 (replaced by two guitarists, Roberto "Roby" Facini and Rosario Brancati). In 1980 Carlotto was replaced by the keyboard virtuoso Joe Vescovi, who had been collaborating with the band since 1974. In the same years, the band lost part of its appeal to the audience, partly as a consequence of ambitious experiments such as I'te vurria vasà (1976), which drastically departed from Dik Dik's tradition, and also as a consequence of the advent of disco music, which caused the decline of several rock-oriented bands.

After a couple of relatively successful singles, such as Laser vivente (1980) and Giornale di bordo (1982), the band essentially went on hiatus, with only Pietruccio, Pepe, and Lallo actively in the project. This trio released a few more singles such as L'amico mio (1983) and Senza luce... reggae (1984), and participated in the Musicaitalia per l'Etiopia humanitarian project for Ethiopia.

In 1986, Favia and Carlotto gave life to a major spin-off of the band, originally named "Carlotto e Cucciolo già Dik Dik" or simply "Dik Dik", which led to a legal quarrel about the ownership of the "Dik Dik" brand. The quarrel went on until 2006, when "Dik Dik" was finally reserved to Pietruccio, Pepe, and Lallo; Favia and Carlotto thus had to choose another name, "Già Dik Dik" ("Ex Dik Dik").

From the second half of the 1980s, the Dik Dik trio returned to the scenes participating in popular music revival television shows such as Una rotonda sul mare, until in 1993 they performed again at the Festival di Sanremo together with I Camaleonti, another historic band of the Italian 1960s-1970s, and Maurizio Vandelli from Equipe 84.

Dik Dik are still performing on television and playing live, and have occasionally released singles and albums, often with Vescovi on keyboards. In 1997 they have started their own web site.

In 2010, Pietruccio has published an autobiographical book about the history of the band, I ragazzi della via Stendhal ("The Boys from Via Stendhal"), in reference to the street of Milan where Lallo and Pietruccio grew up and met, Via Stendhal.

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