Born: 1952, Montreal
- 2 Juno Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year (1976 and 79)
- Four songs that made the year-end Top 100 prior to 1986 (CHUM FM)
“I Just Wanna Stop” (1978)
- #1 Hit in Canada; #4 in the U.S.
Some Other Hits:
- “People Gotta Move” (1974)
- “Wheels of Life” (1979)
- “Living Inside Myself” (1981)
- “Black Cars” (1985)
- “Hurts to Be in Love” (1985)
- “Wild Horses” (1987)
Powerful, nearly 3 octave singer Gino Vannelli, is an Italian-Canadian from Montreal and is known for his Robert Charlebois hairstyle and distinctive music style. He has toured with Stevie Wonder and been nominated for a handful of Grammy Awards.
Musical talents ran in the family as Gino’s father was a big band musician. Gino developed a passion for music in his childhood and began learning percussion. At age 12 he had formed a rock band called The Cobras with his brother Joe on keyboards. Gino also began learning piano and guitar and started singing. By the age of 15, he began composing. At age 16, he signed a deal with RCA but sought a wider audience and, later, while studying music theory at the prestigious McGill University, headed down to the U.S. in search of an American deal. He waited outside A&M headquarters in Los Angeles early in the morning. When co-owner Herb Alpert arrived for work, Gino begged him for an audition. Alpert was impressed and a deal was struck. In 1973, his debut album, Crazy Life, was released.
For most of Gino’s career, his brother Joe served as arranger and keyboardist. In the early 70s, little rock music incorporated synthesizers, and Vannelli wanted to create a distinctive sound. Joe helped to create a progressive texture of sound, using synthesizers, that fulfilled Gino’s vision. When this was combined with Gino’s background in jazz, it created a very unique brand of jazz-inflected electronic pop.
With his second album, released the following year, its lead single “People Gotta Move” was a big hit in Canada and broke into the Top 30 in the U.S.
Ambitiously, Vannelli released an album a year but it wasn’t until his sixth album, Brother to Brother, that he surpassed the success of “People Gotta Move”. His biggest hit to date, “I Just Wanna Stop” (Grammy-nominated) as well as “Wheels of Life” helped propel the album into the U.S. #13 spot and it was certified platinum in early 1979.
Another American Top 10 hit followed in 1981, “Living Inside Myself”. Its album, Nightwalker, made it to #15 in the Billboard 200. At this point Vannelli was experiencing record company problems which delayed further album releases for four years. He returned to form in the middle of the decade with Black Cars. Its title track and “Hurts to Be in Love” were big hits in Canada (#6 and #14 respectively). Gino Vannelli’s last big hit came in 1987—”Wild Horses”—a Top 10 hit around the world. The latter two albums hit home more especially with Europeans and he began touring the continent vigorously.