Italian singer Meri Marabini showed impeccable taste in her choice of material – covering songs by The Beatles, The Hollies and The Pretty Things convincingly. She remains best known, however, for her two-tone hair, for which she earned the nickname ‘the bicoloured beat girl’.
Meri Marabini was born on 7 May 1948 in Bologna. She enjoyed a passion for music from an early age and, after leaving school, she fronted a local band for a while.
During one of the group’s live appearances, she was spotted by a talent scout from the Carosello record label. He tempted her with the offer of a recording contract – but only on the condition that she ditch the rest of the group.
After agreeing, she was invited to cut her first single. The A-side, Mi manchi, was a confident version of The Beatles’ I need you, while the flip, È proprio inutile, was a cover of The Hollies’ You know he did. Issued in 1966, the record succeeded in gaining airplay and remains the singer’s best known 45.
In a bid to boost Meri’s profile, bosses at Carosello then put her forward to become part of established star Domenico Modugno’s team on the Scala reale TV show.
A second single – the terrific Sono io la tua donna, a version of The Pretty Things’ Come see me – was released to capitalise on her appearance.
A two-tone makeover
However, when the record failed to sell as well as she had hoped, more desperate action was called for. Whether the idea of having Meri sport two-tone hair came from the singer herself or from Carosello remains unclear. Either way, she was whisked into a salon to emerge with half a head of white hair and half a head of black – very much in the style of Cruela de Vil. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it would prove a look that would find few takers.
She debuted her new look on the cover of her third single, Una voce. Issued in 1967, the song was an original composition, but it was nowhere near as strong as its predecessors and sold poorly. (The flip, C’è tante gente, has proved the more popular side over time.)
Later that year, Meri cut one further single, Ti amo, mi ami, a version of British singer Samantha Jones’s highly catchy Surrounded by a ray of sunshine. However, the recording suffered from second-rate production and failed to reverse the singer’s fortunes.
It would prove Meri’s last recording. What became of her remains a mystery.
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