Mina is one of Italy’s biggest stars of all time, scoring dozens of hits from the late 1950s to the present day. Her mid-1960s material is, arguably, her best.
She was born Mina Mazzini in Busto Arsizio, in northern Italy, on 25 March 1940 and grew up in Cremona.
Her recording career began in 1958, initially under the name Baby Gate, and she enjoyed a small hit the following year with Dance darlin’ dance. After taking Mina as her stage moniker, she had a few more small hits, and at the end of 1959, she topped the charts with Tintarella di luna.
A string of top ten successes followed, including Coriandoli, Due note and È vero (which she performed at the San Remo song contest) before Mina topped the charts again with Il cielo in una stanza, in October 1960, which became the biggest seller in Italy that year.
She enjoyed further hits and, in 1962, she launched a successful career in Germany, where Heißer Sand went to number one and spent over half a year on the charts. She also began re-recording her hits in Spanish around this time.
At home, after scoring a top five hit with Stessa spiaggia, stesso mare in 1963, her career took a severe knock when her relationship with the actor Carrado Pani who was married, though separated from his wife, became known. She was banned from state television RAI.
Eventually, the broadcaster relented and lifted its ban, and a change of record label, to Rifi, marked her rehabilitation. For many, the move also signified the beginning of Mina’s golden era.
Città vuota, a cover of Gene McDaniels’ It’s a lonely town, issued in early 1964, returned the singer to the upper reaches of the Italian charts.
A homecoming on the public’s television screens performing È l’uomo per me, a cover of He walks like a man, an American non-hit for Jody Miller, took Mina to the top of the charts later that year and became the biggest-selling single of 1964 in Italy.
In 1965 she presented the music television programme Studio uno and issued an album of the same name. It included her recent singles, plus covers of Brit girl Cilla Black’s It’s for you (Se che mi vuoi) and US singer Tracey Dey’s I won’t tell (Più di te). The moody Un anno d’amore, a first-rate cover of French singer Nino Ferrer’s C’est irreparable, also included on the album, topped the singles charts in May. Even its B-side, the more traditional E se domani, charted in its own right and has gone on to become considered something of a classic.
She scored several further top 20 hits that year, with Soli, Un bacio è troppo poco and Ora o mai più.
Top ten hits continued throughout 1966 – with standout songs including Se telefonando in April 1966 (which was covered with great success in France by Françoise Hardy, as Je changerai d’avis) and Sono come tu mi vuoi in October 1966.
La banda, a cover of a Brazilian hit for Chico Buarque da Hollanda, in August 1967. (France Gall enjoyed a big German hit with a German-language version of the song, as A banda.)
However, by this time Mina’s records weren’t reaching the top ten with the same frequency as they had before, and it was another three years until she topped the charts again, this time with Insieme, in August 1970.
She went on to score hits throughout the 1970s, the occasional hit in the 1980s and 90s, before making a huge chart comeback in 2002.
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