Adelmo Fornaciari is the real name of the talented Italian musician more commonly known to the world by his nickname Zucchero ("Sugar"), given to him by an elementary school teacher. He began playing the guitar in his home province of Reggio Emilia, focusing on music in the blues/R&B mold. As a teenager in the early '70s, he founded a local band called Le Nuove Luci. He formed another group, Sugar and Candies, in 1978, and began writing as well -- Italian pop songs for other artists, and more blues-oriented material for himself.
Zucchero garnered a great deal of success in 1981 when he won the Castrocaro Festival, which led to performances at the 1982 and 1983 Sanremo Festivals. Increased exposure gave him a chance to release his own solo album, 1983's Un Po' Di Zucchero. His song "Donne," performed with the newly formed Zucchero & the Randy Jackson Band, caused a sensation at the 1985 Sanremo Festival; even though "Donne" didn't win, it did become a hit. This introduced the Zucchero blend of Italian pop and electric blues to a larger audience.
During the late '80s and early '90s, he became one of the best-selling artists in Italy and a favorite all over Europe. He performed at 1994's Woodstock Festival, and appeared with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, the Scorpions, and Luciano Pavarotti; still, his worldwide audience remained limited. In the new millennium, Zucchero's success continued as a performer and an award-winning songwriter. In 2002, he released a very successful solo album, Shake. Three years later, Zu & Co. offered a collection of duets with some of his (mainly) non-Italian fans, including Eric Clapton, Macy Gray, and Sheryl Crow. It was followed in 2006 by Fly, recorded by Don Was in Los Angeles. Fly became a major hit, earning platinum in Switzerland and a rare diamond certification in Italy.
Naturally, Zucchero returned to California for his next major album, 2010's Chocabeck. Produced by Was, it included high-profile guests like Brian Wilson and Brendan O'Brien. The album topped the charts in Italy, and also proved popular in Germany and Switzerland. The 2012 album, La Sesiòn Cubana, was recorded entirely in Cuba, as was a live album, Una Rosa Blanca, which appeared in late 2013. ~ Aaron Latham