Stefano Damia (vocals, guitar)
Enzo Giancaterina (guitar, vocals)
Alessandro Rossetti (keyboards, vocals)
Massimo Valentini (bass, vocals)
Alessandro Gramolini (drums)
A quintet from Rome, The Pennies were formed in 1967.
They released the first single on the small Mark Tre label (a subsidiary of It), a cover of The boxer by Simon & Garfunkel.
The group had an intense live activity, both in clubs and in some festivals,
including the 1st Viareggio Pop Festival, and their only album was issued in
March/April 1972, entirely sung in English and strongly
influenced from the late 60's English pop/psych music, but it went unnoticed.
One of the songs, Photograph, was especially written for them by Amedeo Minghi (later a very popular singer in Italy), before his solo career, but Minghi never played in the group. The split came just when the group was thinking of releasing the Italian version of the album, with help from Minghi himself.
|The five pennies opera||Mark Tre (ZSLK 55092)||1972||gatefold cover|
SINGOLI (with picture cover)
Un minuto di libertą
|Mark Tre (ZK 50083)||1971||both unreleased tracks|
A rather rare album, just like the only single released
by the group, The five pennies opera has never been reissued on vinyl or CD. The
album was pressed in 5000 copies, all sold out.
No counterfeits exist or foreign issues.
Most of the album tracks are credited to Dinamo (nickname of composer Gianni Marchetti). Some of these were later included in the soundtrack of the 1975 movie Emanuelle e Franēoise le sorelline (released abroad as Emanuelle's Revenge) directed by Joe D'Amato, and in the end titles they're credited to a "Joe Dynamo".
Some questions to Alessandro Rossetti, by Augusto Croce, September 2005
1-What are your recollections of the Pennies' early days?
First of all, our group was formed in 1967, we were 18 and obsessed by the
Beatles, above all we were friends with a dream, the release of our own record!
We didn't have anything, scratch instruments, no amps.
Then, slowly, practicing, rehearsing, listening, we grew up a little bit, and started playing in the basements. Rome saw a flourishing of basements in those years, where the boys used to meet and play together, so great was their passion for music. In Monte Mario there was a group of friends of ours that had a basement where they used to meet during the week, and on sundays they used to dance with a record player...they were our first fans.
Coming back from a music contest, one of many we won, they decided that the basement had to be renamed to "Pennies Club", in our honor, and that we had to be honorary members. Our dream was to be realized!
It was there that the five Pennies were born and grown. On sundays there were the concerts, with a paying audience. In short, in just a few months that place was popular all around Rome. From there we flied off, we started our journey, first in other basements, then some bigger venue, and our name, the Pennies, was always more popular among the young boys that used to follow us everywhere.
At one time, we didn't have money, we were still underage, and Musicarte (the biggest and most popular music shop in Rome) couldn't sell us the professional instruments that we wanted to play, so a fan/friend of ours, one Enzo Vita, later lead guitarist with Rovescio della Medaglia, offered us to back the bills needed to buy all the instruments.
2-And then came the records.....
The Pennies were by now professional musicians, we had a first class
equipment for the time, including a Ford van! Then the large venues came, the
Piper, the Titan, Il Gattopardo (now called Gilda),.... Even a deal with a
record company, our dream had come true!
So we made our first record, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's The boxer, recorded at RCA, our myth!
And then the concerts out of Rome, in Cagliari, Ischia, Capri, and in 1971 we played at the Viareggio Pop Festival with the best Italian groups. And our record was played in some important radio broadcasts like Supersonic and Long Playing.
We were now ready to make something much more demanding, an LP!!! Just think......from nought to an LP......
We had many original songs that we carefully arranged, recording a tape that we took to It (our record company) to submit them to Vincenzo Micocci [the label founder].
3-You met other musicians, including Amedeo Minghi...
Yes, when we were at It we knew many friends soon to become popular, friends
such as Antonello Venditti, Edoardo De Angelis, I Vianella, Francesco De Gregori,
Amedeo Minghi and many others.
Amedeo was a great admirer of ours, so much that, knowing that we were to record an LP, he offered us a song that, he said, was perfect for us, The photograph. The lyrics were written by Lally Stott of the Motowns [an English group based in Italy].
Those were the years when the English groups used to be immensely popular, so our record company decided to give us out as an English band, we had a good pronunciation and so.....we made an album all sung in English.
Later Amedeo offered us to remake the album in Italian, he would have produced it.
4-And what happened then?
Unfortunately, the initial enthusiasm faded, even because of some decisions
taken by our record company and so.....on 6th January 1972, we were playing at
Gattopardo, we decided to split.
We also collaborated with many artists in the recording of their records, Rosalino [later Ron] in his first single born out of his collaboration with Lucio Dalla, Piero Ciampi, Marisa Sannia and others.
This is, briefly, our story.....it could have been much better!
5-How many copies were sold of the LP?
5000 copies, it was the number of copies of any initial pressing from RCA.
Click on pictures to enlarge
A website on this group can be visited at www.pennies.8m.com
Thanks very much to Alessandro Rossetti
for the precious information, pictures and interview.
Also thanks to Giorgio Meloni for additional information on the group.