Artist

SEMIRAMIS

1971-72:
Michele Zarrillo (guitar, vocals)
Maurizio Zarrillo (keyboards)
Marcello Reddavide (bass)
Memmo Pulvano (drums)

1973:
Pulvano replaced by
Paolo Faenza (drums, percussion, vibes)
Giampiero Artegiani (acoustic guitar, synth)

Few of his fans know that Michele Zarrillo, a very popular singer in Italy during the 80's and still active, recorded his first album with his band Semiramis in 1973 when only 16-year old.
Semiramis was a teenagers five-piece from Rome mainly based on the guitar of Michele Zarrillo and twin keyboards of Giampiero Artegiani and Michele's brother Maurizio Zarrillo.

The basic nucleus had been formed around 1970 by Maurizio Zarrillo and cousins Reddavide and Pulvano, all of them being 15-year old, and their first singer was Maurizio Macos (real name Macioce). In 1972 they were joined by Michele Zarrillo, younger brother of keyboardist Maurizio, that had previously played with I Piccoli Lord and considered a gifted guitarist. 
The name Semiramis was chosen, from
a queen of Babylon, and the group even played at Rome historical Villa Pamphili festival in 1972, but original drummer Pulvano had to leave the musical career as he was the only one with a regular job.

He was replaced by a long time friend of the group, Paolo Faenza, who took with him another keyboardist, Giampiero Artegiani, to enrich the group's sound.

Released by Trident label the album, Dedicato a Frazz, had a nice gatefold cover designed by Gordon Faggetter, an English painter based in Rome and working with RCA
Complex rhythm changes and a good guitar/keyboards interplay are the main ingredients of this album, not perfectly produced but still regarded by many as one of the top Italian prog LP's.

The band had an intense live activity in most of the major open-air festivals of the time, and kept playing even after the album release until 1974, with newcomers Toni Massarutto on bass and Giulio Ferrarin on keyboards, but the latest line-up was shortlived and the group broke up.

Michele Zarrillo was then briefly in a later incarnation of Rovescio della Medaglia, and after some years, around 1980, started a successful career as a melodic pop artist, followed by Giampiero Artegiani that had a series of solo releases in the same vein along with a production work.
Original drummer Memmo Pulvano still keeps playing in various 60's and 70's music bands.

A Semiramis reunion project conceived and announced by Giampiero Artegiani and Paolo Faenza since 2013, was finally realized with a concert in Rome in September 2014, including another original member, Maurizio Zarrillo, and with help from Vito Ardito (vocals), Antonio Trapani (guitars), Ivo Mileto (bass), Daniele Sorrenti (keyboards and flute).

 

 

LP
Dedicato a Frazz Trident (TRI 1004) 1973 gatefold cover
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1004 LP) 2005 reissue of the above with gatefold cover - first issue on black vinyl, second issue on green vinyl
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1004 LP) 2012 new reissue with gatefold cover - exists on black or red vinyl - custom colour label


CD
Dedicato a Frazz Vinyl Magic (VM 007) 1989 reissue of 1973 album - now deleted
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1004) 2001 as above
  BTF/Trident (TRI 1004) 2006 new reissue with mini-LP gatefold cover


VARIOUS ARTISTS COMPILATION ALBUMS
Progressivamente 1973-2003
(with Luna park)
Progressivamente (GMP 002) 2004 CD compilation of unreleased recordings, also includes Gianni Leone/Leo Nero, Osanna, Alberomotore, Metamorfosi and others

 

An ultrarare album, Dedicato a Frazz has a gatefold cover with a distinctive design by the English artist Gordon Faggetter. The album was announced by some magazines with the title, then modified, Frazz al luna park.
The album was never issued in any foreign countries and only in 2005 received its first official Italian vinyl reissue by BTF. This was reprinted in 2006 on green vinyl.
Since 2012 the BTF LP, with a new reissue on black or red vinyl, has a custom label reproducing the cover design rather than the classic Trident logo.
The same record company also reissued the album on CD with a mini-LP gatefold cover in 2006, a previous reissue from 2001 had a standard jewel case.

As most of the Trident releases the album has been repressed/counterfeited near the end of the 80's, and this reissue is very convincing unless compared side-by-side (a very difficult thing to do!) with an original. The label has some differences, though, as pointed out in the Trident label page
The covers are almost identical, showing the reissue was made by competent hands (or even, as some insist, by an original matrix); both have an all white spine with no group or record title and just the catalogue number written DISCO: TRN 1004 in black letters. As TRN was the prefix used for the Trident singles, this was covered in some copies by a sticker carrying the correct TRI 1004 number. If your cover is original you can have the sticker or at least see its traces (but remember that not all of the original covers were stickered). Reissue cover has the wrong number printed. In all other aspects (including size, paper type, colour) the covers seem identical.

The album was reissued on CD reissue by the Japanese label Arcangelo (ARC-7003) with a mini-LP gatefold cover.

The album was also issued in 8-track cartridge version on Trident with number TRE 1004 and a different, all white, cover.

Dedicato a Frazz - LP

Dedicato a Frazz - inner gatefold

Original cover's spine detail with catalogue number sticker Original LP label

Dedicato a Frazz - 8-track cartridge

 

An interview with Memmo Pulvano, by Augusto Croce, September 2003

1-How did you start playing?

We were 15-year old, Marcello Reddavide, Maurizio Zarrillo and me, when we started doing covers of English and American rock groups, and our sound improved day by day. 
Marcello, that was my cousin, switched on bass, Maurizio had a Farfisa organ and above all a garage that we used as rehearsal room, and we tried many guitarists. 
Maurizio's younger brother Michele, was then playing in a group of young kids, I Piccoli Lord, but he was already a monster guitarist! Once he came in while we were rehearsing, took over the guitar and started playing with us. Since that day he's stayed with our group.
He was 15 year old, and we were 17, and he wrote the song we played at Villa Pamphili festival, went on keyboard and showed his brother how to play it, then made the same with Marcello and with me, he was a prodigy, believe me!

2-Who chose the group's name?

It was Marcello, he said he had read it on an encyclopedia and we all liked it, this was where Semiramis was born.

3-Which were your musical inspirations?

Before we started playing our own songs, we used to play the songs of the most popular groups at the time: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, C.C.R., Stones, and even some Italian ones, Le Orme, Formula Tre, Lucio Battisti
Then Michele joined the group and we started playing HIS songs.

4-What do you remember of the legendary Villa Pamphili concert?

I could play there with the drum kit of Banco's drummer. I remember that there were all Ludwig drums on the stage, and I came with my cheap Hollywood and felt all the eyes on me! But the drummer of Banco came to me and said I could use his kit, I was excited!
We had a 24 minute song to play there, at the sound check Michele made an astonishing solo, and all the technicians stopped their work to listen to him, you know he was only 15! But I remember noticing that some popular guitarists said to the sound engineers to turn the volume down....
Then the show began, and when our turn came we were very excited: we had just played in front of small audiences, and there were lots of people there! People sitting on the grass and you couldn't even see the lawn!
We started playing, and I had behind me the best Italian drummers, and they were watching me. It was incredible, my favourite drummers were listening at me! At the end some of them came to me congratulating, it was very satisfying because I was a self-taught drummer.
Our song ended with a long guitar solo, it was common at the time, and Michele played it perfectly, but the engineers turned down the volume, it was due to the other guitarists' pressures I had noticed before! Michele was really angry for this, but they told us we had played too much. I was very sad then, but after a while Banco del Mutuo Soccorso started playing and it was a pleasure!

5-Can you remember some other interesting groups at the festival?

Il Punto, they played at Villa Pamphili with the original guitarist Vincenzo Pagliarini, a bass player that I didn't know and drummer Claudio Mastracci from I Teoremi. He's played with Rettore and Sergio Caputo [both very popular artists in Italy] later, and in the TV show La Corrida. He's still now a very popular drum teacher.

6-How come you quit Semiramis?

I was the only one in the band who had a job, I remember that Michele was disappointed for my decision, we were all friends, two brothers and two cousins and we knew each other since children.
Anyway I was replaced by another friend of ours, Paolo Faenza, and he took with him Giampiero Artegiani, who's had like Michele a very successful career in the Italian music scene. I kept following them until they split.

7-Did you keep playing after leaving Semiramis?

I still play now, at 49, in various pubs in Rome, with a David Bowie cover band called The Allad Insane, and with a R&B band, but I switched from drums to percussion, is much more funny!

8-Why do you think Semiramis have never become successful at the time?

I don't know, when I left the band they were at their top, but I'm not sure of the reason why they split, maybe it was the record company who just wanted Michele, as HE was Semiramis! 
This is demonstrated by the fact that he had composed songs for popular artists since he was very young, and then he released his debut single Maledetta signora under the name of Andrea Zarrillo, the rest is history.

9-Have you ever thought of joining back the other Semiramis members and reform the group?

We have often talked about this, and this was more for our satisfaction than for the audience, but we could never manage to do anything. We are all happy of the way things have gone, and very happy for Michele, because we were his first fans and followers. 
I just want to tell you a small story about Michele, around five years ago he came for a concert in a town near the place where I was on holiday. I went there with some other people, and after the concert we queued up to meet him for an autograph. I talked with one of the security and Michele let me go in to meet him. We embraced, and after he had signed the autographs he introduced me to the rest of his band, saying I had been one of his favourite drummers, I introduced him to my friends, we had a drink together, talked of the past memories and then back home!!

 

Singer Michele Zarrillo has his own website at http://www.michelezarrillo.com

 

Many thanks to Memmo Pulvano for the friendly collaboration with the interview and plenty of information on the birth of Semiramis. 
Also thanks to Maurizio Macos for information on the early days of the group and to Mauro Degrassi and Pierre Tassone for help.