She’s like a combination between The Beatles and Brenda Lee, a fan once said. Nonetheless, Rita Pavone might not be well known to American audiences.
The Italian singer rose to fame in her home nation in the 1960s before attempting to make it big in the US. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and scored several singles there.
She has performed alongside artists like Diana Ross and Paul Anka and received a painting that Elvis had personally signed as a gift.
Even though Pavone is a legend in her native country, she never really attained cult status in the US. What is she doing now, and how did she become a celebrity in the first place? Here’s all you need to know about Rita Pavone, including how she met Elvis.
Rita Pavone was born on August 23, 1945, in Turin, Italy. While Rita’s mother, Maria, stayed home to raise Rita and her three brothers, Perio, Carlo, and Cicco, her father, Giovanni Pavoni, worked at the city’s Fiat factory.
Legendary Italian Singer Rita Pavone
Pavone’s career as a performer was always in the cards. She started performing at various student events before moving on to several Turin bars.
Yet in 1962, as pop music gained worldwide popularity, thanks in large part to Elvis — with whom Pavone would later become friends — and The Beatles, her life was changed forever.
The first “Rally of the Unknown,” a talent contest, was scheduled to take place in Rome’s Ariccia neighborhood. Although Pavone and her mother weren’t entirely confident that music was the best path forward at the moment, more than 20,000 aspiring artists would take part.
“That was our last option. I nearly made the decision to give up everything. I started singing when I was nine years old, but I was never able to break out and gain more recognition than just the local level. My mother told me to put my dreams of fame on hold,” Pavone said.
But Rita’s father stood by her the entire time. He secretly sent a letter to Teddy Reno, the talent competition’s coordinator, outlining why his daughter should have been given a spot. The young, ambitious vocalist got her chance because it worked.
“I went there believing that this was my last opportunity. I would have gone back to Turin and, on the advice of my mother, probably got married, but I didn’t want to lose this opportunity,” Rita recalled.
I’m sure you can guess what happened afterward. Rita won the contest and gained instant fame. In just a few weeks, Rita recorded her debut album, which featured the hit track “La Partita di Pallone” (English: “The Ball Game”) and live performances by Rita as well as appearances on Italian television.
“To be a lady, you don’t have to wear a women’s dress”
“I still have no idea [what the key to my success was], and I still have no idea how to describe it. Wherever I went, from Brazil to England, from France to Germany, I was able to enter the international hit parades with songs that were either translated into new languages or created expressly for that market, Rita said.
“I was the first to be surprised by all of this interest in me. Maybe I had a certain kind of voice—cutting, a little high-pitched, but very personal.”
She continued, “I think my trump card was this strong personality. Being unique means being noticed.
But nowadays, there is a widespread tendency to mimic others, which eventually results in a lot of “photocopied products.” My face was also a cross between a girl’s and a boy’s, with red hair and freckles.
Later, when Rita entered the television industry, her beauty and appearance became a major talking point. She had the appearance of a girl or young woman known as a “tomboy,” which refers to someone with masculine characteristics.
Pavone once said, “You don’t have to dress like a woman to be a woman.
The 19-year-old Pavone immediately rose to fame after winning the talent competition and emerging as a major sensation in Italy.
She was given the opportunity to perform for RCA Records in the United States after selling hundreds of thousands of albums in Italy. Rita was regarded as the upcoming superstar by many.
As part of her album recording and nationwide Marketing trip, she also had the opportunity to appear on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show.
The Amazing Encounter With Elvis Presley
She also had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest singers in history. Rita shared the stage alongside Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Diana Ross, and The Supremes. She has made numerous appearances on the iconic Ed Sullivan Show and in performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The largest and most important meeting, however, didn’t take place on a stage. Rita Pavone instead met Elvis Presley, probably the biggest star in history, in a Nashville recording studio. Presley was one of Rita’s biggest inspirations.
Elvis presley songs are very popular at that time.
The world as a whole benefited from what the King of Rock music had to give. He was, without a doubt, among the best entertainers we have ever seen, and he had both talent and charisma.
Elvis Presley not only became a great music sensation with songs like Jailhouse Rock, In The Ghetto, Hound Dog, and Love Me Tender, but he also acted in a number of movies that advanced his career. These included, among other masterpieces, The Trouble with Girls (1969), Viva Las Vegas (1964), and King Creole (1958).
Unfortunately, Elvis died in August 1977, leaving the world to grieve the loss of a real entertainment legend.
When the musician purchased Graceland outside of Memphis, Tennessee, for $102,500 in 1959, it rose to become one of the most well-known places in the entire world. The Graceland museum claims that Elvis moved in on June 26, 1957, and remained there until his tragic death.
Priscilla, his ex-wife, and two executors turned it into a museum in 1982, just a few years after Elvis’ death, in order to preserve the estate and his memory.
The total square footage of Graceland is 17,552, and it contains 23 rooms. Attracting about 600,000 visitors a year, it is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US.
According to reports, only the White House receives more visitors than this one. Almost 22 million people from around the world have come through since it opened in 1982.
According to reports, the Presley family spends about $500,000 a year maintaining the mansion.
Rita Pavone, an Italian who didn’t speak English at the time, overheard Brenda Lee chatting about Elvis while Rita was in the studio with her producer, Chet Atkins, in the “Music City.” Rita was confused as to why, though.
Elvis was apparently scheduled to stop by the same recording studio. As she learned the news through her interpreter, Pavone jumped with excitement.
“I felt a chill come over me because I wanted to meet him. As a result, I went to Chet Atkins and asked him to tell me when he had met him in the past, Rita said.
“He swore he didn’t want to be disturbed, they said, and I saw a group of people arming themselves as if they were getting ready for the Normandy landing.
“I started crying like a baby, telling them I couldn’t let such a chance pass me by, and I succeeded in persuading them, although they still gave me a lot of advice.
“I waited until midnight in the RCA studios until they entered: first, his lawyer, his secretary, his sound engineer, and all of his crew,” Rita Pavone continued. Then him.
“He had yellow Ray-Bans, which I had never seen before, and his sideburns were gorgeous. He entered and welcomed us before approaching me.
“He was really kind when I asked to take a picture of him and assured me that I could have even more. He then called his secretary, who handed me a canvas with the words “Best wishes to Rita” written on it before he left.
Elvis Revealed To Rita That He Knew Her
Rita Pavone is quite attached to the canvas, and seeing Elvis was, of course, amazing.
“I have it at home!” My son, who is quite pragmatic and realistic, said he’d sell it once I passed away. That surprised me that a man of that prominence and stature could be so humble,” she said.
Millions of Elvis fans throughout the world have wished to meet the singer. Rita’s wish was granted, but if Elvis’ management had his way, Rita would never have had the opportunity.
Apparently, Elvis’s manager didn’t even want his client to meet Rita. Elvis said the most amazing thing when they finally met, though.
The renowned Colonel Parker, his manager, forbade me from meeting him. Yet, as soon as he left the studio, he recognized me and said, “But I know you!” The Ed Sullivan Show was attended by you. Elvis knew me as being there. I asked him for a picture, but he also gave me one of his paintings,” Pavore recalled.
For the Italian singer, everything went perfectly. In 1966, she had three songs in the UK charts: Datemi un Martello, Viva La Pappa Col Pomodoro, and Cuore. The next several songs were all hits, topping the charts in nations like Brazil and Germany.
The US was difficult to penetrate, as was already mentioned. Becoming the next big thing was extremely challenging at the time because “Beatlemania” was conquering the nation.
The Controversial Marriage Of Rita Pavone
Rita simply never experienced great success in the US, and after five years, she made the decision to move back to Italy.
There, she shot to fame on television. The singer made her television debut in the 1965 program Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca and went on to star in a number of other programs and motion pictures.
Rita also met her true love when she got back to Italy. Do you still recall Teddy Reno, the person who initially permitted her entry into the talent contest all those years ago? As time passed, their love grew as he took on the role of her manager.
The pair eventually were married in 1968, despite the fact that their union was very controversial among friends and family.
Rita was over 20 years younger than Teddy. Despite the fact that they had been dating since the early 1960s, the age gap was nevertheless rather controversial at the time. Rita’s father was upset that she and Teddy were considering getting married when she returned to Italy after meeting Elvis.
Pavone’s father was against it and even threatened to disrupt the wedding in any way he could. Yet as the years went by, he came to understand that doubting his daughter had been a mistake.
“He visited our home in Switzerland one day and admitted he had made a mistake. Rita recounted that her father “tried everything, he didn’t want me to get married, and then he realized that everyone must make their own decisions.
Rita Pavone Now
For many years, Pavone had a successful career. She declared her stage retirement in the middle of the 2000s.
She came back seven years later, and in 2016 she participated in the Italian edition of Dancing with the Stars.
She gave two performances: one in 2020 at the renowned Sanremo Festival and one in a Christmas special the following year. She and her spouse Teddy currently reside in Ticino, Switzerland.
We are thrilled that Rita Pavone was able to meet and spend time with Elvis Presley. Rita Pavone has a truly remarkable career.
How do you feel after reading this amazing story of Rita Pavone? What’s your favorite song of hers? Please let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to spread the news so that we can hear from more people.