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Biagio Antonacci, fear of flying

This interview with Biagio Antonacci was published in issue 11 of Vanity Fair of 16 March 2006 and we are republishing it today to retrace the changes of which Vanity has been the protagonist in the last 20 years. Here are all the articles we are republishing.

«A month before he died, Marco called me. I know this because I saw his number pop up on my cell phone. I couldn’t answer, I thought: I’ll call him back. Then, as often happens, that phone call slipped my mind. When, a few weeks later, I learned that he had died, alone, in a room in a residence, I suddenly remembered it. And I wondered what would happen if I answered. Maybe he was calling to ask me for help, or to see us: I’ll never know. Since then I have had a great sense of guilt.”

«One day a record company called me and said: “There’s a guy who made a song about you. In addition to your name, he mentions two of your pieces. Do you authorize us to release the album?”. I couldn’t believe it, I thought: this guy is going to fuck with me. But the following week they sent me Simone’s tape to listen to: practically a hymn dedicated to me. I was so excited that, to launch it, I invited him to open my Roman concert, in front of ten thousand people. At the end of his performance, there was a roar.”

«Eros and I once fought. It happened eight years ago, after a ball match with the national singers team. We often argued because we never passed the ball to each other on the pitch; one day, after the match, he told me, as a Scorpio, a somewhat nervous phrase and, as a Scorpio, I reacted badly. They had to divide us. We didn’t speak to each other for a month, until he called me to apologize.”

Biagio Antonacci is 42 years old and has many friends. The Marco with whom the interview begins is Marco Pantani, the cyclist who died of an overdose in a residence in Rimini on Valentine’s Day two years ago. Simone is Simone Cristicchi, the author of the hit I would like to sing like Biagio Antonacci, a success that allowed him to arrive at the Sanremo Festival this year, and to bring his Che bella gente to the final. Eros, there’s no need to explain it, is Ramazzotti; They have known each other for 13 years and what they have in common, in addition to music, is their age (both born in ’63, both Scorpios), the fact of having grown up in the suburbs (Biagio in Rozzano, near Milan, Eros in Rome), and that they both have a union behind them that made them fathers. Antonacci, in fact, was Marianna Morandi’s partner for ten years and with her he had two sons, Paolo, 10 years old and Giovanni, 5. But there is an important difference between him and Ramazzotti: the Roman singer had success at a very young age, at 21, Biagio only after thirty, and after starting out as a surveyor.

Today little remains of that life: Antonacci is a celebrity, just like Cristicchi sings. His latest album, Living together, divided into two parts (the first released in 2004, the second in 2005), has sold one million two hundred thousand records: no one in Italy has done better than him in the last two years. However, Antonacci’s life today is also, above all, the life of a single forty-year-old. He almost never dines at home and almost always with friends, all male and mostly bachelors. They also go on holiday together, usually to the seaside and to Italy, because Biagio is afraid of flying. Yet today we are on a plane. We go to Catania to take the photos you see on these pages. While waiting for take-off, Biagio, wearing jeans and a sports sweatshirt, even seems relaxed: he reads the newspapers and signs autographs. But it is an apparent calm, his brother Graziano, who acts as his manager, explains to me; in fact, when we turn onto the track, he drops his phone and starts biting his nails

Are you really afraid of flying?
«Especially on long journeys. In fact, I have never been to New York.”

Other phobias?
«I live with the anxiety of being late. Result: I always arrive well early for appointments. My friends hate me.”

Is it okay to be single at your age?
«Yes, especially if you are leaving a long relationship with a woman; I personally felt the need for a bit of lightness.”

Is it lighter now?
«Yes, even if I haven’t yet understood what I really prefer: being as a couple or alone. Maybe the problem is that I always want what I don’t have at that moment.”

At 40 you usually take stock of your life. Did this happen to you too?
«I did it and I understood a lot. First, that I never wanted to fully grow up. I maintained too close a bond with my family of origin: I am linked to my mother by an umbilical cord, it had to be detached and I didn’t do it.”

«If I have to move house, I call my mother immediately; if I have to buy a piece of furniture I don’t do it before asking her for an opinion. It comes naturally to me, but today I realize that this has taken away a bit of my personality.”

It must have been difficult for his women.
“Indeed. Do you think that I have never dedicated a song to a woman I was in love with, while I wrote for my mother The things you loved most. I also wanted her as the protagonist of the video.”

And what is his mother doing in the video?
“Nothing. She is sitting next to me, she is looking at me. She has always influenced me. To say: if I took the initiative with a woman and didn’t let her participate, then I felt she was critical.”

Did you like your exes?
«The ones I was with for a long time, yes, the ones I didn’t like I dumped».

Are you serious?
«I’ve done worse. In my companions I have always looked for her, my mother; I wanted someone who spoiled me in the same way, who was equally good at cooking and pampering me, in short, a geisha.”

Did you understand this after the end of your relationship with Marianna Morandi?
“I would say yes. I have been alone for four years. Even though I recently got into a relationship with a woman who makes me laugh a lot; she is 29 years old but she is a mother, and this is important: she understands the relationship I have with my children.”

Do you want to tell me who you are?
«I prefer not to, because it’s a bit early and in reality I still feel single, in fact I live on my own. And then I’m jealous of my private life. Just think, when Marianna and I had our first child, I forbade her to talk about it or show it to journalists. One day, however, at her father’s house, a photographer who claimed to be a family friend asked her if he could take a photo of her with her baby, which he would give as a souvenir of her. She trusted her, but a month later the photo was in a newspaper. She was terrified of how I would react: she called me in tears.”

You separated in 2002, the same year in which the marriage between your friend Ramazzotti and Michelle Hunziker ended.
«Yes, and in fact we helped each other a lot, defending each other from those who criticized us. And keeping us company.”

What memories do you have of that period?
«We were amazed at feeling like young parents, yet free and beautiful, and courted. When I broke up with Marianna I remember thinking: “The fun is over, I’m a family man now.” And yet women are even more attracted to single dads. But Eros and I also suffered, because we both think that the breakup of a family is still a defeat.”

Did you ever talk about why your relationships ended?
“Continuously. And the conclusion was that we are difficult people and that being with us can be a nightmare.”

«We are two men with many demands and a good dose of selfishness; we wanted to be loved in a certain way and we were not understood. When love is not reciprocated on the same frequency, misunderstandings arise. I believe that both Michelle and Marianna still loved us, but our couples no longer communicated.”

How did you meet Ramazzotti?
«Thanks to the National Singers Team. It was ’92 and he was already famous, I wasn’t yet. We immediately became familiar because we had many things in common, but we were the two strikers of the team and therefore there was a bit of competition: the fight I was telling you about dates back to eight years ago. After that clash, however, we became even closer friends.”

Who is better at football?
“He. Eros has football in his blood, while I had almost never played before; I tried hard to improve, but it’s not the same.”

He grew up in the suburbs and didn’t play football. How did he spend his childhood?
«To play. At ten years old I was already a drummer in a band; music served to distract me from dangerous temptations, from drugs. But then, when I grew up, when my parents understood that I wanted to be a professional singer, they made war on me. My mother told me: “You will end up like those who play the guitar outside the churches”.

Instead he did it. What effect does it have on hearing your name in the title of a song? «Beautiful, because it usually only happens to legendary songwriters. I owe a lot to Cristicchi: he gave me a lot of publicity. Not to mention that now even the very young people know me. Do you know how many children ask me: are you the Antonacci of the song?

Professional success will also have brought her more women.
«No, I’ve always had those. I’ve been with all the women I wanted and I’ve never been dumped, unfortunately.”

«Leaving a woman is devastating for me; afterwards, I feel guilty.”

And sex? After forty, does it become less important?
“In reverse. I think my way of making love is better than ten years ago; I feel at the peak of my manhood.”

Even when he does concerts every night?
“I recently discovered that the more sex you have, the more you want to have it. If I haven’t done it for a while, I might as well forget about it.”

He talks about virility, but many of his song lyrics sound like they were written by a woman. How big is the feminine part of her?
“Very; she protects me from men and helps me with women. Some of my songs are born from the woman in me. As Between you and the seawhich I wrote for Laura Pausini.”

He also wrote for Pausini Live me, the album’s lead single which recently earned her the Grammy Award. Do you often write for other singers?
«At the beginning of my career I did it to earn money; today it almost doesn’t happen anymore. Laura is an exception, because she is a friend.”

Speaking of friendships: how did the one with Marco Pantani begin?
«He had come to a concert in Bologna. He had stopped by the dressing room to meet me. We had found each other nice; it was he who made me passionate about cycling. Who would have imagined what would happen?”.

Have you ever had moments of depression?
“Never. Having had success late, I have always remained with my feet on the ground.”

And how will we see ourselves in ten years?
«I would like to test myself in some new art form».

For example?
“The cinema. This summer I came close. I was getting off a plane, stunned by the tranquilizer I took to avoid panicking, and Giuseppe Tornatore called me. He offers me a part in his next film, The unknown. I say, “I can’t, I don’t know how to act.” And he said: “No problem, they pay me to teach you”. The dream didn’t last long: the filming would overlap with my concert dates and the tickets had already been sold. I didn’t feel like deleting them.”

Out of curiosity, was he supposed to play himself?
«No, that was the cool thing. She made me act like a criminal lunatic; I’m sure he would have suited me very well.”

Source: Vanity Fair

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