Salvatore “Toto” Cutugno, the winner of Eurovision 1990 and Eurovision 1991 cohost, sadly passed away on August 22nd 2023.

Cutugno’s musical career began as a drummer at the age of 19 when he founded his first band Toto e i Tati, and would also create the disco band Albatros a few years later with Lino Losito and Mario Limongelli. Alongside his performance career he began writing songs for large names like Joe Dassin, Johnny Hallyday, Domenico Modugno (Eurovision 1958 and 1959 participant), and Gigliola Cinquetti (Eurovision 1964 winner and 1974 participant).

In total he made fifteen appearances in the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, finishing second on six different occasions and winning the 1980 contest with his song “Solo noi”. One of the years he placed second was in 1990 – but due to the refusal of Sanremo winners Pooh to perform at Eurovision, Toto was ultimately invited to perform at the contest in Zagreb.

Following the invitation Cutugno changed his song to “Insieme: 1992”, a song written to celebrate the establishment of the European Union, and was accompanied by the group Pepel in kri who represented Yugoslavia in the 1975 contest. At the end of the night it received 149 total points, making him the oldest winner of the contest until the Olsen Brothers in 2000. This was also Italy’s second victory in the contest following Gigliola Cinquetti’s victory in 1964, with Maneskin being the country’s third victory in 2021.

In his career, Cutugno released seventeen studio solo albums and one studio album with Albatros. In 2013 he was awarded the lifetime career award at the Sanremo Music Festival that he loved so much. Considered an icon of the Italian music scene, Cutugno will be deeply missed.

The team at ESCUnited sends our deepest condolences to Toto’s family and friends during this time. 

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