Mia Martini was born Domenica Berté in 1947 in Bagnara Calabra, a town at the toe of Italy’s boot. She was 16 years old when she recorded her first singles as Mimi Berté but it wasn’t until 1971 that her breakthrough came, along with a change of name.
By the time she first represented Italy at Eurovision in 1977 she had racked up six hit albums and was a successful recording artist, but her entry that year, Libera (see No. 379), failed to set the contest alight, finishing 13th.
In 1983, 20 years after her debut single, Martini announced her retirement from the music business. It was not to last long. By the end of the decade she was back at the San Remo festival, picking up the Critics’ Award for Almeno Tu Nell’universo, and again in 1992 she was runner-up with Gli Uomini Non Cambiano. The latter result led to her and the song’s writer Giancarlo Bigazzi teaming up again for that year’s Eurovision with Rapsodia.
The song is a dramatic ballad about two former lovers who accidentally meet again in a bar. Martini gives an impassioned performance reminiscent of Judy Garland and, like Garland, her story was also to end in tragedy. Three years later Martini was dead at 47, after suffering a heart attack brought on by an overdose of cocaine.