In Memoriam: Franco De Gemini (1928-2013)
The 20th of July of 2013, Franco De Gemini died, the famous «Harmonica Man«, with legendary works in cinema like Once Upon A Time in the West or Per un pugno di dollari. A great Voice was silenced by the death, but in our minds always remains his big and unique talent.
To talk about the memories of this fantastic artist, we have called Filippo De Masi, son of famous Francesco De Masi, one the best talented composers of Italy.
Here you have a brief biography of our new guest, Filippo, and a fantastic and emotive tribute to the memory of Franco de Gemini. That’s really great, and We hope you enjoy.
Thank you very much, Filippo. And special thanks to Rafael Martinez for the recomendation of Filippo for this great tribute.
Brief Biography About Filippo De Masi
I was born in Rome in 1967. At the age of 7 I started my carrear in Cinema giving my voice for dubbing almost 100 film (Jaw 2 – Mazinger – Kiashan – ecc.).
After classic formation, I made veterinary university, but after 4 years I started to work for Cinema like assistent-director of Neri Parenti for Fantozzi alla riscossa and many others titles.
In 1992 I started to work for RAI italian television like director of some radio and television programs. Now I’m the director of four programs of Rai2: Voyager, Inside the world, A like adventure and Ragazzi c’è Voyager! I directed in 2010 a horror movie: Th3 Pit and I write for many discographic labels the CD notes for soundtracks.
Tribute to Fanco De Gemini (1928-2013)
Franco De Gemini was one of the most biggest interpreters of harmonica not only in Italy, but all over the world and of all time. His way of playing one particular instrument so made it an icon of the music and not just western.
With my father worked for at least one hundred films, and if it is true that 42 were of western genre, the other not. My father met him many years ago when Franco still playing the harmonica; it was a hobby and not a profession, he was a salesman.
Between the two was born just a great friendship that went far beyond the professional relationship. Dad, at the end of the 50s, composed the soundtracks of no less than 30 films a year, and introduced him to Franco, a person of great intelligence, he was able to make the most of the occasion. He opened a publishing company and threw himself into the fray. Only in this greasy arrived Morricone and the legendary harmonica of his westerns.
For me, Franco has always been like a second father, as well as my family was the second family of the children of Franco. When he was traveling for business, Daniel and Henry came to live at our house and when it arrived the summer I often went to the house of Franco in Capalbio. Since then dad died in 2005, Franco often helped me to resolve any question relating to the copyright in the work of Dad.
From the human, in short, Franco was a man of great weight, thanks to his wife, Luciana, who was able to help and do the work of 10 people alone. The great insight of Franco, in my opinion, was to begin trading of film music. At that time, we speak of the ’60s, no one had ever occurred that the music used for the soundtracks had been able to print on vinyl to make the disks. He invested in this company’s business, and was a resounding success!
As interpreter, he had some relations with all the great musicians: from daddy to Morricone, Trovajoli, Lavagnino, Cipriani, Pregadio, Ortolani, Rizzati, and younger men as Frizzi, Micalizzi, the brothers De Angelis and so on. In this way, he put on a stable of great quality, able to satisfy every kind of director. On his way to work, he was painstaking and guaranteed a high quality, partly because of each soundtrack was printing in discs, and then the material must necessarily be fantastic.
In the ’60s and ’70s published the music for more than a thousand movies … a huge job that was able to carry thanks to his wonderful family that helped him unstintingly. Another thing that he does not compromise was the food. Franco was a good «piemostese» (Piemoste is a country of North of Italy); he loved good food and was a true lover of food.
Even in his office from which never left during the week, he had installed a kitchen in which he devoted himself to sophisticated dishes. Never could settle for a gross food or even worse (sandwiches and sandwiches from the bar). When I went to the Beat and between a word and the other one it was lunch time, he invited me to stay with them for lunch and then it was a feast for the palate.
Another love of Franco were his favorite flowers that looked after in her home country with an incredible love. I believe that only those who love the nature so they can have that feeling that distinguishes the wise from the rest of humanity.
Dad said that the harmonica, if played bad, it was a tool to be cowboys. Franco instead could bring out the feeling of its harmonics, with a «vibrato» sound and warm that no one else was able to imitate. That’s why I used it in all kinds of soundtrack: from comedy to action films, from cartoons to the drama. One of the best songs (in my opinion) is included in the soundtrack of The New York Ripper and his name is Fay. There, the harmonica of Franco performed the sweet melody alternating with the flugelhorn Oscar Valdambrini and … a true poem!
Franco was very demanding in the work of publisher and its physical size expressed very well his being severe. But it was also a spiritual man who knew how to enjoy their work. I remember once, during the recording of the OST of Lone Wolf Mc Quade, it changed all parts of the orchestra while Dad had gone to get a coffee at the bar. When it attacked recording the orchestra Franco played a thing while Dad was supervising another. Immediately stopped and began to read all the music on legio to figure out where the error was, then turned to directing and saw Franco laughing like crazy … there was an exchange of «vaffa» which ended only at dinner finished the round of recording. Only from a friend dad could not accept such a joke and the two of them were constantly.
When Dad died in 2005 Franco felt as if he had lost a brother; he approached me and told me, «you know that the flowers do not ever buy them to put on a grave, take this money and make an offer for poors.»He handed me a figure and I stroked it gently. An amazing person! Now that he is gone I am consoled by the fact that I think is just back from his friend to make jokes and play good music …
The Best Memory
The best memory I have of Franco is his great love for what he did, the music! Not only was a professional musician but also a great responsibility. For this reason he did not like being surrounded by mediocre.
Only one other person in the world was able to talk about music with Dad and Franco with the same naturalness: Alessandro Alessandroni. The three of them together formed an orchestra alone and were able to play the music with such ease, to make it look like the easiest thing in the world …