Robbie Valentino: The Man. The Myth. The Melodica.

Robbie Valentino: The Beginning

Robbie Valentino (born Antonio Giordiano) was born in the small town of Castelsardo, Italy in 1965. His parents abandoned him when he was 8 for unknown reasons. Robbie’s mother’s final words to him were, “Hai rovinato la mia vita ,” which translates to “You ruined my life.” The trauma sent, then Antonio, into a painful downward spiral. Fortunately, he was found in an alley, with torn and tattered clothes, by an Italian musician, Rossi Valentino.

Rossi took the young boy under his wing and gave him the name Robbie, after his recently dead dog. Rossi, being an affluent flutist, started teach Robbie the flute as a way to distract him from the loss of his family. It proved difficult and Robbie gave up repeatedly, stating, “I’ll probably just ruin your life!” Rossi, being a kind and gentle father figure, decided to let Robbie go at his own pace. On a mid-summer day, as Rossie watched in a distance, Robbie started perusing through Rossi’s collection of instruments. Rossi had a great collection of unique instruments: a dulcimer, a 12-string classical guitar, violin, and even aeolian wind harp. Nothing really caught Robbie’s attention, until he saw what he still considers to this day to be the most beautiful instrument known to man: the melodica. Robbie gravitated toward the melodica and his life was changed forever.

Every year, since the age of 12, Robbie was undefeated at the town’s annual melodica championship. At that age, Robbie started juxtaposing himself as one in the same as his hero, Alexander Mǐn Yǒng, the former Chinese-Indonesian melodica player of the 1966 International Melodica Competition. Robbie’s dream was to take down Mǐn Yǒng at the 1967 IMC. Robbie worked fervently on his skills to qualify for the IMC and his hard work paid off. He went on to defeat the 2-time Gold Medal Winning Melodica Champ and his life was forever changed. This victory sky-rocketed him into fame and this once small-town Italian prince, grew into an overnight international sensation.

Coming to America

With his adopted father, Rossi, Robbie left his life in Italy behind. Giving into the fame, he moved out to Los Angeles, USA and started a new life filled with public speaking, several book deals, television spots, commercials, and a Hohner brand melodica endorsements. Living off his deals and endorsements, he stopped focusing on the one thing that got him there… playing the melodica. As the 1969 IMC rolled around, Robbie was expected to enter, even though he was rusty. With a new found arrogant propensity for power, amplified by fame, he denied the fact that he was under prepared and headed to the 1969 IMC, just to be defeated in the first round by an 8-year old from Venezuala.

After his defeat, Robbie found himself falling into an agonizing downward spiral. Suddenly, the invitations to speak publicly stopped coming in. His books stopped selling. The final straw was losing his Hohner brand melodica endorsement. He attempted to hold on to his illusion of power by eating heavily and abusing anyone who challenged him. In this same time, his father, Rossi, suffered a severe stroke, which ultimately ended in death. Robbie, devastated and alone, ended up in a mental institution, where he spent the next 6 years.

The End of a Prince. The Rise of a King.

Enter the GalaxyAt 18, he was given permission to leave the state mental institution. While in the institution, he played the melodica with a passion and discipline that he’d never had before. After his release, he started playing on the streets in LA. He managed to make a decent living off the money from passerby’s. One night, this unique sound caught the attention of future band-mate, George Stevens. After a long conversation and a few nights of jamming together, the two started a band, Enter the Galaxy, in 1974 and went on to tour for 2 years, until Robbie abandoned the tour and band to pursue a solo career.

Flaming Crescendo's 1978
Flaming Crescendo’s 1978

Robbie went on to play melodica solos with several small bands, including the Flaming Crescendo’s, where he spent 1 tour. The lead singer and Robbie did not get well, so Robbie decided to move on to another band, The Sugar Stone Phillip’s Band. That did not fare well, as the leader of The Sugar Stone Phillip’s Band decided to abandon the whole thing for a news career. Robbie still maintained positive spirits, despite being moved from band to band. His motto was, “I just want to play.”

Finally he landed a gig with White Soul Lizzie. This was the role that pushed him back into the spotlight. The band literally backed him, being that they were all introverts holding onto the 70’s. He eventually became the first melodica player to ever be the leader of the band. This 5-piece band traveled the world for a couple of years, but eventually it all came to a shocking hault when the band members were involved in a bus accident. Robbie was the only survivor.

White Soul Lizzie
White Soul Lizzie, 1979

At this point, Robbie was used to loss. He was numb, but the music was still in him. Some say this was a turning point for him… for the worst. Others, including the legendary Eagles, saw this as an opportunity for experimental music. The Eagles brought him in for a few sessions and quickly became friends. Upon recording, the band realized that Robbie had taken a turn for the worse, as he started screwing up the solos frequently. The team decided to never release the recordings of their collaborations with Robbie, because of “artistic differences.

The Eagle's Hidden Sessions
The Eagle’s Hidden Sessions

Where Is He Now?

Despite the decades of a life of up-and-downs, Robbie Valentino is still at it. He’s recently signed with Upside Down Creative Media to begin releasing music videos and a CD compilation of cover songs from the past and present. His whereabouts are unknown, but it is said, that every full moon, you can hear the sounds of the melodica in the distance, no matter where you are.

Enjoy the newest Robbie Valentino video below!

Robbie Valentino: The Man. The Myth. The Melodica.

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