Malibu Seen: Musically Inclined, Worldwide

Gino Vannelli

Question: Who has sold 10 million records, is invited to sing the national anthem at LA’s Staples Center and has even performed before a Pope?

Answer: The one and only Gino Vannelli.

Anyone who has looked into the fascinating history of the Canadian-born singer will “just wanna stop” and check out his Nov. 8 concert at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Gino’s roots go back to Montreal where he grew up in a musically inclined family. His father was, in fact, an old school cabaret singer and his mother had a “keen ear” for music.

Before you could say Louie Armstrong, Gino was hooked on jazz. He drew his early inspiration from drummers like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Ed Thigpen.

“My dad was a Big Band man,” he says with pride. “I started playing drums when I was nine years old.” What’s more, Gino will never forget the people who helped shape his career. “I saw so many jazz legends in Montreal and heard the music of artists like Ella Fitzgerald who influenced my life at a really young age.”

After dabbling with drums, guitar and piano lessons, an interest in classical music, Italian opera and 20th century Russian composers followed. With this well-rounded background, Gino was on his way to putting his own words to music.

“When I was 16, I got into composing,” he says. “I was very impressed with Jimmy Webb, but was a classical buff too.”

Putting all his musical interests together was a challenge. “I saw it as a great mountain to climb,” he adds. “To compose and perform is no easy task but I set my mind to it.”

Persistence paid off. While Gino was signed in Canada he longed to break into the U.S. market. That journey led him to Los Angeles.

“No one would sign me so I parked myself in front of A&M Records in Hollywood,” he explains. The next thing that happened was a stroke of luck and twist of fate when he spotted record chief and Malibu resident Herb Alpert. “I chased after him,” he recalls. “He was a little taken aback but about an hour later, I was auditioning for him.”

The rest is history and Gino was on his way. In 1974, his “People Gotta Move” made it on to the Billboard Top 100. He toured with the legendary Stevie Wonder and even appeared on the hit music show “Soul Train.”

Soon after, he released the Grammy-nominated hit “I Just Wanna Stop,” and he hasn’t stopped since with a tour schedule that takes him around the world. “I still look at music as a continuous mountain to climb,” he says. “I may not be able to reach it, but it’s in my grasp.”