Vannelli, Gino. Singer, composer, b Montreal 16 Jun 1952. His father, (Joseph) Russ Vannelli, sang with the Montreal dance bands of trumpeters Bix Belair and Maynard Ferguson. The younger Vannelli played drums as a youth, studying privately, and formed a rhythm and blues band with his brother Joe (b Montreal 28 Dec 1950), a keyboard player. Though Vannelli recorded as early as 1970 (as Vann Elli for RCA), it was not until 1974 that he had his first US and Canadian hit - 'People Gotta Move,' for A & M. This was followed by 'Powerful People' (1975) and 'Love of My Life' (1976), both his own songs.
His recording of 'I Just Wanna Stop' (1978), written by his brother Ross (b Montreal 6 Mar 1956), has been his greatest hit and brought Vannelli a (US) Grammy nomination. He also received Juno Awards in this period as most promising male vocalist of the year (1975) and male vocalist of the year(1976, 1979). His LPs 1973-8 for A & M were also popular: Crazy Life (SP-4395), Powerful People (SP-3630), Storm at Sun Up (SP-4533), The Gist of the Gemini (SP-4596), A Pauper in Paradise (SP-4664, which includes Vannelli's four-part 'symphony' of the same name, recorded in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), and Brother to Brother (SP-4722). Vannelli shared a Juno Award in 1979 with Joe and Ross for the production of his most successful LP, Brother to Brother, which sold more than 100,000 copies in Canada and 1 million in the USA.
Vannelli began touring in Canada and the USA in 1975, initially with an unusual band comprising three synthesizists (Joe among them) and percussion. In 1978, however, he established his home in Los Angeles and did not tour again until 1990. In 1991 he appeared in Canada, the USA, Europe and Japan. He recorded on occasion during this touring hiatus, and had hits in Canada with 'Living Inside Myself' (1981, from Nightwalker, Arista AL-9539), 'Black Cars' and 'Hurts to Be in Love' (1985, from Black Cars, Poly PDS-1-6415), 'Wild Horses' (1987, from Big Dreamers Never Sleep, Poly 831-6001), and 'The Time of Day' (1991, from Inconsolable Man, Poly 843-638, CD and cass). Domestic sales of Black Cars also exceeded 100,000; those of several of his other albums, 50,000.
His early music was ambitious, intense, and flamboyant, but to the extent that his physical appearance and onstage exertions in performance have always been central to his success - he was described as 'Canada's first export sex symbol since Robert Goulet' (Steven Davey, Toronto Star, 25 Nov 1977) - his credibility as a musician has inevitably suffered. His later efforts have been scaled-down, if not quite introspective, and reveal something of Vannelli's avowed, new-found spiritualism.