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Claudio Coccoluto born Gaeta 1962 passed Cassino 2021

The international DJ producer, electronic artist, and Italian cultural icon passed after a year’s struggle with illness. The Italian parliament held a one minute silence to honour Coccoluto, and the promise of intent to recognise DJs as true artists.

Claudio Coccoluto was a protagonist of the Italian and international creative scene who got entire generations dancing to his tunes and avant-garde music.”

- Dario Franceschini, The Minister of Culture

Coccoluto represented high quality, unique, haute-couture dance music. His DJ sets were always authentic soundtracks based on modern global influences. This philosophy translated perfectly into his work as a music producer with an extensive catalogue of tracks and remixes.

His integrity led to Coccoluto forming the Club Festival Committee to protect the rights of nightlife workers during the pandemic. Coccoluto: “Whoever does clubbing is a cultural flywheel for youth movement. So far the approach of the institutions has been reductive: both the government and the Italian Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism still do not define a definitive role for this sector, despite the fact that it is a huge influence. The lack of interest and subsidies creates a dangerous condition, professionals should arrive alive to a hypothetical reopening date that no one yet knows, while they have to pay the rent, the bills. If not our spaces will become prey to illegality and the underworld. I do not like the abuse that is being made of the term “movida”, as if it defined an incorrect way of having fun. If this mentality prevails management will be the prerogative of some upstart or some ugly thug because not enough has been done to protect the professionals.”

 

 

Coccoluto’s dedication to music began at age nine buying the Rolling Stones - Goat’s Head Soup. He would listen to records while dissembling electronic equipment at his father’s shop in Gaeta. Coccoluto collected vinyl since he started to DJ on local pirate radio in 1985. He played vinyl for his entire career, amassing 70,000 records. He never played CDs or mp3s: “Until the technology can replicate the sound of a vinyl record, I will refuse to play the compromise.”


In 1986 Coccoluto, Lucio Battisti and Pino Daniele each bought one of the three Emulator studio instruments allocated to the Italian market, at the same time Frankie Knuckles also acquired the exact same Emulator in New York.


In 1988 inspired by the wave of electronic dance music from New York, Chicago and Detroit, Coccoluto built a recording studio in his father’s garage with production partner Savino Martinez: “Our friendship bound us for 37 years, I remember the evenings spent in our studio to create and produce music that overwhelmed us in long nights full of positive electricity. We were one we were confronted on ideas but always had the same point of view on how to develop our musical creations. I have in my eyes the image of me at the sampler with you spinning the record to find that groove, a sound that has always characterized us in a unique symbiosis, an alchemy that made us go on fantastic musical journeys ’’. The Anglo- Italian producer Dino Lenny joined the Coccoluto studio team in 1992 until 2004.

Coccoluto began to travel in 1988 with his first UK gigs at the DMC championships with Fabio Carniel from Discoinn in addition to being booked at the London Marquee and at Roy the Roach’s underground London club.

 

In 1989 Coccoluto formed the Angels of Love party promotion collective with some friends in Napoli. They worked together for five years bringing New York and London’s top DJs to Italy for their first gigs.

In 1995 Coccoluto together with Tina Lepre founded a theatrical club night Arte Dinamika in Naples which continued to host International DJs from around the world.

 

Claudio was a humble, kind and giving person. He was the first person to ever bring us to Naples at the club Cube with Angels of Love. He had a sharp ear, he was a top taste-maker that could spot new sounds that would become a new direction in music. We spent time together on several occasions, one wonderful memory was when I went to his hometown, he invited myself and Lil Louis to his studio and we had so much fun working together! He was a food connoisseur and would treat me to the best dinners in Italy. We played various gigs together and always had the best of times.”

- Louie Vega, Masters at Work
The second time I ever played in Italy was in the early ’90s at The Cube Club for Angels Of Love in Naples. I was a bit nervous because I had to play before Claudio Coccoluto and I had heard that he was an amazing very popular superstar DJ. He was there while I was playing and he couldn’t have done more to make me feel very relaxed and at home. That special evening forged a decade's long friendship for me with Claudio and the people of Napoli. I would like to imagine that he will join all of the other great DJ’s, promoters and musicians in preparation for one massive rave above the clouds and the stars. RIP my dear friend!

- Kenny Carpenter
Claudio was a very good technical DJ and a great producer. He represented Italy in the world of dance music with his unique sound. The dance community has lost one of its icons.”

- David Morales
Claudio had his own distinctive style with lots of percussion in the sounds that he produced and played. I greatly admired his mixing skills and the way he blended his music with powerful energy. Claudio transcended the generations and was greatly loved by the whole of Italy and across the world. Legends are eternal and Claudio is to music what Francesco Totti is to football. Claudio will be remembered as the top player of the Italian nightclub scene. My son is named for Claudio.”

- Danny Rampling
The music you played was epic. We will miss you, Claudio.”

- Roma football club

Coccoluto was the first Italian DJ to play at London’s Ministry of Sound in October 1992. He was the Italian DJ whom played most times at Ministry. He loved the club to his core and praised the detail of the sound sytem and that turntables were always available. Ministry of Sound was his UK home and his lifelong manager Karen Goldie Sauve of Prodmix founded the popular Rulin Italia night at Ministry.
Claudio and his group from Naples, Angels of Love, were the first foreign club to come and play at Ministry. Claudio played numerous times at the club, he was a highly technical skilled DJ, pioneering his own unique style. He was instrumental in the development of the early House scene in Italy. He had an excellent eye for detail, micromanaging the finer points of every event, from flyer design to speaker placement, and was a wizard at marketing and promotions. He was a rare species, a club runner, promoter and great DJ so owning his own club in Rome was always inevitable. His legacy can be seen through the artists he influenced and souls he touched.’"

- Justin Berkmann, founder of Ministry of Sound

 

 

Claudio had vision in abundance. He was ahead of the game on many levels. I always loved his sets they were so intelligent and true to himself. A true giant, friend and pioneer of the early Italian house scene.”


- Ricky Morrison, Mi-Soul Radio
Claudio was an incredible DJ and a lovely human being.”

- Smokin Jo
Claudio and I go back since the beginning, we were among the few Italian DJs to also play internationally. His battle to play vinyl, was his ideology. I recognize its poetry. We became closer in the last year during our video calls . Claudio loved to laugh, as I do too, it's the beauty of life”. He always said "the situation is stable, you must never stop fighting". He had an incalculable strength."

- DJ Ralf

Coccoluto was determined to open his own nightclub. In 1996 with Giancarlino Battafarano he opened Goa in Rome. An intimate 600 capacity venue with an impeccable Audio Factory sound-system that presents innovative, upfront House and Techno music with a strict no cameras policy. Coccoluto: “DJs are there to help people enjoy themselves. I can’t understand DJs who lock themselves away in a booth. Maybe they’re on their personal voyage, maybe it’s another way of perceiving the experience. I have to be with the crowd. It's not only nice for them to come close to me, it gives me energy. There’s an exchange of emotions and you can find out if the emotions are positive or negative. If they’re negative you can make them positive.”

Coccoluto’s reputation as the “Italian DJ” was increasing with BBC Radio One Essential mixes: September 1996 and October 1997. He was regularly DJing at Back to Basics, Hard Times and the Ministry of Sound. Coccoluto was put on the front cover of DJ Magazine in July 1997, and Mixmag released a critically acclaimed front cover mix CD Claudio’s Midsummer’s Night Dream 1998.

Coccoluto played the Subsonica Tour, the Lorenzo Giovannotti Tour, Slam Jam in Tokyo, The Venice Biannual, he was a judge at the San Remo Festival and played at several MTV Europe Awards in addition to a consistent prolific DJ schedule in Underground clubs across the globe. He toured Europe, Australia and Japan. He also played high profile shows for Prada, Moschino, Ferrari and Diesel’s founder Renzo Rosso: “Claudio Coccoluto and I are part of the same generation, we grew up together and our creative genres complemented one another. Claudio was a real person with his feet on the ground, who never let success go to his head. We opened shops together, had a lot of parties, and Claudio was our chosen soundtrack. He is an important man in my history and I shall always remember him with pleasure.”

Belo Horizonti

Coccoluto’s biggest release was “Belo Horizonte” by the Heartists originally released in 1996 on Atlantic Jaxx Records in the UK. In 1997, it was also the debut release on his independent Italian label The Dub Records. This track re-contextualised Airto Moreira’s Brasilian Samba and sold over 1 million copies when it was signed to Virgin Records.

 

“Musically I’m very curious. I like to listen to any kind of music and I’m very inspired by World music. “Belo Horizonte” was a challenge. Any danceable rhythm which exists in the world, however traditional, can be translated into House music. If I take the original samba and put it in a House music club then no one would dance to it. But if you reinterpret it today through existing technology, through the people and the culture, then that is House music.”

- Claudio Cocculuto

 

“Thank you Claudio for your contribution to music. Thank you for supporting and believing in our music. You were the first person to invite us to play abroad, in Napoli 1996, welcoming us with open arms and introducing us to the delights of Italian food. Thank you for “Belo Horizonte” which became a dance anthem and introduced the wider world to the music of Moreira. Thank you for being a delight to know. Rest in peace. Our thoughts are with your family.”

- Felix and Simon, Basement Jaxx

 

Claudio Coccoluto is an icon of DJ culture. A true gentleman, always  a thrill watching him in action"

- Gilles Peterson

Rulin

Coccoluto was resident DJ for Rulin Italia at Ministry of Sound from 1996 – 2003. Sharing the decks with Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry and CJ Mackintosh.

 

Every performance was epic, always innovative and always challenging. Claudio would always take us on a journey. His majesty in the booth with his piercing eyes was a marvel to see. He introduced me and our club to so many magical nights, sets of ten hours with people still cheering one more one more. Claudio was a humble man who let his music do the talking. House music and Balaeric hand in hand played the way it should be. There will never be another. A true DJ’s DJ. Claudio we salute you Maestro. RIP Fratello.”

- Gareth Cooke

By 2000 Coccoluto collaborated on several projects and together with the bass player Saturnino, Coccoluto launched a series of Live DJ set mini-tours and co-produced "Il mio DJ" track with Subsonica.

It was always a pleasure DJing with Claudio. I remember some amazing times I had when playing with Claudio. 2 spring to mind. 1 was the time I Dj’d at his night in Goa /Rome. I remember taking my good friend Nick Littlemore from Empire Of The Sun/PNAU with me. Claudio as always smashed it. His mixing and choice of tracks have always been on point hence him being the Italian Maestro.
The 2nd memory was when we played together at Ministry of Sound anniversary. It Was a great night with so many good friends there. Karen Goldie Sauve and my good buddy Simon Patterson dancing the night away in the booth. . Claudio smashed it again as usual. I remember him bringing his family down and that was when I met his son Gianmaria; Love you, man... Will always be in our hearts“

- Darren Emerson

From 2003 the C.O.C.C.O. radio show became the vital Friday night warm-up for every weekend. With an exclusive mix of new vinyl, promos and Coccoluto’s words of wisdom. In 2005 Coccoluto presented a Red Bull Music Academy lecture.

In 2008 Coccoluto set up a club night Ottowatt with his son Gianmaria, which inspired many young DJs, including Joseph Capriati.

At the age of eleven a friend gave me a cassette of “Disco” music and my life changed from there. It was a set by Claudio Coccoluto, and I fell in love with House music. Claudio has become like a father to me. He played my first release on Radio Deejay, he advised me and welcomed me as one of his family. Claudio is the Italian DJ par excellence who fought all his life with the power of music.”

- Joseph Capriati
During the pandemic lockdown Coccoluto was commissioned by Enzo Salera the Mayor of Cassino to stream a DJ setHe also performed a DJ set for the Total Volume virtual project where Claudio was streamed from huge, glamorous ‘ghost’ hotel in Rome. 
  
The latest live stream from his studio to celebrate Back to Basics 29th Anniversary is a highly rated set.
Claudio Coccoluto’s musical integrity was unsurpassable. He was an amazing human being, and his influence on House music was phenomenal. When he was firing on all cylinders he was untouchable behind the decks. Claudio was a true friend who stood for everything I believed in.”

- Dave Beer, Back to Basics
In my earlier days of house performing through my agent Karen Goldie Sauve, I was blessed to do many shows with our Claudio Cocoluto... he was the epitome of a Gentle giant. Always so kind. Though there was a small language barrier at that time, that wasn’t a hinderance from his kindness and actions towards me and I loved to hear him and Karen always laughing ... he had a kinda father figure about him ... in those early days I would love to hear his set of soulful house ... just one of the many styles of house he embodied... my favourite thing, I loved was saying his name CLAUDIO COCOLUTO... CLAUDIO COCOLUTO... I loved saying it ... it was beautiful to say ... may sound silly ... but for a Brooklyn girl it was so cool to pronounce and say the whole name of one so cool ... I pray the father receives him as his soul is at peace and I hope he will always be remembered for his kindness and thoughtfulness as other good parts of him. Claudio Cocoluto I will never forget you and your beautiful name ... thank you for open doors of opportunities as well to sing songs to many ... you will always be to me Beautiful People ... God keep us all “
- Barbara Tucker

The Mayor of Coccoluto’s hometown, Enzo Salera, accompanied Coccoluto’s body to the Church of the Artists in the Piazza del Popolo, Rome. The Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi said: “I am saddened for the loss of DJ Claudio Coccoluto. A great artist who pioneered and the curated 40 years of Dance music in Italy, Europe and the world. I feel deeply for his wife and children.”  

Coccoluto was laid to rest in Cassino at 4am in honour of all DJs and night-life workers. 

Coccoluto’s last musical collaboration with his son Gianmaria will be released soon together with an unreleased album and Progetto Infinito curated by Coccoluto’s beloved wife Paola Graziani and daughter Gaia Coccoluto whom are eternally grateful for the outpouring of love and tributes from the dance music community and fans around the world.

 

Jonathan Taylor

The final objective of a DJ who plays for a crowd is to create the kind of magic that can’t even be put into words. So when you pick a record, it’s not just you who has chosen it, it’s everyone together. When you reach that level it’s the most beautiful.”   

- Claudio Coccoluto

 

If you would like to leave a personal tribute to Claduio Coccoluto, please send it in an email to info@ministryofsound.com

 

About the author

Matthew Francey

Head of Content

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