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Marissa Cetin
21 May 2024, 14:55

Franchino, pioneering Italian DJ and vocalist, dies aged 71

The Italian progressive house innovator fell ill during a festival gig at the end of April and spent "weeks" in a Milan hospital

Franchino, pioneering Italian DJ and vocalist, dies aged 71
Credit: Facebook

Pioneering Italian DJ, vocalist and producer Franchino has died at age 71.

The Sicilian-born, Tuscan-raised artist's management shared the news on Instagram this past Sunday, 19th May, that Francesco Principato had passed away earlier that day following "weeks" in the hospital. "With immense sadness and deep sorrow, the family and close friends announce the passing of the beloved Franchino, who passed away today after several weeks in the hospital", a translation of the original Italian Instagram post reads (via NME). "You were a special person for all those people who were lucky enough to know you, and you brightened our lives with your smile, your strength and your courage."

The statement signed off with, "Have a safe trip Franco, you will always remain in our hearts. Live to live... ", and said the funeral would be "strictly private". 

The cause of death was not disclosed, though Principato was known to be battling carcinoma since the early 2000s, according to Il Tirreno. During the course of a late April Snowland festival gig with Ricky Le Roy, he became unwell at the Livigno nightclub and was admitted to a hospital in Milan, where he later died, Il Tirreno reports. Principato is survived by his partner and three daughters. 

Francesco Principato's working life began with a dayjob a hairdresser and salon owner while DJing at night at venues like Capo Nord and Seven Eleven in the 1970s. His career as a vocalist and the Franchino name took off in Brazil in the '80s when he played with local jazz and blues bands. He took those stylings to Ibiza later in the decade, collaborating with the likes of Club 64 resident DJ Miki, Ricky Le Roy, Roby J and others to fuse disco and progressive house. 

In the '90s, Principato honed his use of vocal sampling and effects during DJ sets with DJ Miki, Francesco Farfa and Mario Più, changing the way vocalists collaborated during parties (previously by mic-only) in the Italian club scene, and became known as "the storyteller" for his vocal amblings. Throughout the '90s he held residencies at Insomnia, Dylan and Aida and also worked under the names Liquid Sky, Mr. Frank and DJ FG. 

Principato's first official appearance on a release was on Andrea Giuditta's 1993 single 'Sweet Revenge' with 'Escandalo Total (Franchino Is The Voice)'. He released on labels like Holy Moly Music, BXR, Underground, UMM, Musica & Magia and more. His most recent release was the 'La Macchina Del Tempo' LP for The Saifam Group. 

Read Franchino's management's statement in full, and listen to 'Escandalo Total (Franchino Is The Voice)' below, followed by tributes to the Italian house legend.