Ivan was born in Bergamo on the 18th of March 1953.
Until he was 16, he has lived in Pianico, his little native
country near the lake of Iseo.
At the age of 12 he takes part in the selections for Zecchino
d’Oro, at 15 in the Strangers Festival of Ariccia.
While he is attending the Artistic High School, he learns to
play guitar, he studies music and starts playing in some local
band of blues, all fool for Zappa and John Mayall.
In 1972, after the diploma, he leaves for a magic and exciting
London, where he knows Mark Edwards, his first great friend, who
was the producer of Jethro Tull, Curvet Air, and today of U2,
Brian Eno and David Bowie.
Ivan is introduced in the legendary parties of the swinging
London ’70. Here he knows Cat Stevens, Marc Bolan, the
photographer David Bailey and the famous painter Francis Bacon.
He comes back to Italy for the military duty, but he is
immediately refused because of his “strangeness”..
He starts to hold the first concerts, in meetings and in
alternative pop festivals which belonged to the underground area
where Ivan moved his first steps. Right there he meets Nanni
Ricordi, father and inventor of all the Italian singer-writers,
who propose him to take part in ULTIMA SPIAGGIA, the only
Italian firm of vanguard, with CRAMPS.
In 1975 he records his first LP, “UOAEI”, like the vocals of the
alphabet, in which Ivan uses his voice in an experimental way,
quite like an instrument, and a completely invented language.
1970 he records “PRIMO,SECONDO,FRUTTA ( IVAN compreso )”; it’s
the first time we can hear citations in texts ( la donzelletta
vien dalla campagna, Maria Batman, Agitare prima dell’uso ecc.
), a great irony, the first Italian crazy ( but maybe without
Ivan’s will..! ), kaleidoscopic tenses, meanings like Chinese
boxes or matrioskas...This personality is scandalous and
indecipherable for an Italy used to...It doesn’t matter...!
Music is extremely innovative, also thanks to his meeting with
Roberto Colombo, who make his debut in the art of arrangements.
But the most innovative thing in this second album is the
advance of about 20 years on multimediality, so much abused
Ivan in fact, invents the T.U.V.O.G art, the total art of the 5
senses, that means touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste. It’s
a real DADA provocation, so much dear to Cattaneo.
T.U.V.O.G is a book combined with its LP ( Primo, secondo,
frutta Ivan compreso ); a book full of images, poems and songs,
artistic posters and suggestions for smells, perfumes, tastes,
sensations, which are to be combined with every specific song.
All the art is combined, in addition to the album and the book,
with a great exhibition in Milan, and with an innovative and
irreverent theatrical show.
During the exhibition, every picture gives SIGHT to a precise
Ivan devotes more and more himself to happenings and
performances: much theatre, much art and little songs.
all we already know it...Cattaneo has always felt close in the
role of simple singer or singer-writer.
He has always preferred to define himself as a MANIPULATOR OF
CREATIVE ENERGIES, which wander from singing to mime, painting,
theatre, or to the invention and the launch of new personalities.
The success of some of the first Italian punk groups is due to
him. And also the success of Anna Oxa: who doesn’t remember her
in San Remo, in a Callas-punk version, with a pipe and a
And then many others who had contacts with him ( Patrizia di
Malta, Gruppo Italiano, Diana Est, Down Mitchell of 49N group
and also the revival of a new and beautiful Patti Pravo).
In 1977 he has his first debut on TV with Roberto Benigni in the
transmission TELEVACCA, then censured in ONDA LIBERA.
In 1979 he records the album SUPERIVAN, with P.F.M. and the
arrangements of Roberto Colombo.
It’s an album in which the experimental vanguard of Cattaneo is
linked with a more communicative kind of song; texts are still
ironical and biting, but his voice is more traditional than
before, and vocalisms are used just in the most important points.
See for example MALE BELLO, also recorded by Patti Pravo.
Rock concerts starts in this period, Ivan is
acclaimed as the new star of Italian rock; on his stages there
are technologies and settings, an enormous wall composed by 50
television sets which exhale a blue light called “cathode snow”.
Atmospheres are glacial and unreal, like his first band NEHOMO,
which reminds the American DEVO.
Ivan is a real performer; as well as his voice, he uses mime,
dance, irony, grimace and drama through the movements of his
face and his body.
In 1980 he changes his record company; the “alternative people”
period is concluded.
Ivan records for CDG the album “URLO ( di una spia in agguato
avant la guerre troisième )”. POLISEX is the main song and
become a kind of hymn in Milan ’80, it’s transmitted by every
radio and it’s very appreciated also by the critics.
1981 Ivan has a great idea: to recover old dead songs of the
mythical ’60...a real work of modern archaeology.
All the project is supported by a transmission which is
considered one of the most innovative of that period: MISTER
And so it rises the album “2060 ITALIAN GRAFFIATI”. It’s a
clamorous success ( 475.000 sold copies ) which Ivan himself
defines “Unexpected”, like the most beautiful or the most awful
In 1982 Ivan returns back to his role of singer-writer and
multimedial manipulator with the album “IVAN IL TERRIBILE”, but
the effect is naturally less popular than that of the previous
In 1983 Ivan, with Caterina Caselli and Red Ronnie, founds in
Rimini the famous discoteque Bandiera Gialla.
And Bandiera Gialla is also the title of his new revival album,
arranged by the master of electronic: Roberto Cacciapaglia.
“Bang Bang”, “Ho in mente te”, “La bambolina che fa non no”, “Ho
difeso il mio amore” and many other songs confer him a success
which seems to overcome that of Italian Graffiati.
It starts a period of recalling and balance; Ivan
doesn’t deny this kind of success, but he feels too exploited
and reduced to a role of simple interpreter, that is too close
for him. Ivan feels to have left too much behind his starting
The relationship with his record company becomes more and more
Only two albums, “QUANDO TRAMONTA IL SOL..” e “DANCING NUMBER”
belong to these years.
Then he publishes a last revival album, “VIETATO AI MINORI”,
that will guarantee him the redeeming and the resolution from
the record agreement.
VIETATO AI MINORI is maybe a useless album from the point of
view of the idea and the innovation, but it’s new in the
arrangements of the discovered Roberto Colombo.
Ivan definitively stops with disks and record
companies; he feels extremely hurt and disappointed by the
superficial world of television, and generally by the show biz.
The following years are dedicated to the study of electronic
music, to the painting, and, above all, to the interior research.
In 1989 Ivan completes a colossal pictorial operation: 100
GIOCONDE HAIKU, 100 paintings with male/female faces, combined
with titles which form a real Haiku poem.
A great exhibition of his paintings makes a tour of Italy, it’s
organized in many cities of our peninsula, in Avignone in France
and in many discos where Ivan shows paintings, installations,
slides and musical performances.
1992 Ivan records “IL CUORE E’ NUDO E I PESCI CANTANO”, an album
which anticipate all the themes typical of New Age. It’s an
album dedicated to the relationship between Ivan and the Indian
Also his music is in advance of many years, thanks to its Drum &
Since 1994 Ivan has been working to a new project which will
probably come out in 2000 and will evolve in a work in progress
that will last for 10 years.
The global project is called “ZOOcietà DUE.OOO” and will
comprehend different books of mixed images and slogan-poems, a
theatrical play, some exhibitions and installations in art
galleries and...Why not? Also some CD to describe sound
manipulations. It all must remain mysterious... “It’s a
surprise-factor!” says Ivan, but he doesn’t add anything...tomorrow
is another day...and so...SURPRISE!
second half of the 90’ years he alternates his live activity of
musician and singer with that of painter and multimedial artist.
In the spring of 1999 Ivan is contacted by Lexy Production, for
the presence in a vanguard-movie as leading actor.
The movie, an italic-polish co-production , is a cult-movie
dedicated to the singers who have lived an important season
during the 80’ years. The title is “KK-Kairos and Kronos-The
time of emotions”.
Dario Maria Gulli, ex cartoon writer and current author of TV
programs, is the writer and the director of the movie.
Presented to the Brescia Music Art in 2000, this movie, a
cartoon similar to a strange comedy, is very appreciated in USA
and in the countries of the Est. Cattaneo is the interpreter of
an unreliable and avid producer of cartoons for children, while
a great contribution to the music is given by YO-YO mundi, Tre
Allegri Ragazzi Morti and Johnson Righeira. The last one is one
of the protagonists of the movie with Dario Maria Gulli and
Alessandra di Sanzo.
In the month of June 1999 he participates with success to the
beautiful exhibition “Musica senza suono”, dedicated to the
musicians-painters, in the Revoltella museum of Trieste.
The national preview of the project “Zoocietà Due.000” is in
February 2001 at the Verdi Theatre of Milan, for the third
edition of the Theatrical show “Chansonnier!dalla canzone al
teatro” cured by Giangilberto Monti.
In December he is the protagonist of the show “Musiche dai
cieli-Voci e musiche delle religioni del mondo”, a series of
concerts promoted by the Province and the diocese of Milan, made
in the Churches of this city.
Ivan’s show is called “Kyrie Elei Songs-Racconti elettronici per
una Medicazione dell’anima”, a recital-laboratory with the
presentation of 15 story songs with moving videos on a
From the enormous 100 Gioconde Haiku to digital paint, for Ivan
the passage is unavoidable. The new exhibition inaugurated in
the Artists Gallery of Brescia in 2002, is called ”SE
DICO....SEDUCO?” and it’s a multimedial performance where images
elaborated with computer and moved on canvas melt themselves
with addicted artistic material. Also these canvas are followed
by electronic tales singed by Ivan and illustrated by its
This mixture joins together the most classical past with the
most digital future.
After cinema, theatre, music and cabaret in 2002 he has the
change to participate in a musical, an artistic event which in
Italy is having a great success. Title is “Joseph e la
strabiliante tunica dei sogni in technicolor”,
The Italian representation of the English version created by
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, authors of other musicals like
“Jesus Christ super star” and “Evita”. The director is Claudio
Insegno and Ivan has an important cameo-role interpreting a
Pharaoh who suddenly turns into Elvis Presley on a well-created
This musical is a real success in many Italian theatres.
In this period he entertains the public with a very nice survey
during the afternoon on Radio Kiss Kiss Network, ”Il gossippista
del secolo” with irony and humour he tells about the manias of
the vips during the 80’ years.
In the spring 2003, for the re-launch of his great friend Juni
Russo, he create for her the videos of her 2 most important
songs: “Morirò d’amore” e “Una rosa è una rosa”.
In 2004 Cattaneo receives the propose of Rai to participate in a
TV reality where ten singers accept to live together
In a beauty farm without contact with the external world,
preparing themselves in music and look for a return to the world
The reality show is called Music Farm, and, although Ivan
participates at the half of the program, he immediately conquers
the public and his companions shifting the starting idea of the
authors to pacific cohabitation made of sincere dialogues and
nice goliardic events.
The share of the program is high and Ivan finds again love and
esteem from public and singers.
The tour during the summer is a great success and Ivan announces
his next album in 2005, accompanied by a DVD with all his
multimedial production since his beginning; that’s a sort of
video-book in which all his artistic languages can live together,
music, songs, poetry, recitation, images.
Un particolare ringraziamento per la traduzione in lingua
inglese a Dania