It was 1958 when Domenico Modugno, who came from the Puglia region of Italy where I was born and raised, co-authored “Nel Blu dipinto di Blu,” known throughout the world as the song “Volare.” It was released as a single on February 1, 1958, and upon winning the eighth Sanremo Music Festival, it was chosen as the Italian entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1958, where it won third place. Combined sales of all the versions of the song exceeded 22 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular Eurovision songs of all time and the most successful Sanremo Music Festival song ever. It spent five non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in August and September of 1958 and was Billboard’s number-one single for the year. Modugno’s recording subsequently became the first Grammy winner for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the first annual Grammy Awards in 1958.
The song was later translated into multiple languages and was recorded by a wide range of performers, including Dean Martin, Sergio Franchi, Louis Armstrong, and Luciano Pavarotti, to mention just a few. The worldwide success of this song earned Modugno the nickname “Mr. Volare,” and today, according to the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, the song’s popularity endures, being the most played Italian song in the whole world.