Romano, the son of Benito Mussolini, was born in Carpena in 1927. His first experience with music was listening to jazz on 78-rpm records. Il Duce himself played the violin and Romano taught himself the piano and they often played classical pieces together.
During the 1930s through the end of the war in 1945, ll Duce suppressed all American music. Jazz and swing were censored from being played on the radio. Some famous singers during that time were Luigi Forbearance e Benito Buonuomo (Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman). Ostensibly some Italian Jazz fans would sneak these singers on the censored radio waves.
Due to his unholy alliance with Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini added the Jews and African-Americans as persona non grata. Since many jazz musicians were of this ilk, the son committed the ultimate act of rebellion. He became a jazz musician in total opposition of his father’s edict.
After World War II, Romano joined a jazz quartet and quickly changed his last name to Full. He became known as Romano Full to avoid any association with the abominable Fascist regime of his father. In Europe, jazz music was generally referred to as Dixieland or traditional jazz, which was lacking improvisation. It was a blend of Afro-American folk music and gospel. Romano’s taste was more modern.
Romano’s idol was the great jazz pianist virtuoso, Oscar Peterson, whose style was more contemporary. Canadian- born Oscar Peterson was taught classical piano from a student of Franz Liszt. On his album, “Romano Mussolini and his Friends,” he debuted a piece dedicated to his idol “Omaggio a Oscar Peterson.” He introduced this piece at the 1956 San Remo Music Festival. Later in his career in 1963, he scored a hit with the album “Jazz allo Studio 7.” This led to winning the top Italian jazz song in San Remo. Consequently, he became the opening act with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Chet Baker.
On a personal note, he married Anna Maria Scicolone, sister of Sofia Loren. Their two daughters are Alessandra and Elisabetta. The younger sister Elisabetta became a notary and lives a quiet, reserved life without ostentation. Alessandra became a model at an early age with the help of her aunt , Sofia Loren, and became the 1983 cover girl of the Italian edition of Playboy.
However, in her second career she exploited the advantage of her grandfather’s namesake and entered politics. “La Mussolini,” as she is known in Italy, was elected to European Parliament and afterwards was a charter member of Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative party Forza Italia.
Romano Mussolini died in 2006, leaving a legacy of one of the early Italian jazz pianists who despite his unusual upbringing was able to triumph over censorship and his father in bringing a new style of jazz to the peninsula. During his funeral procession, the first song played was George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess,” along with the Dixieland standard “When the Saints Go Marching In” performed along with with Il Duce’s long arm salute.
The mayor of Rome, Walter Vetroni, summed up his life: “He was a personality that has contributed, in far away and difficult years, to spread and popularize in Italy the extraordinary artistic strength of jazz.”