ITALIAN singer and Eurovision winner Salvatore 'Toto' Cutugno has passed away at the age of 80.
The talented musician, famed for his hit song L'Italiano, died at Milan's San Raffaelle hospital yesterday.
The Tuscany-born star, who gained millions of fans across Europe with his soulful singing, played drums, piano and guitar.
He was celebrated as a music icon in Italy after wowing the world with his patriotic lyrics and penning songs for even bigger stars such as Johnny Hallyday, Dalida and Joe Dassin.
Toto rose to fame after his decade-long stint on the stage at the Sanremo music festival, which inspired the Eurovision Song Contest.
He scooped second place a whopping six times at the Italian sing-off, before finally winning in 1980 with the song Solo Noi (Just Us).
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Despite being renowned as Sanremo's runner-up, Toto went on to triumph on the global stage thanks to his incredible songwriting skills and catchy pop tunes.
The artist's greatest success came just three years after his win, when he released his infamous song L'Italiano.
He sold millions of records across Europe and even Russia with the cliché-ridden but applauded pop song.
Toto's cheesy lyrics and repeated mention of Italian stereotypes left no corner of his country's culture untouched.
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He gave honourable mentions to spaghetti, coffee, nuns and a broken Fiat in the catchy tune.
L'Italiano hit the number-one spot in Italy, France, Switzerland and Portugal, but did not manage to chart in the UK.
Toto gained further international acclaim in 1990 after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with his track Insieme: 1992 (Together: 1992).
The song celebrated political integration across the continent while encouraging further unity prior to the establishment of the European Union.
The celebrated singer battled prostate cancer in 2007, which led to him having his right kidney removed after the disease spread.
Toto praised his pal and fellow singer Albano Carrisi for helping him discover the illness and supporting him through his health woes.
He managed to recover from the cancer and went on to continue to perform for his legion of adoring fans.
The 80-year-old even managed to return to the Sanremo music festival for one final time in 2010.
But Toto was then forced to take a step back from the limelight in his seventies due to further health issues.
Despite being credited with encouraging the cohesion of European nations, the hitmaker caused a stir in 2019 due to his alleged friendship with Vladimir Putin.
Ukrainian MPs wanted to ban Toto from performing in Kyiv due to his alleged pro-Russian sympathies, which he denied.
"I am a friend of the Russians, not Putin’s," the singer said. "But let’s leave Putin where he is. I wish him all the worst in the world."
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Toto is survived by his wife Carla Cutugno, who he wed in 1971, as well as his son Nico, 33, from an extramarital relationship.
Italian pop singer Eros Ramazzotti paid tribute to the star, saying: "Ciao Toto, great Maestro. We will miss you."
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