Luciano Pavarotti 1935 - 2007
"Some can sing opera, Luciano Pavarotti was an opera.
No one could inhabit those acrobatic melodies and words like him. He lived the songs, his opera was a great mash of joy and sadness; surreal and earthy at the same time; a great volcano of a man who sang fire but spilled over with a love of life in all its complexity, a great and generous friend.
Great, great fun, The Pavlova we used to call him. An emotional arm twister if he wanted you to do something for him he was impossible to turn down. A great flatterer.
When he wanted U2 to write him a song he rang our housekeeper, Theresa, continually so we talked about little else in our house.
When he wanted U2 to play his festival in Modena, he turned up in Dublin unannounced with a film crew, and door-stopped the band. His life and talent was large but his sense of service to the weak and vulnerable was larger.
We wrote Miss Sarajevo for him. He had worked on the humanitarian crisis that was the war in Bosnia. We travelled together on a UN air force flight to Mostar... all of us earnest in hard hats, just about strapped into this industrial aircraft with the big man handing out parmigiano from Reggio Emilia, "the best cheese in the world" he kept saying... deadpan... to make us laugh.
In Pesaro, in his summer house, he lived an almost bohemian life with a recording studio set up in an out house - but did all his vocals in his bedroom... there was a hammock hung between two marine pines for a siesta. He liked to eat, sleep and then warm up his vocals though I remember more eating than warming up. When we first recorded with him I left a stone heavier than I arrived.
Intellectually curious, couldn't stick to his own generation - loved new ideas, new people, new song forms.
A sexy man whose life lit up again when he fell in love with Nicoletta and as he watched Alice play in the yard. He loved all his daughters so much.
The sadness of losing his only boy his only silence.
I spoke to him last week... the voice that was louder than any rock band was a whisper. Still he communicated his love. Full of love.
That's what people don't understand about Luciano Pavarotti. Even when the voice was dimmed in power, his interpretive skills left him a giant among a few tall men."