Moon Ray / Raggio di Luna – Comanchero
Who will join the Comanchero where eagles fly
Where horses ride, where horses ride
Will the road take Comanchero to his teepee
Or to the sea, or to the sea
#Comanchero #Moonray #RaggioDiLuna
It was an old funny habit, in the 80s, when in a conversation somebody mentioned Indians, we always asked “do you mean an Indian from India or an Indian from the Far West?” and differently from what would happen today, in the vast majority of cases we were talking about Indians from the Far West.
And in fact it was much more common to list Indian tribes rather than the states that make up India, which was then an absolutely remote and difficult territory to reach, and even more difficult to traverse. A guy who would leave heading to India, usually for a mystical journey, would probably return at least after six months.
In those years, therefore, the concept of Indians was not so much linked to Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and so on, as it was to the Sioux, the Navajos, the Mohicans, the Cheyennes and so on, without naturally forgetting the Comanches, who take us directly to a song released in January 1984 and which has remained one of the most famous and loved of the whole italo-disco genre.
We are of course talking about Comanchero, the huge success of Moon Ray (in Italy, she used the Italian version of her name, Raggio di Luna). But here, we need to start asking questions.
Who was the Comanchero? This term indicated traders or sometimes smugglers who, in the zone of New Mexico, southern part of today’s United States, traded within the areas inhabited by the Comanches. They brought flour, tobacco, tools, clothes, and the Comanches gave in exchange leather, animals, and sometimes even slaves, since we were about two centuries ago. And Moon Ray tries to explore the life, habits and thoughts of a Comanchero with her beautiful song. But here we must ask ourselves the second question: who is Moon Ray?
Moon Ray is actually a French singer and dancer born in a family with fourteen children. Her youngest brother is also a singer. It seems that she was born in Italy, and there are different versions of her date of birth. A first version says that she was born in 1961, so at the time of the Comanchero video she would have been less than twenty-three years old. Honestly, I would say that although she was very beautiful, she looked a little bit older than twenty-three, so I would agree with the version saying that she was born in 1954, so she was probably about thirty years old at the time of Comanchero.
Moon Ray’s real name is Mandy Ligios, and at a certain point in her career as a dancer and singer in musicals, she traveled through Italy where she met the authors of this song, and I would say much more than simple authors, so here we have to ask ourselves a third question: who hides behind the Comanchero song?
Comanchero is a production by the award-winning company Aldo Martinelli – Simona Zanini, the mind and the voice of italo-disco. Aldo, as we know, was absolutely brilliant and innovative in creating sounds between pop and disco, and Simona, born in Kentucky and perfectly bilingual, was the right person to write lyrics in English… and also to sing them, since she had one of the most beautiful voices of the 80s.
Aldo Martinelli and Simona Zanini were such prolific songwriters that they didn’t have time to enjoy all the successes they wrote, and so they created a series of different artistic projects with which they launched their songs often simultaneously or in direct competition. In order to hide their presence behind the different projects, they used artists who pretended to sing, but in fact they were just acting for appearances.
And so it was with Comanchero! In fact Mandy Ligios\Moon Ray appears and dances in the video and in all the TV shows where she appeared, always dressed as an Indian girl, a squaw, as she says in the song, but the voice we hear belonged to Simona Zanini. To be clear, it’s the same voice that we will hear in 1985 in Cinderella, the only great success released under the name Martinelli. But also the same voice we heard for example in Under the Ice by Topo and Roby (another Martinelli project), and even the one we will hear in 1986 in Lancelot by Valerie Dore: yes, even Valerie Dore only lent her image, at least in the first part of her career.
However, it must be said that Mandy Ligios was not at all a bad singer. After the success of Comanchero she sort of disappeared, but after four years she returned and was finally able to sing with her real voice. To make people understand and remember who she was, she changed her stage name: no longer Moon Ray (probably a name with rights owned by Martinelli) but she decided to change directly to Comancero (without the h though, who knows if it was again due to rights issues on the name). She realized a couple of songs that honestly didn’t measure up to Comanchero‘s continental success.
Yes, because with this song Moon Ray reached first place in France, and entered the top ten charts in many European countries, ofter disputing for top places with Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon, or with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson with Say, Say, Say, or with Bandolero and Paris Latino.
In short, even if the voice we heard was not the original one, certainly the appeal of Mandy\Moon Ray, the music by Aldo Martinelli and the lyrics and the wonderful voice of Simona Zanini had truly produced an unforgettable song… and yes, she was an Indian from the Far West!
Moon Ray on Wikipedia