70's Italian Prog Rock bands: Goblin

Goblin is an Italian progressive rock band known for their soundtracks for Dario Argento films, including Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) in 1975 and Suspiria in 1977. They put out an instrumental progressive rock album Roller, before working with Argento again for Suspiria. Other film soundtracks and a concept album, Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark, followed and then the score for the European version of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978). Despite their success, many members of the band left. What was left of the band continued to work on further soundtracks, but there was a partial reunification for Argento's Tenebrae (1982). The last collaboration with Argento took place in 2000, with the film Non ho sonno (Sleepless).


Goblin is a symphonic band from Italy who adapted their music to the movie industry, mainly horror movies of the 70's. The outstanding keyboard work performed by Claudio Simonetti is their trademark. Most of their music is really heavy and moody, and generally pretty good. Goblin represent a rare case of a band that's much more popular among foreign collectors than in Italy, where their name has always been strictly associated to the Dario Argento horror films' soundtracks they've played on, rather than as a real prog band. The roots of Goblin lay in a band called Oliver, formed by keyboardist Claudio Simonetti and guitarist Massimo Morante. The two of them recruited bassist Fabio Pignatelli and drummer Carlo Bordini. The group moved to England, and briefly had an English singer, Clive "Artman" Haynes on vocals. Going back to Italy and with new singer Tony Tartarini (formerly known as Toni Gionta, of L'Uovo di Colombo), they had the chance of recording an album in April 1974, after they changed the band's name to Goblin. The original drummer Bordini was sacked, having refused to sign the contract, and replaced by Walter Martino (formerly with Simonetti in the band Il Ritratto di Dorian Gray) and Tony Tartarini departed. Helped by the past experience of Claudio Simonetti on Cinevox as soundtrack sessionman, the band had a recording deal with that company and was offered to compose the soundtrack to the director Dario Argento's debut horror film, Profondo rosso (Deep Red) as a replacement for composer Giorgio Gaslini, who had left the film after a conflict with the director. Goblin rewrote most of the score, including the famous main theme and recorded the official first album, Profondo Rosso O.S.T. (1975), while the previous LP of the previous line-up was released under the name of Cherry Five in 1976. The film was highly successful, as well as the dark, hypnotic title track that became an instant hit and the soundtrack album topped the Italian charts. Totally instrumental, mainly based on keyboards, Goblin's music was richly crafted in comparison to the rather anonymous soundtracks of the time. The album also included on the second side a couple of orchestral themes by composer Gaslini. The picture on the back cover shows the original five-piece line-up with Tartarini.

Dario Argento's Profondo rosso trailer

Profondo Rosso full cover

Goblin's Profondo rosso soundtrack

The second album was Roller (1976), featuring new members Agostino Marangolo (from Flea) on drums, as well as second keyboardist Maurizio Guarini. Not intended to be a soundtrack, this album was a good one, very similar to the previous one, developing the band's style.




In 1976, the band, under the name Il Reale Impero Britannico, also composed another soundtrack to a film called Perchè si uccidono, together with Fabio Frizzi. Cherry Five's Tony Tartarini sung on the only vocal track. It's a short album (around 31 minutes), also including some orchestrated themes by composer Willy Brezza. Perché si uccidono is by far the rarest item of the Goblin discography along with Cherry Five.


The group, however, was unhappy with the results and the label's promotional efforts, and nearly disbanded. Intervention by Argento smoothed things over, and he put Goblin to work creating a new soundtrack; this time, he shot the film only after hearing the music. The result, 1977's Suspiria, became Goblin's most acclaimed work, combining the band's heavy riffing and busy drum work with more eerie electronics than ever before, plus sinister, experimental vocal effects. The film and soundtrack were both hits once again, and the Goblin-Argento partnership was firmly established.

Dario Argento's Suspiria trailer

Goblin's Suspiria soundtrack

Another non-soundtrack album Il fantastico viaggio del 'bagarozzo' Mark in 1978, was the only Goblin album entirely sung by guitarist Massimo Morante, the others being instrumental only. It's a concept album about a flying bug, a prog album with some pop leanings. The band also played some live dates to promote the LP, since they didn't have much live activity.

Opera magnifica

...E suono rock

Of Goblin's subsequent projects, the most significant was their work on 1978's Zombi (Dawn of the Dead), the sequel to Night of the Living Dead, co-produced by George Romero and Dario Argento. One of their heavier, more rock-oriented works, the soundtrack appeared in two different versions: one as the complete Italian version used by Argento, and the other as the Romero American version, which cut down the band's contributions to include stock orchestral music. Regardless, the film and soundtrack were both worldwide successes.
L'Alba dei morti viventi (Dawn of the dead)

From now on Goblin composed a long series of soundtracks, with the sound gradually becoming more commercial and less inspired. The brother of drummer Agostino, Antonio Marangolo, on saxophone contributed to several albums of Goblin and Carlo Pennisi (of Flea and the last line-up of Libra along with keyboardist Guarini) who often played in place of guitarist Massimo Morante when he was absent, replaced Morante in 1979 when he left the group for a solo career. Several more scores followed before keyboardist Simonetti, the driving force behind the band's sound, also departed. He created the disco-oriented Easy Going and abandoned his main group in 1980 for a solo career. Bassist Pignatelli took over leadership of the group, but without its two most prominent members, work was suddenly hard to come by. Session keyboardist Maurizio Guarini returned to the fold, but by the time Goblin managed a new studio album, 1982's Volo, both guitarist Pennisi and drummer Marangolo had jumped ship as well. Dario Argento attempted to reconvene the original group for the soundtrack of 1982's Tenebre (Tenebrae), but Marangolo declined to take part. The largely electronic Tenebre was released under the name Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante and the three went their separate ways afterwards. Pignatelli, Guarini, drummer Martino and Marangolo's saxophonist brother Antonio continued Goblin in 1983, upon which point the group simply faded away. In 2000, the group reformed to score the new Dario Argento thriller entitled Non ho sonno (Sleepless). The soundtrack, released in early 2001, was a great success.

Non Ho Sonno / Killer On The Train

The year 2000 saw the release of the first part of a multiple CD compilation series, The fantastic journey of Goblin-The best of Goblin vol.I, that along with tracks from their Dario Argento's films soundtracks, includes a very nice and unique live CD taken from a 1979 concert. The latest work from Goblin is called Back to Goblin 2005, self produced by the band now including Maurizio Guarini, Massimo Morante, Fabio Pignatelli and Agostino Marangolo. This line-up broke up in 2009 after some concerts, giving birth to two new bands, New Goblin with Morante, Guarini, Simonetti along with bassist Bruno Previtali and drummer Titta Tani (both previously in Simonetti's group Daemonia), and Goblin World (later Goblin Rebirth) formed by Pignatelli and Marangolo with keyboardists Aidan Zammit and Danilo Cherni and guitarist Giacomo Anselmi.


Profondo Rosso O.S.T. (1975)
Roller (1976)
Perché Si Uccidono O.S.T. (as Il Reale Impero Britannico, 1976)
Suspiria (1977)
Il Fantastico Viaggio Del Bagarozzo Mark (1978)
Zombi-Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Amo non amo (1979)
Squadra Anti-Gangsters (1979)
Patrick (1979)
Contamination (1980)
Volo (1982)
Tenebre (as Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante, 1982)
Notturno (1983)
Phenomena (1984)
La Chiesa (1989)
Buio Omega (1979 recording, released in 1997)
La Via Della Droga (1977 recording, released in 1999)
Non Ho Sonno O.S.T. (2001)
BackToTheGoblin 2005 (2006)