He was one of the first Italian musicians to realize that something in the music world and costume was changing, and then to have introduced in Italy, influenced by the United States stars of rock and roll, a new type of music, wild and appealing especially to the young people of that time.
He began performing as a comedian and impersonator in Milan cabaret shows, then made his official debut as a singer at the Ice Palace in Milan during the First Festival of Rock and Roll, in the year 1957. In a short time he was the most idolized and criticized protagonist of the Italian music scenario. Though a born "rocker", he tried other genres, as ballads, soul music, tango, waltz, shimmy.
Very often also the author of the music of his songs, sometimes co-author of music and lyrics, he is considered one of the pillars of Italian pop music. His attitude as a "guru" and "clan leader", as well as his qualities as a performer and entertainer, made of Celentano a symbol and an icon to many Italians.
Since 1965 he devoted himself with the same success to the cinema, both as a director, actor and producer; among his movies "Serafino" (1968), directed by Pietro Germi, "Rugantino" (1973), "Il Bisbetico domato" (1980) with Ornella Muti, "Segni particolari: bellissimo"(1988), and as a director and performer in the intriguing "Yuppi Du" (1975), "L'altra metà del cielo"(1976), "Geppo il folle".