Emanuel Micallef (1 February 1969 - 29 May 2016) from Birgu, known as Lito, was a rock singer and dj. His nickname was given by one of his class mates at the early stage of primary school.
His first experience in music was through his elder brothers Pawlu Micallef and Horace Micallef along with their friends from Birgu and the surrounding area.
At the age of 13 (1982), he first appeared on stage as a member of the cast of the Vittoriosa Rock Opera Group, directed and choreographed by his brother Horace Micallef. On February 14th 1984, Lito auditioned as a singer with Trash, a Cospicuan band influenced by Black Sabbath MKI. He worked with the band as a roadie instead and eventually took interest in his locality's band Purple Haze lead by guitarist Steve Borg. With Purple Haze, Lito was the official lyric writer which led him to write a Rock Mass at St Lawrence Church in Birgu, a tribute to his father known as Il-Mike, much loved by the soccer enthusiasts. The Bormla band Trash and the Birgu band Purple Haze joined for a short time as Dark Medallion of which Lito was their roadie.
Lito co-founded the band Avalanche as The Vittoriosa Rock Opera Group had obtained a section of fort St Angelo in Birgu for their activities where Purple Haze and Stratkast MKII had also their own studios. Eventually Lito left Avalanche and was replaced by Frankie Tanti. During Frankie Tanti's time, Avalanche played one gig at Cafe Riche in Birgu and another for one of Ħaż-Żabbar's festa band clubs.
Lito then joined Exorcist for a short while, without any gigs. In 1985, he joined Ivory Cross. They rehearsed at Żejtun, and had only live appearence at the RockPak concert (1986) at the Floriana Catholic Institute. He left Ivory Cross in 1986 to replace Ivan Grech (presently Winter Moods) with Lords Of Misrule. Lito sang at the yearly Maltasajf concert at Pembroke's Shooting Range twice. He was replaced by Daryl Ebejer, ex Entracht, later Purple Haze and Kartridge.
Meanwhile Lito teamed up with Ivan Filletti to form Filletti & Friends as a side project supporting headlining bands. Filletti & Friends was a resident band at the Rock-A-Buzz 1987/88 in Kennedy Grove and The Splash And Fun Park at Baħar Iċ-Ċagħaq.
1988 Lito joins for a brief period a band situated in Birżebbuġa called One Across. He made a singular appearance as this band's main vocalist at a new year's eve party in Paceville.
Writing and recording
During this period, he got involved in writing reviews of live gigs on Far Out and occasionally replacing and assisting Tony Miceli's musical page on Il-Mument and Mark Doneo's musical page on It-Torċa.
Lito made his debut in a recording studio when the Vittoriosa Rock Opera group worked on an original musical Iskra. Horace Micallef scripted the musical story of the Russian Revolution, with lyrics by Raymond Tabone and music by Mark Vella of Stratkast fame. This musical was staged at Dar il-Mediterran in Valletta and later at the Depiro Centre in Tas-Sliema. Due to logistics, Iskra's cast and crew members were reduced and Lito was promoted to the acting role of Batinov, miming to the voice of Charles Azzopardi at the Ċittadella Rabat Għawdex and in a cultural exchange program in one of Turin Italy's local councils.
He later co-founded The Moviment Mużika Rok which had a very short lifetime.
After some years as a singer without a band, in 1991, Lito joined Brainstorm replacing Mark Storm in the time when The Alley in Paceville opened its doors for live bands. Brainstorm with Lito on vocals subsequently recorded two tracks in the Watching The Music multi-band compilation. The recording took place at Temple Studios Imġarr in 1992. The compilation included 2 tracks of 5 bands commissioned by Radio 101 on the occasion of the station's first anniversary. The project was launched live and on radio at the Eden Palladium at the Bajja ta' San Ġorġ San Ġiljan.
The same trio that created Iskra formed the events company Synergix and worked on another original musical called Living Legends, this time a live performance. It was staged at Dar Il-Mediterran and Lito played the part of Hasan.
He left Brainstorm and after some try outs with various bands as a singer, he decided to change his musical career as a rock dj, playing at different venues through the years.
Lito made his debut as a rock dj at Sticky Fingers in Qawra.
When AD where granted a Valletta local broadcasting licence, Radju 99 was born. Lito aired rock/blues shows such as Rock On and The Blues Connection. Forsaken were the only band interviewed during the lifetime of Rock On.
In 1997 Lito co-founded Mediacoop which gave birth to Capital Radio 88.7FM airing its first Rock Show called Radio Lito in the first Saturday of July 1998. Some of the bands interviewed were Winter Moods, Scream Daisy and Joe Mizzi's band.
In 2000, a new radio schedule for Capital Radio included the rock show System Overload and the Sunday soft rock/power ballad program Slow An' Easy later Easy on Sunday. Some of the bands interviewed on System Overload included Forsaken, Winter Moods, Scream Daisy, Fire, Frenzy Mono, Corkskrew, Beangrowers, Different Strings and Nomad Son.
In 2002 Lito started updating the live upcoming gigs list on geocities. The list was also aired on Capital Radio 88.7FM. Later, Geocities, the host for Litorcks69's upcoming gigs, stopped operating and was replaced by Litorocks.com
On the 1 April 2009, Capital Radio stopped airing. On the 9 July, Lito joined Joe Genovese on Xalata Rock and on the 8 October replaced Joe Tanti and joined Noel Mifsud on Rock Moods, both shows transmitted on One Radio 92.7FM.
On Tuesday 6 April 2010, Lito started airing his pre-recorded Cottonera Rock Show programs at Kottoner 98FM transmitting from Bormla with repeats on Sundays and Saturdays. On the 4 January 2011, the Cottonera Rock Show was replaced by System Overload which was also aired on All Rock on the digital system DAB Plus later in the year. Probably this was the first and only Rock Show aired on two stations. It ended after 30 editions in August 2011. Excerpts of this program were aired on Kottoner 98FM for the remaining August slots and throughout September 2011.
In October 2011, the Cottonera Rock Show returned on air replacing System Overload on Kottoner 98FM. As a live program, in the same month, Lito joins the Fuzz Box team on Radio 101. He was stopped 4 years later by the station's administration after he uploaded some black humour comments on Facebook regarding the Paqpaqli għall-Istrina incident. Lito was harshly criticized by Facebook commentators, who said that his comments were uncalled for. He later apologized and deleted his comments.
Manuel Micallef, better known as DJ Lito, died at age 47 on Sunday 29 May 2016 when his car was involved in a head-on crash on the Cospicua seafront.