Producer/manager Luigi Caiola faced one major obstacle when he conceived the all-star tribute album "We All Love Ennio Morricone" -- Morricone himself.

Producer/manager Luigi Caiola faced one major obstacle when he conceived the all-star tribute album "We All Love Ennio Morricone" -- Morricone himself.

The legendary composer -- best-known for his film scores for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "The Untouchables," "Cinema Paradiso" and hundreds of others -- tells Billboard.com that he tried to talk Caiola out of the project when he first proposed it five years ago.

"I tried to persuade him not to do that because I knew it was really (difficult) to put so many artists together in one CD," the 78-year-old Morricone said through a translator. "Especially for contract reasons, for record labels, etc., these kinds of things, it was complicated. But (Caiola) believed in it so much that after five years, this CD is being released. It took five years for that, but I'm happy."

"We All Love...," due Feb. 20, features performances of Morricone's songs by Celine Dione ("I Knew I Loved You"), Bruce Springsteen ("Once Upon a Time in the West"), Metallica ("The Ecstasy of Gold"), Quincy Jones with Herbie Hancock ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"), Roger Waters ("Lost Boys Calling") and others. Morricone conducted three pieces himself.

"When I compose a piece, I just think that my composition can only go with my performance," he explains. "I really had no idea of all the other interpretations" that could be done. Nevertheless, Morricone says that when he composes, "the idea is that my music is flexible enough to be adapted to different styles and music and different artists."

"We All Love..." is part of a month-long celebration for Morricone. He's conducting his first-ever U.S. concerts this weekend, starting with a show tomorrow (Feb. 2) at the United Nations will feature "Voci dal Sislenzio (Voices From the Silence)," which he wrote in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. On Saturday he'll lead the Rome Sinfonietta Orchestra and the Canticum Novum Singers of New York through a repertoire of his film music. None of the artists from "We All Love..." or other guests, including a rumored Morrissey, are expected there.

On Feb. 25, Morricone will receive an Honorary Academy Award at the 70th Academy Awards ceremony for his "magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music." Morricone has been nominated for five Academy Awards during his career.

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