Involved with music since early childhood, at age five he won a radio contest. In 1968, he won the IV Festival de Música Popular do Ceará with "Nada Sou" (with Marcus Francisco). Together with Belchior, Rodger Rogério, Ednardo, and Ricardo Bezerra, he formed the gang known as Pessoal do Ceará. In the next year, he presented "Luzia do Algodão" (again with Francisco) in the Festival de Música Popular da Rádio Assunção Cearense. The song was his first to be recorded through label Orgacine. Until 1970, he stayed in Fortaleza, CE, where he shared a weekly radio show with Pessoal do Ceará. In 1971, Fagner moved to Brasília and enrolled at the architecture college at the Brasília University, abandoning the course at the end of the first year. However, the university promoted the Festival do Centro de Estudos Universitários de Brasília, for which Fagner inscribed three songs: "Manera, fru-fru, Manera" (with Ricardo Bezerra, which won sixth place), "Cavalo Ferro" (Best Interpreter and Best Arrangement and the song was re-recorded by Elis Regina), and "Mucuripe" (allegedly with Belchior, winning the competition, although the song is another plagiarism and was in fact written 70 years before by Henrique Voegeler).
After moving to Rio, he formed a duo with Cirino and recorded a single for RGE. In the next year, Sérgio Ricardo instituted the Disco de Bolso series in the critic humor tabloid O Pasquim, and Fagner recorded "Mucuripe" on the second album released in that series. Elis Regina recorded the song in the same year, with huge national success, which had a decisive impact over Fagner's career. He then recorded another single for Philips, which had "Quatro Graus" (with Dedé), a song which was also presented at the VII FIC. The next year, "Cavalo Ferro" was recorded by the Pessoal do Ceará (Ednardo, Rodger Rogério, Teti, and Cirino) on the album Meu Corpo, Minha Embalagem, Tudo Gasto na Viagem. Fagner recorded the first LP, Manera, fru-fru, Manera (the title was an irony directed against Caetano Veloso, yielding a mutual enmity which endures until today), which had Naná Vasconcelos, Ivan Lins (at the piano), Bruce Henry, and Nara Leão as guest artists. The album brought one of Fagner's biggest hits, "Canteiros," which consisted of his music for a poem by Cecília Meirelles, who was not credited on that album. It generated intense polemics and after a long court battle, the album was put out of circulation by judicial decision.
Fagner wrote the soundtrack (together with Chico Buarque) for Cacá Diegues' film Joana, a Francesa. In Paris, France, he performed in a collective Brazilian show at the Olympia (attended by 2,000 people), and worked with Pierre Barroux and Naná Vasconcelos, abandoning the contract with Philips. He recorded a second LP, Ave Noturna, in 1975 (Continental), which had "Fracassos," re-recorded later by Cauby Peixoto. In 1976, he recorded Raimundo Fagner (CBS), mixing rock and romanticism. In 1977, Orós had the arrangements by Hermeto Pascoal, representing an advanced album with poor commercial repercussion. Even then, "Cebola Cortada" had national expression. With Quem Viver Chorará, he had a real selling breakthrough (150,000 copies), having the hits "Revelação," "As Rosas não Falam" (Cartola), "Motivo" (once more, a non-credited poem by Cecília Meirelles), and "Jura Secreta." The album also had Alceu Valença as guest singer on "Punhal de Prata."
At the invitation of CBS, he created the label Epic to specialize in new talents, launching through it Amelinha, Zé Ramalho, Elba Ramalho, Robertinho de Recife, Petrucio Maia, Manassés, poet Patativa do Assaré, violonista Nonato Luiz, and others. In 1979, he released the LP Beleza (200,000 copies sold), which had "Noturno," the theme of the major soap opera Coração Alado, which yielded a great national success. The show Beleza, in Belo Horizonte, gathered 60,000 people in an open park and the stage was invaded by fans and the show canceled. In the same year, he won TV Tupi's Festival 79 with "Quem me Levará sou Eu" (Dominguinhos/Manduka). In 1980, he recorded Raimundo Fagner, with poems by Patativa do Assaré; "Eternas Ondas" was the biggest hit. Traduzir-se, in 1981, had Mercedes Sosa, Manzanita, Joan Manuel Serrat, and Cameron de La Isla as guest stars. The album was released simultaneously in Brazil and Spain. Fagner also had a hit with "Qualquer Música." "Pensamento" was included on the major soap opera Final Feliz. Palavra de Amor (1983) is dedicated to the romantic repertory, with "Guerreiro Menino" (Gonzaguinha) and guest stars Chico Buarque and Roupa Nova.
A Mesma Pessoa (1984) had beautiful music, but didn't sell. In the same year, he recorded with Luís Gonzaga an album for RCA Victor, which had both singing northeastern classics such as "Boiadeiro," "Súplica Cearense," "O Chero de Carolina," "Xote das Meninas," and others. In 1985, he released Fagner with guest stars Chico Buarque ("Paroara"), Cazuza ("Contra-mão"), and Beth Carvalho ("Te Esperei"). In 1986, he released Fagner on RCA, with the hit "Dona da Minha Cabeça," (Geraldo Azevedo/Fausto Nilo). The album had guest stars Gonzaguinha, maestro Isaac Karabtchevisky, and an orchestra. Romance no Deserto is really commercial, with "Deslizes" (Michael Sullivan/Paulo Massadas) scoring a big national hit. In 1987, Fagner worked as an actor in the series A Rainha da Vida, which had his "Rainha da Vida," "Preguiça," and "À Sombra de um Vulcão" on the soundtrack. In the next year, he recorded another album with Luiz Gonzaga. In 1989, he released O Quinze with "Amor Escondido," "Retrovisor," "Cidade Nua," and "Oração de São Francisco." It had special guests Chico Buarque and Michael Sullivan. Pedras Que Cantam (1991) had northeastern songs, boleros, and sertaneja music. "Pedras que Cantam" was the theme of the prime time soap opera Pedra Sobre Pedra, and "Borbulhas de Amor" made national success. Guest stars included Roberta Miranda and Roupa Nova. Demais (1993) is dedicated to samba-canção, accompanied by Roberto Menescal, with whom he released a live recorded album in Japan. Caboclo Sonhador (1994) is a return to northeastern roots, with less commercial success. Retrato (1995) is another genuinely northeastern and artistic album with minor commercial results. In 1996, he released Bateu Saudade, which is in fact a compilation where only the title track was then unpublished. In that year, he also released Raimundo Fagner, and recorded Terral (1997), Amigos e Canções (1998), and Fagner ao Vivo (2000). ~ Alvaro Neder