Luciano Ligabue was born in Correggio, in the province of Reggio Emilia. Before becoming a noted singer he held various jobs in such areas as agriculture and the mechanical industry.
He entered the music world in 1987 when he founded the amateur band Orazero. He wrote several original songs for this band, and they competed with them in local and national contests. The following year the singer-songwriter and fellow Emilian Pierangelo Bertoli became the first to discover his writing talent, and included one of Ligabue's songs, "Sogni di Rock'n'Roll", in his new LP.
A year after that Bertoli introduced him to producer Angelo Carrara, who would help finish the album "Ligabue", released in May 1990. Ligabue soon was a famous Italian rock star, finding fans mainly among younger audiences. His most famous hits include "Balliamo sul mondo", "Ho perso le parole" and the most successful of all, "Certe Notti", which was voted "Italian song of the 1990s" in a poll held by a popular music magazine. He also collaborated with another famous singer-songwriter, Francesco Guccini, who also had a part in Ligabue's first movie.
In 1998 Ligabue directed his first movie, "Radiofreccia", a semi-autobiographical story about a local radio station. Critics called it surprisingly well made for a newcomer, and the film received 3 David di Donatello (the highest award of Italian cinema). He also composed the soundtrack. Four years later he directed "Da Zero A Dieci": but this was not admired as much as the first work, either by critics or fans.
On September 10, 2005, Ligabue held a concert in Reggio Emilia to celebrate his first 15 years in the music business. The concert established an European record for audience attendance (single artist, paid attendance), with a crowd of 180,000 coming to listen to his songs.
Ligabue has also published a short story collection, "Fuori e dentro il Borgo", which won several literary awards, and a science-fiction novel "La neve se ne frega" (2005), which has been also made in comic book format by Panini Comics.