At 19, he and his father, a singer and baker, performed with the Gioachino Rossini choir of Modena at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, where they won first prize in a voice competition.
After winning the prestigious Concorso Internazionale singing contest in 1961, he left his job as a schoolteacher and made his operatic debut as Rodolfo in a production of La Boheme.
Founded the Opera Company of Philadelphia/Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition in 1980 to encourage opera hopefuls.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his operatic debut, performed La Boheme in his hometown of Modena, Italy, and also became the first Westerner to give a concert in Beijing's Great Hall of People.
His 1990 album The Essential Pavarotti was the first classical album to reach the top of the UK pop charts.
Along with fellow Three Tenors Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo, performed the theme for the 1990 World Cup Finals in Rome.
In 1992, launched Pavarotti and Friends, a benefit concert aimed at raising funds to help victims of war and civil conflict.
Grief-stricken, he declined an invitation to sing at the 1997 funeral of his close friend Diana, Princess of Wales, but performed on a tribute album alongside Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen and U2.
Received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.
In 2004, received a 12-minute standing ovation for his final performance in a staged opera at New York's Metropolitan Opera House.