Before and after. Before that evening and after that concert. There is a date, September 19, 1981, and a stage, in Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples. There are six musicians: Pino Daniele, Tullio De Piscopo, Joe Amoruso, Rino Zurzolo, Tony Esposito and Jamese Senese. Ther e are 200,000 very excited people. The streets are alive, the traffic at a standstill.
Once upon a time, 41 years ago. September 19, 1981 was a Sunday. And there I was, in Piazza del Plebiscito, from 10 in the morning. Not yet sixteen and full of excitement. The greatest emotion was a few hours before the concert, when it was clear that I was about to be part of - and not just attend - a concert that would go down in history.
On September 19, 1981, almost a year after the terrible earthquake in Irpinia, Pino Daniele, then 26, with his superband made people forget for a few hours a tragedy that had affected everyone deeply. On June 27 of the previous year, his band (all involved in the album Vai mò, also the title of the successful tour) was the openig act for the historic concert in Milan by Bob Marley.
The 'king' of the drumsticks, creator of such mind-blowing and sensational rhythms as Andamento lento, Tullio De Piscopo, described with great emotion the concert in Naples that changed the narrative of great musical events in Italy. “The day before" , he said, we got to Naples and Pino was tense and focused. We were doing something huge. On September 19, in the afternoon, the square was already nearly full. Those who couldn’t find a place camped in the streets and in the surrounding areas. Pino was loved all over Italy, but in Naples, the incredible happened. We didn't see much from the stage, just the square full of people. I continued to play but I noticed security giving first aid to lots of kids who had passed out in the crowd. "James Senese parked his Mercedes next to the stage; after the concert, he found the roof caved in because people had climbed onto it to get a better view. And it wasn't the only car ruined that evening". (Tullio De Piscopo)
Once upon a time, 41 years ago. September 19, 1981 was a Sunday. And there I was, in Piazza del Plebiscito, from 10 in the morning. Not yet sixteen and full of excitement.
In the end, we couldn't sleep, but we had changed the history of musical events in Italy. And even Piazza del Plebiscito, since then, has never been the same; it had become the most beautiful open-air theatre in the city.”
From drums to percussion. Tony Esposito, explosive sounds and incredible hand movement, was also consecrated that night. “That concert was important,” he remembers, “for the first time, we had tens of thousands of people in front of us. The group was born almost for fun and we found ourselves facing Pino’s massive rise to fame. And the most emotional of us all was him. Pino was incredulous, also because he was the least used to it. I, like James Senese and Tullio De Piscopo, had already done concerts and had big successes. Then we rose to fame, which we shared. Tullio, James, Joe Amoruso, Rino Zurzolo... we were a group and we toured Europe, even with important events like the Bob Marley concert. Everyone did their bit, contributed with their own sound which was then all of us together: me with my Africa, Pino with jazz, Tullio with rhythm & blues. Then Pino, on the turn of 2000, wanted to reunite the group that had broken up because personal successes had become more urgent. I met Pino in Rome, and he told me it was time for reunion. He said to me, “we’re doing it for the children of our fans,” because there were all these kids to be shown the mixture of styles and songs. Unfortunately Pino left us at a time of great and rediscovered friendship. The beauty was all of us playing together, now adults and happier, with less anxiety about success because everyone had made their own way, even on a commercial level. And we were more relaxed."It was a wonderful experience,” emphasizes the creator of Kalimba de luna, full of emotion, “unfortunately suddenly ended in a tragic way, which we didn’t expect. Now, there is the great memory, with Pino's songs that are always included in our repertoire.” (Tony Esposito)
Forty-one years after that great evening, the memories are all still there: the girls who sang Pino's songs at the top of their voices; my friends who danced to the rhythm of Tullio's drums and Tony's percussion; me trying to capture it all with a mega Polaroid, with built-in flash and with poor results.
It was a wonderful experience, full of emotion, suddenly ended in a tragic way, which we didn’t expect. Now, there is the great memory, with Pino's songs that are always included in our repertoire. (Tony Esposito)
Forty-one years later, the songs by Pino Daniele and his superband have gone from stereo 8 cassettes to mini-cassettes, from vinyl to CDs, and vice versa. They are in computers, in mobile phones. Unfortunately, few filmed documents and few audio recordings remain of the concert.
"It was a wonderful experience,” emphasizes the creator of Kalimba de luna, full of emotion, “suddenly ended in a tragic way, which we didn’t expect. Now, there is the great memory, with Pino's songs that are always included in our repertoire.” (Tony Esposito)
Forty-one years later, Pino Daniele, Rino Zurzolo and Joe Amoruso are no longer here. But their music and their songs remain the soundtracks to our dreams. And dreaming, after all, is still the best way to live.
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