The sparkling Gianni Morandi was at the Italian song contest Sanremo festival in 1980, and with him there was Alberto Beltrami. The singer-songwriter from Trentino was presenting his courageous and provocative song “Non ti drogare” (Don’t take drugs). A walk behind the scenes of a golden year for world music.
Alberto Beltrami at Sanremo Festival 1980, with Gianni Morandi
The RCA record company team was present at Sanremo with Gianni Morandi, the Decibel, Alberto Beltrami, Stefano Rosso and Aldo Donati. The festival, presented by Roberto Benigni and Cecchetto, was won by Toto Cotugno with “Solo noi”. Alberto tells it like this:
“I was on stage accompanied by my group with Lino Ruffo, Goran Kuzminac and Gaio Chiocchio and two little girls choristers. I was carrying the song “Non ti drogare”. I had won the selections out of 400 participants, so I found myself on the Ariston stage. I didn’t want to go, because at the time it wasn’t for songwriters. I was convinced by my friend Rino Gaetano, with the producer Stefano Micocci. We had rehearsed the day before, studying every movement, every hand shift, every smile, every step and nuance.”
Transgression was on stage in gym suits
Alberto Beltrami took the stage in a light blue tracksuit and ankle boots, presenting a very brave song. A very transgressive look for then. How does the choice of clothing come about? And what’s the story behind the song “Non ti drogare” (Don’t take drugs)?
“It was the producers who chose. Since I’m from Madonna di Campiglio, they wanted to give the idea of a person immersed in nature and on the move. I liked to bring some sport and pure environment to that place. The song carried a strong message for life, with an ecological background. It invited the abandonment of excess, towards a simpler life. The original lyrics spoke of “black plots”, an allusion to the heavy historical period of the time. The organizers forced me to change, so I chose “black sands”, which still made the idea”.
Gianni Morandi, a great artist
Gianni Morandi sang “Mariù”, a beautiful song written by Francesco De Gregori and Ron. Alberto relives the moments of sharing: “In the months before, we used to go together to the various radio stations to make ourselves known, brought by the record companies. Gianni Morandi didn’t make any distinction, he didn’t put himself on a pedestal, we were all equal, I was a newcomer and he was the star. He was coming from a difficult period, so it was important that he did well. During the festival we encouraged each other. Only two of our team made it to the final, Gianni Morandi and the Decibel, with “Contessa”. Gianni came to me crying and consoling me, but I was already happy, I had done my festival, I had taken only one vote less than Decibel. This shows his greatness and humanity.”
Behind the scenes. Sanremo, at the 1980 festival Gianni Morandi and Alberto Beltrami, the transgression of the gym suit.
Back then, behind the scenes there were benches like in the stadium locker room. Each artist could bring a person to help him with his makeup and clothing. The stage manager would line everyone up and make them go on stage in the right order. Alberto Beltrami recalls, “The tension was very high. Roberto Benigni was uncontrollable. Stefano Rosso had gone into a state of confusion and could no longer remember the text. They let him out with a newspaper in his hand and inside the words.”
“Today everything is much more sophisticated, complex, a bit like life. There’s so much difference between what appears on the screen and the reality of the stage. I am very impressed by the younger singers, very precise and fast. Music can give a lot in difficult times like this.”