Written by
Bob Stumpel

February 13

Ray Charles In Concerto In Sanremo (1981)

'81 LC SanremoConcert 1981 Sanremo

Still from video.

In October 1981 Ray Charles was booked for two subsequent days in Sanremo (or in Sanremo and Viareggio). But flying to Italy, the Ray Charles group landed 7 hours late in London because of a strike by flight engineers in the U.S., and had to cancel the first concert on the 12th, scheduled on the rooftop of the Sanremo Casino.
They just made it to the other concert, on October 13, at the Teatro Tenda Bussoladomani di Lido di Camaiore (according to the credits of the video*) or at the Teatro Ariston (according to a contemporary newspaper source).
An umptieth generation low-quality 31-minute video with a partial edit of the (semi?)live concert has survived.
The preparation time for the concert clearly still had been too short. The bandstand was awkwardly small, but nevertheless flocked with a bunch of Italians (without any obvious practical role, but all staring handsomely into the cameras when they were caught by them). We can see and hear Ray calling off the first tune (Riding Thumb), because he heard “too much highs”, and after “all five” Raelettes reached the stage, he made Estella Yarbrough first check the backing vocalists’ mikes, before they started I Want Your Love. The stage had a, possibly thematic, seemingly outdated, text sign (maybe the name of a festival or concert series): “Sanremo / Estate 81” (“estate” means Summer).
The TV program was directed by Amanzio Todini, and was broadcast by Rai. The tunes that made it to my viewing copy were:

  1. Intro
  2. Riding Thumb
  3. Busted
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  6. For Mamma
  7. I Want Your Love (ft Estella Yarbrough)
  8. Baby Please Don’t Go
  9. What’d I Say

* I’m still highly confused by all toponymic data in my database related to Sanremo, Bussoladomani, Viareggio, etc. I’d be very happy with some help by Italian readers of this blog. Please contact me (bob@result.com) if you are aware of the lay of the land.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *