When Fabrizio De André refused to go on tour with Bob Dylan and Santana

When Fabrizio De André refused to go on tour with Bob Dylan and Santana

The European tour that brought Bob Dylan and Santana to our country in 1984 was epochal for Italian fans: after the undeclared embargo on the country imposed by the great international live circuit following the riots that characterized major musical events in the Seventies, the big global ones – starting with Bob Marley, who in June 1980 held a historic show at the Meazza stadium in San Siro, Milan – were once again appearing in our area.

The calendar of the series of joint events drawn up for the giant of American songwriting and the guitar virtuoso of Mexican origins had reserved a special position for Italy: after the two opening dates at the Verona Arena on 28 and 29 May, the tour would have taken the route of Central Europe and Scandinavia, returning however to the Italian stages four more times, three – on 19, 20 and 21 June – at the Palazzo dello Sport in Rome and once – on 24 June – at the Meazza stadium, in the Lombardy capital.

David Zard, the doyen of Italian promoters who passed away in 2018, managed the six local dates and to make the events even more unmissable he decided to pair the two rock legends with the greatest singer-songwriter that the domestic scene could boast at the time: Fabrizio De André. Zard contacted the great Genoese artist to offer him the job, but the rumor of “Bocca di Rosa” – despite an operation with a sidereal artistic profile – declined. This was revealed by Dori Ghezzi, De André's widow, to the journalist and music critic Mario Luzzato Fegiz during an interview granted to Corriere della Sera:

“Fabrizio refused because he didn't feel ready. Our beloved friend Fernanda Pivano, knowing both subjects (Dylan and De André), slyly said to him one evening: 'Tell me the truth Fabrizio, didn't you want Dori to meet Dylan?'”

During the same interview, Ghezzi revealed that she had been – about ten years before the Dylan / Santana tour in Italy – very close to signing a contract with Motown, the legendary soul and r'n'b label founded in late 1950s by Berry Gordy. The opportunity arose during the period in which Dori Ghezzi was performing in a duo with the American singer Wess – born Wesley Johnson, who passed away in 2009. The singer said:

“In the early months of '75 while 'A body and a soul' sung with Wess was raging, the set of the film 'Mahogany', produced and directed by Berry Gordy, founder of Tamla Motown, moved to Rome. The strange 'café latte' couple did not go unnoticed by Gordy. We found ourselves on the set of the film and a few days later Gordy offered us a contract that would have tied us to Tamla Motown for five years. I would have been the first and perhaps only non-black artist in the Detroit house. But nothing came of it… Wess was considered a deserter in the US (he would have ended up in Vietnam) or perhaps in Italy they didn't want to lose us”