The Original Happeings Poster 1  

San Remo Song Festival 1967:
The Happenings were invited to perform at San Remo in 1967 and given the song "Quando Vedro" to learn and sing in the competition. We flew into Rome about ten days before the actual start of rehearsals and did some sight seeing, then took a train to San Remo on the Italian Riviera. It was absolutely spectacular there! We had some time so we drove to Nice, France and even played some table games at the Monte-Carlo Casino in Monaco. Rehearsals started around 1/24/67 and the show started 1/26/67.

The San Remo Song Festival was held each year in San Remo Italy at the San Remo Casino until 1971. Now it's called the Eurovision Song Festival and it's held in different European cities each year. It's really a song contest show. They invite artists from different countries to come and sing one or two songs in Italian and a native Italian artist also sings the same song for the judges and the theater audience. It was shown live all over Europe on Eurovision. Artists are eliminated or not each night for about three or four nights. Finally the last man, woman or group standing wins! I think you get a free Calzone or something!
Actually, it's a very prestigious thing to be invited and quite an honor. I don't know what you
win because we didn't!

Here is a list of most of the artists that appeared there in 1967 with us:

Gene Pitney
Connie Francis
Marianne Faithfull
Dionne Warwick
Luigi Tenco
Sonny & Cher
The Hollies
Domenico Mudugno
Bobby Goldsboro
Los Bravos
Claudio Villa ( sang "Non pensare a me" and he won the song festival that year)
Los Marcellos (this group sang the same song as we did but I never heard them do it).

Luigi Tenco: I made friends with an Italian singer, song writer named Luigi Tenco during sound check and rehearsals. He was friendly, but intensely focused on winning this contest. He said this meant very much to him and winning was everything for his career. On January 26, 1967 the contest began! We sang our song "Quando Vedro" and it came off okay. Then Luigi sang his song and was eliminated that first night. He was crushed!
The next day (January 27, 1967) Luigi was found dead in his hotel room with a single gunshot to the head. It was just hours after learning that his song had been eliminated. A note they found there said this was a protest against the members who voted against him. Wow! Talk about passionate.

The Happenings: I spent months learning "Quando Vedro" and "See You in September" in Italian. I was pissed because the other guys (my guys) only had to learn ooh's and ah's and I had to learn another freakin language! We used the San Remo orchestra there and it sounded okay. Not great! It was over so quickly, but we lasted two nights. Then we were eliminated too, along with the Hollies, Bobby Goldsboro and a few others. I was disappointed, but not enough to shoot myself! I was nervous because of the language thing and didn't really feel connected to the music, but it was exciting and a lot of fun!

Sonny & Cher: I never got to talk to Sonny, but I did speak with Cher. She was so sweet and down to earth and they were at that time huge international stars. She was very nervous about performing the song "Ma Piano" in Italian. She hadn't had time to learn it really with her schedule, so she wrote the words on her palm. That night I watched from back stage and on the TV monitors as all of Europe could see her hand coming up to cue the next set of words. But no one seemed to care! It was Cher for God's sake! Besides, her voice sounded amazing!  Sonny was not on stage at all and didn't sing, he conducted the orchestra. They did do another song together where they both sang in Italian and that song was "ll Cammino Di Ogni Speranza". They were eliminated too!

Marianne Faithfull: I never spoke with her, but she seemed very quiet and shy. Maybe she was just nervous too, like all of us singing in a different language. Everyone knew she was going with Mick Jagger at the time and we kept looking for him to show up. He never did. I guess he was with some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend!

Domenico Mudugno: He was like an Italian God in Italy at that time. In 1958 he had maybe the biggest international hit of all time with "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu"(Volare) and now he was in the movies too. Later, he would even become a member of the Italian Parliament. It goes to show you the kind of qualifications you need for Italian government positions. You've got to know how to sing that's all! Even with all his clout he didn't win either. It's a song contest! 

Gene Pitney: I always loved his voice and the hits he had. He was very popular in Europe and I think he had a home in Italy or France. Always a gentleman and we also did a bus tour with him, the Buckinghams and the Easybeats later that year in 1967. He never missed a high note. He was like a Roy Orbison or Johnny Maestro. I never heard any one of them miss a high note. Even when Johnny got sick he never missed a note. Pitney had done the festival many other times and had finished second twice before. Many people don't know what a great writer he was too. He wrote "Hello Mary Lou" for Rick Nelson and "He's a Rebel" for The Crystals.

Bobby Goldsboro: He sang the song "Un Ragazzo" He was a very funny guy and always joking around. We later in that year worked with him again several times in the States.

Claudio Villa: I'd never heard of him before, but he had sold a lot of records in Italy and was more of an opera singer than a pop singer. He had a great voice and a great song that year called "Non Pensare A Me". He was the last man standing in the competition in 1967. He not only won in 1967, but also won in 1955, 1957, 1962 and it didn't hurt that he was good friends with Pavarotti. 

I never saw or heard Connie Francis or Dionne Warwick. They must have performed at different days or times than we did. All in all it was an exciting experience for us. We got to see our own popularity in a different country and made some new friends too! We loved Italy and France. Thank You San Remo!

~