As it was, in 1965

Thanks to Alberigo Crocetta and
Giancarlo Bornigia, it opened to a
crowd on Friday the 17th
of February, and it was mobbed
every night from then on.

An afternoon set for the younger kids,
A night set open to everybody else.

And everybody did come. Actors
and actresses, film directors, TV
personalities writers and artists,
TV news crews from all over Europe.
(And of course, me, I was 18)

Finally a place to listen to live 'Beat'
bands with plenty of room to dance.
And plenty of people to dance with!

The music was Great!
And Loud, Very Loud!

The space was underground and accessed by a stairwell.
Rear exit doors let out to other stairs that put you back at
street level.
It had originally been designed as a movie theater,
with balconies and a projection room that became the
Sound/Light control room, run by Beppe (Il Mago) Farnetti.

The lighting and projection systems were way ahead of
its time and masterfuly run by Beppe, with whom I became
friends and to whom I provided many slides for his
twin-projectors light show.
I got to hang out in the booth and pick what records to
play while the bands weren't on.

The first two bands to take on the task of 'house band' were

The Rokes, and the Equipe 84,

but an avalanche of bands from all over Europe, the UK
and the US, would soon follow.

The Shel Carson Combo
aka : The Cabin Boys
(Tour band for Colin Hicks, a
British rocker), came to Italy on tour in
1963, and they never left.
Thanks to Italian singer-actor-impresario
Teddy Reno
they became:

The Rokes


Shel, Bobby, Mike and Johnny

Visit Bobby Posner's official
Rokes site: Click Here

See them perform:

"Ma che colpa abbiamo noi"

"Eccola di nuovo"



Equipe 84

One of Italy's first (of many to follow)
long haired 'Beat' bands, playing Italian 'covers'
of American and British songs.

Maurizio Vandelli and his band.

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The Piper club served
as a launching pad for many
emerging Italian bands...


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Other great bands that played here:

The Merseybeats
The Renegades
The Pipers
Mike Liddell & Gli Atomi
i Rokketti
i Delfini
i New Dada
Caterina Caselli & Gli Amici
Patti Pravo
Pink Floyd
The Who
Procol Harum
The Byrds
Genesis


Patti Pravo

From go-go dancer to Fame!
Nicoletta Strambelli was one of the
original Piper Girls to make it big.

See her perform:

"Ragazzo triste"

Caterina Caselli
& Gli Amici

In 1965 recorded: "La Ragazza del Piper"

Nicknamed "Casco d'oro"
she did a great cover of
"Baby please don't go"
titled "Sono qui' con voi"

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Alberigo Crocetta hired me to design
stage costumes for the new band
he was producing as the Club
'house band' and Patty Pravo's
back-up band

The Pipers

They also backed Tito Schipa Jr.
in his production of "Then an alley".

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I also designed a record cover
for an LP by the same group.



"See-Saw"
RCA/ARC Piper Club label - 1966

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The backdrop to the stage area
was designed by Roman artist
Claudio Cintoli and was titled:
"Il Giardino di Ursula".
Two big paintings and a sculpture made
of car parts, tires and all. Very Pop

The stage was wide enough to have
two bands set up their equipment
side by side, as they alternated between
live sets all night long.
In the front, big steps connected it to the
dance floor as well as stairways on both sides.
You could actually get up on stage and stand
next to the performers.... and the performers
mingled in the crowd in between sets to dance
and have a good time.

The idea mushroomed and soon
there was a second Piper Club in Viareggio,
a 'Canta-Piper' (like a Cantagiro)
of the house bands on tour....
A third club in Milano.

And the rest is history.

I left Rome in 1970 and forever
lost track of the place 'til I found
some web sites that brought back
pleasant memories and inspired
me to contribute my share.

 

The following is a review published in
Town & Country magazine
­ June 1966

WHERE TO HOWL IN ROME

By Ted Burke

The Club Scene. A few years ago I asked a friend of mine what Romans do at night. He replied, "We do absolutely nothing. There is simply no night life." While New Yorkers, Londoners, and Parisians have been slipping their discs in discotheques these many moons, Rome's stay up late crowd has been enjoying long, late dinners, lingering in crowded cafes, or just plain walking up and down the streets taking the crisp night air. In short: Rome has been Dullsville. Today the big news is that Rome is starting to swing. Now the restaurants are emptier. The café crowds don't dawdle. There aren't so many strollers in the streets. Rome's first discotheque has changed the temper of the town. The new Piper Club is the place to go-go; and Rome will never be the same. The reason for it all is an immense subterranean cave full of frantic, screaming, clapping, stamping bodies, a sea of contorted torsos and flailing flanks that makes cookie-cutter discotheques seem prim little boites. To start with, the Piper Club is vast: a veritable stadium located a good hundred and fifty steps below sidewalk level. Put London's Dolly's, The Scotch, Paris' Castel's, and New York's Trude Hellers together, toss in Zandvoorts Whisky a Go-Go and Capris Number Two Club for good measure, and theres still space for a few hundred more dancers with plenty of room to motivate.

On Saturday night the joint jumps as five hundred ye'-ye' types, their older brothers and sisters, and everyone that wants to make the scene twists, jerks, swims, surfs, monkeys, mouse or hully- gully in a pulsating mass ritual that gives new meaning to the word "release". No demure dancers, these.
The décor cries out for exhibitionism. Seven raised platforms, each lit from the bottom, invite solo feats of improvisation. Three hundred and fifty low key stage lights blink pink, blue, yellow green, and white from the rafters. Eighty-five loud speakers relay a stereophonic cacophony. Four hundred dancers take the cues. Shy types tun into show-offs. Introverts blossom into extroverts. Tone-deaf hipsters find the beat. Everybody dances ­ alone (who needs a partner, anyway?), a deux, a trois, and in gangs. They do just what they want to: change partners on the spur of the moment. Improvise instant dramas, or leap from one floor-illuminated stage to another one of the seven. The total effect is bacchanalian A combo belts out rock 'n' roll. Two giant Pop Art murals smile down on the scene, each a Fellini-size sex goddess, lips parted provocatively, white teeth gleaming. Two long-mained English beat groups take turns shaking the floor. In recent months the line up of groups ­ there are always two who alternate in the same evening ­ has included The Rokes, The Eccentrics, The Echoes, The Bushmen, The Missiles, The Primitives, The Honey-combs, The Meteors, The Bad Boys, and The African Beavers. And the dances: everyone does The Letkiss, Europe's new rage (no one knows quite how to dance it, but everybody seems to be getting the general idea),
the Zorba-the-Greek Dance, and the timeworn hully-gully ­ unbelievably eerie when a full three hundred dancers, each one oblivious to the others, line up chorus style to step the narcissistic paces ­ a ritual that makes the parade of decadents in 8 1/2 seem plain vanilla. According to one regular, the Piper Club's magic is that "you can dance anywhere ­ on a platform, on your table, on the ceiling. The management, God bless them,, couldn't care less". Another go-goer takes a broader view, "Romans are natural hams. We love to be stage center, and we're all terribly body conscious. We love to show off or watch someone else show off". On any given night a batch of Rome's prettiest ye'-ye' girls turn out to spark the action. They are the Piperine, some thirty strong in full force, who dress in "dirty-color" sweaters and clinging Capris, know all the new steps and gladly teach them but aren't paid a penny by the house. The boys, in jeans, well-cut trousers, or suits (with tie carefully askew), come to dance with them. And "older" people ­ those in their late twenties and thirties and up ­ come in after midnight to find out what goes. "We get a very mixed crowd here," says the manager. "In the winter a dinner jacket group arrives after the opera, rub shoulders with bohemians from the Spanish Steps, and loves it. After all, on the dance floor you can't tell the shop girl from a princess. Celebrities come at two and stay till we close, at three-thirty: Lelio Luttazzi, Don Lurio, Monica Vitti, Vittorio Gassman, and a whole flock of others".

Below: Rome's swinging discotheque, The Piper Club: The Rokes, The Bad Boys, "piperini" and sex goddesses make the scene.

The Piper Club has surely endured the years...
It's still going strong.

Visit their website at:

www.piperclub.it

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In 2005 they released a 2-disc
40th Anniversary
CD set on the
RCA-ARC-Piper Club Series label.

Below are some quotes from the insert calendar:

 

 

In 2007 a book was pubblished by Rorrado Rizza and Guido Michelone:

Tons of great photos of all the people that attended the club and made it happen.
I recognized many faces of young friends I hung out with and danced with...

(Didn't see my face... Searched the croud shots.....)

 

IT WAS FRIDAY THE 17th!

"The date chosen by the two owners Bornigia-Crocetta
for the official inauguration (Pilot-evenings had taken place earlier),
was already an anticipation of transgression. Another un-precedented
fact, was that for the first time the demarcation line between stage and
public is abolished, allowing everybody to be a protagonist.
What the Piper (Club) offered in terms of artistic expression,
in youth style, in ways of behaving and thinking, became law."

(F. Muscinelli, "Alle origini del mito")

 

"It was like an underground temple, a cave accessible by
a long staircase, on which half way down you could
start hearing the music. After the last few steps the sound
was at a really high volume, never before heard, and finally
your eyes took in the spectacle of the dance floor, crowded
with youths agitating to the rythm of the shake, or any of
the other dances that lasted the span of a season. At the end
there was the stage, raised higher than the floor but
accessible by large steps, not distant, not exclusive, just as if
music, even physically, was within everybody's grasp."

(Luciano Ceri, catalogo mostra "Beat!")

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