In 1995 a memorable edition of the Porretta Soul Festival was held. That year there was an incredible cast and among the audience, intrigued by the fame that the festival was beginning to have, even Piero Chiambretti who in the front row followed the performance of one of his myths, Wilson Pickett, sacred monster of black music, to whom it would have been the honor of being last on stage on the final evening. But there was another rooster in the hen house, and what a rooster! The authentic real funky chicken Rufus Thomas, an eternal young man, who called himself the world’s oldest teenager. This did not seem to upset Rufus too much who went on stage before Wilson, and who ended his show by slyly attacking Funky Chicken, his workhorse, calling dozens of girls to dance on stage. At one point he launched the legendary sentence this is my park you are my people! . The excited audience held him back for an exaggerated time. And so the irascible Wilson Pickett took the stage late at night after devastating the dressing room by throwing bottles (fortunately plastic) and threatening to leave. Rufus had not gone up last but he had made it clear to everyone that in Porretta he was the king.
The experience was so engaging for a showman like Piero Chiambretti that he decides, as soon as he gets the chance, to recreate the atmosphere of a Memphis club in a television studio, as he saw it in Porretta. He proposed it to Rai without success, apparently due to a clear refusal by Pippo Baudo with whom he had to pack a new show, and who did not share the idea. Only ten years later, with the move to La7, he will invent Markette by recreating a black club environment, bringing on stage artists of color and gospel choirs. Success was immediate. In fact, the broadcast was renewed for four seasons.
The experience at the Porretta Soul Festival was so intense that it still remains in the showman’s memory. Recently, hosting the Porretta and teen idol Andrea Montovoli at Grand Hotel Chiambretti, he asked him: but do they still do the Porretta Soul Festival? Receiving a vague answer from Andrea, perhaps still bewildered by his stay on L’Isola dei Famosi. Andrea Montovoli recalls that, as a child, he accompanied his father, who he lost at thirteen, to attend the festival many times.