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Posted by on Jan 8, 2008 in Arts & Entertainment | 2 comments

Bill Graham: An Appreciation

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01asinger.jpgGraham flips the bird; Fillmore West closing poster

Concert impressario Bill Graham was known for three things: Foul language, picking up trash wherever he encountered it, whether backstage at his own venues or elsewhere, and a deep and abiding love of music — if not necessarily musicians — that he parlayed into what is without question the most extraordinary run of concerts in rock ‘n’ roll history.

To say that the charismatic Graham could be difficult is an understatement. He introduced himself to me by way of asking “What the f*ck are you doing?” the first time I bumped into him back stage at a concert. He was, of course, picking up trash at the time.

It’s not just that Graham caught the counterculture wave in San Francisco at just the right time, he rode it hard, along the way helping introduce and in a few cases promote some of the seminal music acts from that era. They included the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Big Brother, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish and his personal favorite, the Grateful Dead, with whom he had a love-hate relationship for years. (The Dead felt the same way.)

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • GeorgeSorwell

    And as the doors fly open even the promoter smiles.

  • SteveK

    Being of the era (and in the neighborhood) my first thoughts of Bill Graham are initially anger… There was a lot of angry because he charged us $3 where as before he set up shop Speedway Meadows concerts happened almost every weekend during good weather and they were FREE!!! All in all though he’s contribution to rock and roll is immeasurable.

    Note: His last show (the “Bill Graham Memorial Concert” at the Polo Grounds 11/3/91) was free and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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