Fifteen years ago today, the music world lost a living legend that made it possible for even this website to exist. No, it’s not Internet inventor Al Gore, it’s famed concert promotor and producer Bill Graham, and we honor his memory today.
Graham’s helicopter crashed near Vallejo, California on this day a decade and a half ago, as he was coming home from a Huey Lewis & The News concert at the Concord Pavillion. I’d like to eulogize one of the genuine articles of the music business, but I’m not sure I can top what I wrote about him in April 2005 after finishing his unofficial rock primer, Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out.
It’s funny how his Bill Graham Presents operation ended up in Clear Channel’s hands, only to be spun off and and sold into the LiveNation stable. Sure, Graham was a capitalist and tried to make cash, but he wanted his guests and patrons to have the time of their lives for the ticket money they paid. And, yes, it’s a different world now, but those two corporate conglomerates could learn a thing or two from the spirit of that man and his shows. Instead of standing on the shoulders of a true giant, they’re stuck under his shoe like chewed-up street gum.
You may be gone, but at least we have Wolfgang’s Vault. Big time, Bill, big time.