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Charlie Thomas' Blog

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Bill Graham

Of all the folks I've had the chance to chat on the radio with over the years, Bill Graham was the most fascinating (pic from summer 1987). Monday 10/25 marks 19 yrs since his death in 1991 from that helicopter crash. Bill not only energized the SF music scene in the 60s, bringing the Dead, the Airplane, Santana, into the international spotlight..he transformed the whole business of rock concerts.  When I spoke to him in 1987, he had just arranged an American rock  concert in Moscow (BEFORE the wall came down)...and announced on-air with me that Skynyrd was reuniting for a tour with Johnny Van Zandt. Sure, he could be brusque, and prone to strong-arm business tactics, but here was a guy who had escaped Nazi Germany as a child...and still enjoyed playing cowbell when he sat in with Santana.  Bill also liked putting bands on a bill that seemingly did not go together..just for the variety & additional exposure...and staged many concerts as benefits.  In fact, the night he died, he was returning from Concord Pavilion after discussing plans for a show to benefit victims of the Oakland firestorm.  RIP...BG.

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10/22/2010 12:16PM
Bill Graham
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10/25/2010 4:00AM
Shortly after he passed I got to work three years for BGP while in college. I was able to meet folks like Jerry Garcia, John Lee Hooker & George Clinton among many others. BTW love the hair! lol
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