An Open Letter to Bill Graham
By Nolan Apostle
Cinema & Videography
Talent and Research
Event City Creative Magazine
I had the opportunity to attend your exhibit the other day. The second run of your first tour ever, aptly named, the Rock & Roll Revolution. Did you know they were putting this on? Did you know you were part of a revolution? What a show! I must say, this is a grand tour! It started in LA and ran for 5 months, and now in San Francisco. There are plans for 4 other cities, maybe even more to come. David and Alex have been key organizers of this grand tour of yours. You’d be very proud of your boys, and who these young positive men have become. They surely show the passion they have adopted from their effervescent father.
The show includes an historical adventure of photographic images through the world of Rock’n’Roll, some unique video footage and a wonderful collection of memorabilia from your personal life and your reign as Mr. BGP. I’m telling all my friends it is a must see exhibit, one that brings out your personal passion for the industry and possibly even another side of you that many people may not have heard about or experienced until coming to your exhibit.
Anyone could easily spend an entire day enjoying the images and memorabilia at your show. Seeing some old associates again who have spent such a great deal of time and effort to help bring all of this together, Bonnie Simmons and Danny Scher is always a treat. The two of them along with Alex and David are the main supporters of your exhibition. It is organized by the Skirball Cultural Center, curated by Erin Clancey, and your very own Bill Graham Memorial Foundation. This show is about you, your life and your “family”. Of course David and Alex, who incidentally have shared some fascinating stories with me, I didn’t know their Aunt Ester did concessions early on, and the hundreds of those who worked at Bill Graham Presents and helped to mold an industry and create standards for the world of concert and show production, all part of your family. Pat yourself on your back Bill, you did good, you did good by your family and the world of music.
I spent about 20 minutes talking with Alex about a photograph of you and him, he was sitting on your lap, as well as a personal note you wrote to him and David, something about “P.F.”? Remember it? I’ve placed the note on here so you can see it. As we exchanged stories, talking about that photo and the note, it was a moving experience to watch Alex’s glance move upward as if he were looking for you, to see if you were listening to our conversation.
There were quite a few people attending this preview, and in the short two hours you would be amazed as to how many of them spent at least several minutes at a time just taking in a photograph or a memorabilia piece and how ear to ear smiles were prevalent throughout the venue. You would certainly have that happy Bill smile on your face watching them.
Someone who was as full of life as you were Bill, this exhibit surely cannot capture your true essence, your compassion and passion for the kids, the fans, the music and the communities around you. As a mentor you taught so many of us who worked with you as well as those who were able to just be there, in your presence, the value of that compassion. One of your mentees, AJ, said to me that you were a great boss and an amazing man, I wish I could agree with him. I’m sorry Bill, but I believe we need to work on a plan, we need to find a new word, I propose we add a new adjective to the English language to capture your essence as the man who created an industry, who cared for the kids, the fans, and who loved his community and his family. I’ve thought about this for a long time now. What would be that perfect new word to describe who you are? How’s this sound Bill…
G R A H A M A Z I N G !!?? Anyone have a contact at Webster’s? Bill, I’ll keep an eye out for you at the exhibit, knowing you, you wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Oh yeah, one last note, THANK YOU for all you did, created, and for having the tenacity of a thousand warriors and the audacity to do what so many others wouldn’t even dreamed of trying.
Explore the life of Bill Graham (1931–1991) from his childhood as a German Jewish refugee to his pivotal role in making rock music a multi-billion dollar global industry. The exhibition, Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution, looks at his immense success as a rock promoter and his pioneering work behind the scenes to use rock music to raise consciousness and deliver aid to those in need. The San Francisco Exhibition opens on Thursday March 17, 2016 and runs through July 5, 2016 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. It is being organized by the Skirball Cultural Center, in Los Angeles.