Museum To Present Bill Graham Retrospective

It’s not every day that a museum announces it will present an exhibition focusing on the life and times of a concert promoter.  But then, Bill Graham wasn’t your typical ticket seller.

Photo: Photo by Baron Wolman / courtesy of Photofest

Running May 7 through Oct. 11 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution” will present artifacts, mementos, visuals and other items representing the man who changed the face of live music.  Graham died in a helicopter crash in 1991 at the age of 60.

Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1931, Graham escaped The Holocaust by going to France and, eventually, the U.S., where he lived on the East Coast and eventually served in the military during the Korean War.  After Graham moved to San Francisco during the early 1960s he became the business manager for the San Francisco Mime Troupe.  The very first show he promoted was a fundraiser to raise money for the legal defense of the Troupe’s Ronnie Davis who had been busted on obscenity charges.

The museum exhibit promises an in-depth look at the man whose concert promotion business grew alongside the then-budding careers of acts like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin.  Included will be memorabilia, photographs, archival concert footage, historical and new video interviews, and other items illustrating the life of one of music’s most legendary non-performing figures.  Photographs and artifacts, many of which have never been seen by the public, which will be on loan from the Graham family.

There will also be a collection of those famous Fillmore posters created by Bonnie MacLean, Wes Wilson, David Singer, Greg Irons and David Byrd, plus an art installation titled “The Joshua Light Show.”  It was multimedia artist Joshua White whose liquid light shows played as backdrops during many Graham-promoted concerts.

From countless “Days On The Green” to promoting tours by The Rolling Stones, from Fillmores both East and West to US Festivals, Live Aid and portraying Father Time at The Grateful Dead’s legendary New Year’s Eve shows, Bill Graham was an influential force in modern music yet he never picked up a guitar or sang a note.  For more information about “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution, please click here for the Skirball Cultural Center’s website.