(Bill Graham - Counterculture impresario)
Before Bill Graham came along, rock concerts were rather strange affairs. Usually a mish-mash of acts strung together to coincide with a new single or hit record, almost always playing a grand total of fifteen or twenty minutes tops, and all in all, pretty naive and hardly satisfying if you were remotely serious about your music.
But the Sixties changed all that. As Rock music evolved and went in different directions, so did the audiences taste. Like everything, it all evolved around the same time and what was the standard way of doing things no longer seemed relevant. Music was now being listened to and no longer listened at. Dancing to it was not all that important anymore, but having your mind blown was.
So Bill Graham was one of those people in the right place and at the right time and turned what was largely an archaic form of presentation that had been a throwback to the 1940s and before became something new and vital.
That he established the model for concert promotion which remains largely intact today is a testament to his foresight and canny ability to know what an audience gravitated towards. He was not universally loved, nor was he universally despised. He was a gifted impresario with a passion for the burgeoning counter-culture of the mid-1960's and many artists owe him a debt of gratitude even today, some 19 years after his death in a helicopter accident.
Part of the PBS series Day At Night, hosted by James Day from May 22, 1974, Graham gives a candid assessment of his journey as Concert Promoter. When the interview was given Graham had since closed his iconic Fillmore East and West theaters and he was able to look back on a frenetic career and offer a few tidbits on his view of the then-current music scene (in 1974).
Needless to say, if you're a musician and hadn't heard of him before, you probably owe part of your performing career to him and not even know it.