Let’s pull back to see what he’s standing in front of: It’s a storage locker with over 100,000 copies of BAM, from the 23 years of the paper publication of the magazine. Managing Editor Kenny Wardell and I, in the role of BamMagazine.com Archivist, recently met Dennis at the storage facility in the East Bay hills, where we gazed upon the well-preserved and meticulously organized collection for the first time.
These back issues fill the storage locker from ceiling to floor, stacked mostly in wooden cabinets on wheels, packed to the back of the large space, in order of date of publication. Complete sets of issues are boxed and labeled. All are in pristine condition. Published “fortnightly” (a cute way to say bi-weekly, or every 14 days) from 1976 to 1999, these artifacts document a very active era in Bay Area Music History. This fertile period saw many of our artists — Steve Miller, The Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis & The News, the Grateful Dead, Journey, MC Hammer, En Vogue, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Green Day — reach new heights of national prominence; and BAM was there to document our extremely active local music scene, as movements of punk, disco, new wave, heavy metal, rap, hip-hop and grunge pulsated through the clubs and concert venues around the San Francisco Bay.
BAM expanded its coverage to the entire California music scene by the fourth issue (thanks to a suggestion by the Grateful Dead), with an office in Hollywood by the end of 1976 (and later, an office in Orange County). The Bay Area Music Awards — "The Bammies"– started in January 1978 (first more as a local and somewhat satirical take on award shows, but they ultimately became a beloved annual event). The name of the awards show eventually morphed to The California Music Awards, which continued for a few short years after publication ceased. But the Bay Area and its music were always a main focus of BAM Magazine.
We’ll be looking for volunteers in the near future to scan, organize and package up the issues. Scanned articles and photos will be posted at BamMagazine.com in our Archives. Eventually most of the 100,000 copies will be offered for sale.
In this issue, we present, for the first time, digitized pages from the very first BAM Magazine (January 1976). As a radio DJ in San Jose back then, and with one of our KOME DJs on staff at the launch, I remember Dennis and crew bringing the first issue to the station at 1245 So. Winchester. How exciting it was that a magazine was being devoted to our music scene! I recall an article later that year about my return to KSJO as Music Director, and I wonder…who was on the cover?…who was being interviewed?…what new bands were being championed in the pages of BAM Magazine?…who was playing Winterland?…who was performing at the clubs? I guess I’ll finally get my chance to dig through, and find out!