He was the hub of the wheel that is the Bay Area Music scene, and his energy is still felt in the staging and presentation of live music still in motion today. Carlos Santana was a guest on my morning show in San Francisco the next morning after the crash. We shared the grief as losing a father figure to both of us and held hands, over the air, with the community. Bill Graham was 60, and his early death was a loss as profoundly felt as Steve Jobs, and more shocking in that it was in a flash when his Helicopter smashed into the top PG&E tower over the Napa River.
The Tower had no lights, yet rose about 15 feet higher than the towers along Highway 37. Bill’s pilot, Steve “Killer” Kahn was flying above them as they flew back to Marin in the first big rainstorm of the season. Bill’s girlfriend, Melissa Gold, was the only other passenger. Bill had gone to the Concord Pavilion to personally ask Huey Lewis to headline a concert for the Oakland Hill fire victims. Philanthropy was Bill’s main interest in his finale years. Melissa Gold was also active in many community causes. Hard to say what impact Bill would have had on society if he hadn’t “left the building.” What I am sure of is it would have been profound.
“Steve Jobs was to the computer industry what Bill Graham was to the concert business. Both were abrasive, unapologetically brilliant visionaries that rewrote the rules of their businesses. The doors of perception for both were shaped by 60’s idealism while the roads they drove to success were paved with streamline capitalism. A half million people paid homage to Graham at a wake after his death, as those grieving Jobs laid apples at the gates of his empire these past weeks,” stated Bill Sagan founder of Wolfgang’s Vault.
Until next time,
Paul “The Lobster” Wells