Twenty years ago this week, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham went to the big backstage party in the sky after the helicopter he was riding in flew into a high-voltage tower in Vallejo, Calif. Also killed in the crash was Graham's girlfriend, Melissa Gold, and pilot Steve Kahn. Graham was en route to his home after sealing the deal for an appearance by Huey Lewis & The News at a benefit concert bill for folks in Oakland and Berkeley who were affected by an intense and damaging firestorm. Graham was just 60 years old.
Graham, who was only 60 years old, helped usher in a new world in concert promotion with his strong-arming work in the '60s, '70s and '80s. He operated three venues: San Francisco's Fillmore West and Winterland Ballroom, and the Fillmore East in New York.
Besides the music, his Fillmore West concerts in the '60s were known for their great posters, made by some of the best artists in the scene. Great colorful psych jobs full of swooping letters and cosmic designs, they are still influential and sought after to this day. Let us not forget the great bills those posters advertised, either.