The Other Side of the Coin

The second floor of the Holocaust Museum was taken over with an exhibit on Wulf Wolodia Grajonca aka Bill Graham– the famous Rock and Roll impresario:

Wulf, er, Bill came here from Germany via France in order to escape the Nazis at age of 10. He was never adopted, rather he lived with a foster family. Graham attended high school and college in New York.

He moved to the west coast in the early 1960’s. In 1965 he managed a mime group called “The San Francisco Mime Troupe”.

Soon thereafter he teamed with Chet Helms (a noted band manager) and Family Dog to promote a benefit concert. This began a long career of promoting concert events at the Fillmore West and Wonderland. Graham worked with many legendary groups including: Santana, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company to name a few — see photos and original posters:

Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead poster:

Walls showing posters and photos of both groups:

Jerry Garcia sans beard:

Etta James and Martha and the Vandallas posters:

A poster for a concert by Jimi Hendrix/John Mayall/BB King:

Graham loved Jimi Hendrix:

Clothes worn by Jimi Hendrix:

Two of Graham’s favorite female performers — Grace Slick and Janis Joplin:

Another Graham favorite — The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin:

Graham promoted many of the Stones tours. At one point Graham tried to halt the Stones concert at Altamont Race Track to no avail:

Graham promoted acts for Woodstock in 1969 — like Santana:

He also promoted Live Aid — to battle world hunger in 1985:

He managed the Philadelphia part of this concert that involved hundreds of acts including:

Crosby, Stills and Nash:

Bob Dylan and The Band (Graham later managed the Dylan/The Band Final tour including the Scorsese film titled the “Last Waltz”):

Of course, Neil Young:

And last but not least U-2 — see Bono:

He also promoted other charitable causes like California Earthquake Relief — here with Bob Hope:


The cause for Black Freedom in South Africa with Nelson Mandela:

Along the way he gathered a few awards — Robin Williams was one presenter at the MTV Awards:

Graham overcame his past and built an amazing life in the US. And he was Jewish. Yes, that’s right he was a Jewish refugee. This man refused to cow to the forces of evil. Didn’t he build an amazing life?

He was present at so many seminal moments of Rock and Roll. Who didn’t he know? Who didn’t he promote? When a cause needed someone to support it — he seemed to always there.

In 1991, he was working to promote a benefit for California fire relief. He’d signed Huey Lewis and the News for the event. The helicopter he was traveling in crashed killing Graham at the age of 60.

Clearly, Graham’s untimely death is offset by his talents as a leader, friend, father confessor and promoting maestro.

Graham will always be one for the ages!


About tourdetom

I'm retired. Travel a lot.
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