Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: bill graham (page 1 of 5)

Beck And Will Call

This might be the only time I can say this: Bill Graham is adorable.


That woman’s hair is crooked.


Those are Ovation guitars, Young Enthusiasts. They were made of polymers and petroleum squeezings, and their backs were big salad bowls made of tacky, thick plastic. They were popular because they were (one of) the first acoustic-electric guitars, which meant they had built-in pickups and you could plug them right into the amp. Before this, you would hold your acoustic guitar in the vicinity of a microphone; this would produce a sound made of 90% feedback, 5% extraneous noise, and 5% music.

Any song you played on an Ovation sounded like Bon Jovi.


That couch is mostly semen and marijuana seeds.


Seven drinks for five people. Sounds like Grateful Dead math.


“Um, excuse me.”

Oh, hey, Bobby. What’s up?

“You seen my beard?”

Look to your left.


And twenty years in the future.

“Ah, there it is.”


Hey, David Gans, author of This is all a Dream we Dreamed. Is that you next to Bobby?

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

  • Hitler was a snappy dresser.
  • Pol Pot’s name is so easy to spell.
  • Yes, 700 young men died in the USS Arizona, but remember that shot from Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor?
  • Stalin’s hair was gorgeous.
  • Many people in the burn ward forge lasting friendships with their fellow patients.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank has earned its publisher millions of dollars over the years, spurring job creation.
  • The Reverend Jim Jones had a very diverse congregation.
  • Mobuto Sese Seko could wear the fuck out of a leopard-skin pillbox hat; most people–hell, most dictators–couldn’t pull that off.
  • Mao was prolific.

And we close once again with the Big H:

  • No Hitler, no Bill Graham: if the Nazis don’t exist, than Wulf Grajonca stays in Berlin and grows up to manage Can.

This is a fun game, New York Times. Can we not play it anymore?

And You Will Be The Leader Of A Big Old Band

“Get off the seat, schmuck! Yes, you. The schmuck I’m pointing at. Why would you stand on my seats? I don’t come to your house and stand on your mother. Get down or I’m gonna find out where you live and jump up and down on your mother’s chest like a gorilla, I swear to God. You stand on my seats? How DARE you! After all that Bill Graham does for the community, for the fans, for this rock and roll music that we all love so much, you stand on my seats?

“Better. Okay, we got some announcements before the J. Geils Band comes on. They’re just great, very high-energy, fantastic look, you’re gonna love ’em. Tee-shirts are available in the lobby. Next week we’ll be featuring Iron Butterfly, and maybe they’ll be better than last time. Nice guys, terrible band. Boom boom boom, who gives a shit? Music to take ‘ludes to. We put on the acts the kids want, so they’ll play here, but they’re just snooze time for me, y’know?

“Now, Chuck Berry? That’s the other end of the spectrum. Musically? The best, no peer, you can’t touch him. He’s Chuck Berry, y’know? Without him, you’re still playing jazz. In my opinion? The King. Forget Elvis, that pinky-dicked hillbilly. You got Little Richard, and you got Jerry Lee, but above all of them is Chuck. Top of the pyramid.

“And the biggest pain in the ass you’re ever gonna meet. We’ve presented him a number of times, starting back in ’67. I always asked the acts, ‘Who do you wanna see?’ and they always said the same thing. ‘Naked girls.’ And then I would say, ‘No, putz. Musically! Musically!’ And always the same answer: Chuck Berry. Fine, so I’m gonna book Chuck Berry.

“No manager. No agent, booking guy, whatever. You gotta call Chuck direct. I get his number.

“‘Chuck, this is Bill Graham. I’m a promoter in San Francisco blah blah blah.’ I give him the whole sales pitch and he says,

“‘How much?’

“I tell him $600. This is ’67. That’s good money for a show.


“I say ‘$700.’

“Nothing. Don’t even hear him breathing.

“I say ‘$800’ and Chuck says,

“‘What night?’

“I tell him the night, and he goes,

“‘I need a band, a Cadillac, and three white women.’ and hangs up the phone.

“Shit, I can do that. First, I need a band to back up the great Chuck Berry. I was gonna call the Dead, but they didn’t even know their own songs at that point, and I was pretty sure they would scare the shit out of Chuck. I booked them to open, anyway. Then, I called the Jefferson Airplane but I got in a screaming match with Paul Kantner and I told him to go fuck himself. I tried the Flaming Groovies, but they were booked that night.

“Finally, I called up Stevie Miller. He was always around, and he would work cheap. I gave him the whole shpiel, what an honor it was to back up Chuck, rock and roll legend, yadda yadda. Pretty little putz bought it hook, line, and sinker. Got a band for $20 and a couple cases of beer. They’re gonna learn all the songs, wonderful.

“Afternoon of the show, I send the white women to the airport in Chuck’s Cadillac. Couple hours go by. No Chuck. I call the airline. Plane landed, no problem. But no Chuck. I’m shvitzing here.

“‘Play longer,’ I tell the Dead. They were fine with that. Instead of playing the songs for twenty minutes, they played them for a half-hour. They’re real pros.

“Finally–finally!–here comes Chuck up Post Street in the Cadillac with the three white women, two of whom are dead.

“Chuck! Did you kill the white women?’ I yelled at him.

“Chuck gets out of the Cadillac, he’s carrying his guitar case. No luggage, nothing. Just him and his guitar and a Cadillac and three white women, two of whom are dead. Says nothing, just holds out his hand. I give him the check. Chuck looks at the check, back at me, at the check. Opens up his hand and the check drops to the ground. Gets back in the Cadillac, stares straight ahead. Says one word.


“It’s ten o’clock at night in a bad neighborhood in 1967. Where am I gonna get a thousand dollars from? I run back into Winterland. I gotta go by the stage, and Phil Lesh yells at me as I pass that they’re running out of material. I make a mental note to scream at him in Yiddish later, but first I gotta get a thousand bucks in cash.

“I got two hundred, something like that, so I shake down everyone who works for me. I give ’em IOU’s. Forty bucks from him, twelve dollars from her, whatever. It’s not enough! What am I gonna do? Fuck it: I go into the crowd and start looking for people I know.

“‘Hey, Bill.’

“‘Hey, yourself,’ I tell ’em. ‘Gimme all your cash; I’ll pay you back.’

“Bill Graham invented crowdfunding!”

“It takes an hour, but I get the money. At this point, the Dead are completely out of material, and have been playing a 12-bar blues for 25 minutes. I go outside and Chuck is still sitting there in the Cadillac staring straight ahead. All of the white women are now dead. I count out the money into Chuck’s hand, every dollar. When I get to a thousand, Chuck lights up. Biggest shit-eating grin you’ve ever seen.

“‘Let’s do this, Bill,’ he says.

“We go inside, he doesn’t even say hi to the Stevie Miller Band, just tells them the key of the first song and boom right into it. The kids went nuts, y’know? Chuck Berry. That’s rock and roll right there, no matter the hassle. We disposed of the three dead white women and cleaned out the Cadillac, and next time Chuck played our venue, we made sure that there was cash on hand.

“Interesting post-script: the Dead dosed Chuck around a dozen times, and the cops found him naked on Embarcadero at dawn.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, the J. Geils Band.”

A Double Negative Is A No-No

I don’t mean to be a stickler, but that poster–if read literally–advertises a concert against not-AIDS.


Bill Graham Addresses The Crowd At Live Aid

“Good morning. We welcome you on behalf of the Ethiopians.

“We’re gonna get started in just a second. We’ve got some great bands on the lineup, and we also have George Thorogood. Both Durans are here. Joe Piscopo is one of our celebrities, so who knows what crazy mishegos is gonna take place? Piscopo’s a wild card.

“Some short announcements before we get started.

“There is a blue Chevy Caprice in the parking lot with its lights on. License plate number RVA-119.

“Fuck Paul Simon.

“And finally: Philadelphia, you are a rock and roll town. Like my good friend Huey Lewis, who can also go fuck himself, says: the heart of rock and roll is in Philadelphia. We couldn’t do this show anywhere else. So, that said: please do not throw D batteries at the performers. If you want to keep throwing them at the cameramen and roadies, then go to it. But not the performers, please. If you must throw batteries at the stars, then keep it to a double-AA.

“Except Stephen Stills. You can throw car batteries at that putz for all I care. You see what he’s wearing, that putz?

“Look at him. Captain of the USS Cocaine. Putz. I’m wearing a long-sleeve button-down shirt with shorts and I still have moral standing to critique his outfit. That’s how much of a putz he is, that putz.

“Okay, so here we go. Feel free to get loose with each other and boogie. Tee-shirt concessions are open.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Lawn

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the press. Let me start off by saying ‘Fuck Paul Simon.’ Just a schmuck. A real schmuck, y’know? It’s a charity concert, we’re trying to raise money for Africans who are very hungry, and I gotta deal with calls about his hairpiece budget. I say to him: Paul, every dollar we spend on your skull is a dollar less to put in an African’s stomach. He says: no toupee, no Paul play.

“So again: Fuck Paul Simon.

“When Bob Geldof, who is a schmendrick, called Bill Graham Productions and begged us to produce Live Aid, I was honored but then I wound up screaming at him over the phone for two hours. He wasn’t thinking big. ‘Bill,’ he says to me. “I’m thinking about inviting Status Quo out for drinks.’ I say, ‘No, let’s have two simultaneous concerts on two continents.’ Geldof says, ‘Your idea is better.’ It was a transatlantic call, so it probably cost around a hundred bucks just to call an Irishman an asshole.

“And what does he do, this little pisher, this one-hit wonder mieskeit? He torpedoes me! This whole time, he torpedoes me.The Beatle he keeps, The Who he keeps, Bowie he keeps. All the good limeys. Sends me fat Ozzy and that little Phil Collins person. I didn’t ask for Phil Collins. Duran Duran? I didn’t want one Duran, but he sent both.

“The whole production, Geldof’s treating it like a competition. He calls me up, ‘I got Charles and Diana.’ He’s so excited, he’s bipping and bopping on the phone, and I just couldn’t bear to hear him so happy. Though the show was only two weeks away, I got on a plane to London so I could scream at him in person.

“On the plane ride back home, I thought about names. Royalty. They got royalty? Fuck ’em, we got royalty, too. Who, though?

“If this were next year, I could have called Refrigerator Perry, but he’s not famous yet.

“If we were doing the show in the Bay Area, I would call up Willie Mays and Joe Montana and be done with it. Montana ain’t gonna fly in Philly. I need a movie star. Stallone is perfect, but he’s out of the country. Clint! Clint Eastwood, right? Who’s bigger than Dirty Harry?

“Clint refuses to take my calls. I fly out to whatever that little beach village he rules with an iron fist is called, and the police meet me at the town line and throw me in the local jail. The charges are Conspiracy to Bother Clint and Vulgar Ethnicity.

“It’s a white little town. I stood out.

“Luckily, I was wearing my lock picks on my giant necklace right next to my Africa medallion. Just as I escaped from the Nazis, I escaped from Clint Eastwood’s goons.

“Now, your normal promoter–your Ron Delsener, your John Scher–is going to need a day or two to decompress after that experience, but I immediately made for the Hollywood Hills. Jack Nicholson. I’ll get Jack Nicholson, who is a better actor than Clint Eastwood anyway, and isn’t the tyrant of a seaside bedroom community.

“Jack refuses to take my calls. Luckily, he lives right next door to Marlon Brando, who I know from doing Apocalypse Now with him. I call the great Marlon Brando and explain my plight. Marlon won’t talk to Jack, but he will let me use the zip-line the two of them have in between their homes.

“I say, ‘Why the hell do you two have a zip-line?’ He says, ‘Girls and cocaine.’

“The great Marlon Brando.

“The plan is that Marlon will call Jack up and tell him there’s something coming. Then I zip over, and I figure I got maybe ten seconds before Jack starts shooting or calls the cops, right? Marlon agrees, and hands me a tranquilizer gun that he had handy.

“This is the part of the story where I remind you that I’ve been up for 60 hours straight at this point, and also I was abusing cocaine quite heavily with the great Marlon Brando.

“He says, ‘Just start firing away first thing. Jack’s quick, and he’s armed. He is a dangerous adversary, Bill Graham. Use your Jewish instincts.’ And before I had time to ask him what he meant by that, Brando pushes me out the window. ZZZZZZIPPP I cross the lawn twenty feet up, and I crash into Jack’s bedroom.

“There he is! I shoot him, like, seven times with the tranquilizer gun. WHAM! Right down!

“I hear laughing from Marlon’s place. It’s Marlon, but it’s also Jack! The sonofabitch is in the window with Marlon, and he’s grinning. You know, Nicholson. The grin.

“I yell over, ‘So who did I tranq?’ And they’re laughing so hard they can’t answer. It turned out to be a teenaged hooker that Jack was bored of! When he can breathe, Jack says that he’ll do the show. And then the grin, you know? Nicholson. The girl died, but I had my royalty.

“We’re also please to announce that Ashford & Simpson have been added to the lineup, and fuck Paul Simon.

Bill And Bob


Hey, Bill Graham. Whatcha doing?

“What am I doing? Working! What, does this look fun to you? Sitting here, arguing with gonifs all day long? Phone keeps ringing, one putz after another trying to steal from me. Every call is like a robbery and you wanna know what I’m doing. Unbelievable.”

Today’s an anniversary for you.



“Eh. Not as bad as Dylan died when he did his Christian bullshit.”

No, Bill. You actually died.

“And I’m telling you: still not as bad. When I booked him, he was a Jew! Shows up with a cross around his neck like a preacher, singing this dreck about Jesus. You ever some have asshole waste your time? Some jackoff thinks he’s funny, he tells you one of those stories sounds like a joke, but it just goes on and on? Like that, except with a crowd. Around an hour in, the kids realized they weren’t getting any of the hits. Got ugly. Had it not been for the strict ‘No Refunds’ policy I adopted a half-hour in, I would have been ruined.

“I go backstage after the first show. ‘Bob! You’ve blessed us,’ I tell him. Dylan’s skittish, so I’m kissing his ass. Can I get, can I do, the whole song-and-dance. He wants Jujyfruits, so I get him Jujyfruits. Gotta admit: that’s a solid candy choice. Man’s a pain-in-the-ass, but he’s got taste in candy. Bob Dylan has his candy, his bible, he’s thrilled with life.

“Meanwhile, I got a house full of miserable customers. I mean: in between the songs, which are caca, he’s haranguing people. ‘We’re all gonna burn in Hell, and this and that.’ You can’t even imagine the effect this was having on t-shirt sales. Shit night for ancillaries from the beginning: when he walked in, Bob overturned the merch table. Screaming about money changers in the temple. Still: it’s Bob Dyan. You make allowances for genius. If Stephen Stills had pulled this shit, I would have thrown him out the window.

“So I’ve made nice with Bob, he’s got his candy, he’s happy. And we’re schmoozing about this guy, that guy, and I get into what I came in there for.

“‘Bob,’ I say. ‘What about the dessert? The kids are here to hear your message. They love you, Bob. Great show. And you give them a meal, Bob. Your message is a meal. After a meal, though? A treat, a reward. You give ’em an old number. Anything you choose, a short one.’

“And then it’s quiet in the room for a good long while. I just sit there. Who knows with Dylan?

“Finally, he says something.

“‘RRmnbwaugh fmum bismny mmmm.’

“It’s Bob Dylan with a mouth full of Jujyfruit. I got no fucking idea what he’s saying. I just keep nodding. ‘Yes, Bob. Yes, Bob.’ What the hell am I agreeing to? Not a clue.

“All of a sudden, this huge grin comes across his face, and he leaps out of his chair and grabs my head! He drags me over to the shower, and would you believe that crazy motherfucker baptized me? That’s what he was saying! I figure at least we made a deal, a baptism for a a Mister Tambourine Man, something. I’ll take a baptizing for show biz. I’ve taken worse.

“Nope, bupkes. Fourteen shows, fourteen sermons. Roughest two weeks of my life, except for the part with the Nazis.”

You have the best stories, Bill Graham.


Shadowboxing With The Apocalypse Now

bobby santana bill graham

“This is a big show? Weir, you don’t know from big, you little goyische putz. Bill Graham has put on the biggest shows on the planet! If there was a room to book, and a backroom to run, and a take to skim, then Bill Graham had his shmeckle in the pie. I turned down Woodstock because it was small potatoes, and then I did Watkins Glen with only three bands and everyone paid to get in, which is much better. That festival in India where 170 million people show up? Bill Graham consults.

“But Manila was the big one. The great film director Francis Ford Coppola had cast me in Apocalypse Now, which I found to be a bore. First of all, fuck The Doors. You know that little asshole Morrison used to piss on things? Like a puma. He’d show up, go to the dressing room, piss on the couch. Never seen anything like it. And that keyboardist, the twerp. Would follow Morrison around like an apostle. He would tell me “Jim’s a poet. Jim’s a poet.” Well, the poet just pissed on the carpet again. Bullshit band.

“We’re there forever. It’s a million degrees, and a million miles from home. You ever have Filipino food? It’s great. You ever have Filipino food every day? Not so great. After a while, it’s enough already. The great film director Francis Ford Coppola is losing his mind. Martin Sheen has a heart attack. Two of the Playboy Playmates disappeared into the jungle, never to be ogled again. There was a monsoon. And a typhoon. And a cyclone. There was a hurricane, which is impossible in that hemisphere.

“Enter Brando. He was eight hundred pound of crazy in a four hundred pound sack, and spent his days not learning his lines and fucking with everyone. When Sheen came back from his heart attack, Brando would sneak up behind him and yell “Boo!” So Sheen would turn around and tell him to quit it, and Brando would punch him in the chest, hard. Which was over the line, but this is the great Marlon Brando we’re talking about here. If part of his process was assaulting cardiac patients, then so be it. Movies are about movie stars.

“Morale is low. The great director Francis Ford Coppola refuses to wear a shirt, and it’s man-titty city. Playmates keep getting eaten by tigers, everyone in this country needs to be bribed for everything, and Larry Fishburne has sunk three gunboats. There is one pay phone within a hundred miles, and you gotta win a knife fight to use it. Brando calls for me. Anybody else? Kiss my ass, you come here. Brando? I’ll shlep.

“Great big place, Buddhas everywhere. Go in the courtyard, and there’s two Buddhas on either side, ten feet tall. Sitting in the middle of the courtyard with his back to me: Brando. He’s got his head shaved, he’s wearing robes: it’s like there’s three Buddhas. He motions me to come around, and when I do, I see that he’s got one of the Playmates giving him a shlorp. And Brando goes, ‘You want a shlorp?’ I say no. ‘It’s good shlorp,’ he says, and I get to the point and ask the great Marlon Brando why I’m there.

“And he says, ‘I don’t know, Bill? Why are you here?’ And Hopper will fall for his bullshit, but I fled the Nazis, so fuck this fat asshole dragging me out to his house to watch him get shlorped. I let him have it: I’m yelling and screaming in two or three languages and Brando finally lumbers to his feet and he’s just ‘Bill.’ That’s all he said, ‘Bill.’ Like ‘Okay, I know who you are now.’ Just ‘Bill.’ I loved that.

“Not a total asshole after all, just bored. Paid for the Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power to come over and play a show. It was great: whole cast showed up, Sheen died for ten minutes. We opened it to the public, and I did well on the concessions. We sold a lotta fish balls. Turns out Filipinos don’t buy t-shirts at concerts, but I had some printed up anyway so I could give one to the great director Francis Ford Coppola. The show was a success, and Tower of Power made some very groovy sounds and brought people together and no one got eaten by tigers. While I was shooting the film, my marriage fell apart.”

“Bill, I asked how the crowd was.”

“Stoned and plentiful. Same as always.”

“All you had to say.”

Fillmore, Hear Less


Reasons There’s No Official Stream For Tonight’s Free Fillmore Show:

  • Mickey believes that livestreaming steals one’s soul.
  • Couldn’t find anyone in San Francisco tech-savvy enough to set one up.
  • There was an EMP burst.
  • They were going to, but then Bobby got in in his head that they needed to “go viral” and then he bought himself a Chewbacca mask; everyone got so annoyed that they cancelled the stream without telling him.
  • Billy only goes online for porn, so if you put him on the internet, he takes his dick out.
  • “No livestreaming” is a condition of Jeff Chimenti’s parole.
  • Is it impossible to broadcast over the internet from the Fillmore: every time it’s tried, the signal goes dead; numerous witnesses have reported hearing a spectral voice yelling, “WHAT IS THIS FERKAKTA BULLSHIT?” right before the feed went down.
  • Band wants to test out Hologram Garcia in private. (Do not make Hologram Garcia.)
  • Building is a Faraday cage.
  • Because while they’re not the Dead anymore, they’re still kinda the Dead, and therefore: bush league.

Bill Graham Intro>

bill graham fillmore closing

“Good evening. We welcome you, on behalf of the lonely weirdo.

“This is our first night in the new hall, and we hope you’ll bear with us. My staff and I have been working frantically for the past week to get the place ready, stopping only to play pickup basketball games, eat kischka from Ratners, and bribe city inspectors. I also threw many, many people out of my office while screaming at them in Yiddish, but I can do that and something else at the same time. Bill Graham invented muti-task–


“Thank you. I mean, c’mon! We’re all here to get loose and get down and get up and maybe get next to one another, but keep your feet off the seats. Does Bill Graham come to your house and fuck the ficus?

“All right, so: it is our first night here, like I said, and we think we have the kinks all worked out, but we hope you’ll bear with us. One thing, though: no poo-poo. Pee-pee all you want, but if anything denser than cotton candy gets flushed, we’re probably all going to die. We’re gonna have that worked out by the 11th, when Humble Pie is slated to appear, but until then, the barrels that we usually fill with apples will have bananas in them.

“I went back to my apartment this afternoon, take a shower, new clothes. Walking back, a kid sees me, and he’s way across the street, I don’t know how he saw me.


“He’s screaming, right?

“‘Nu?’ I yell back.


“Didn’t ask who was playing. Couldn’t care less who was playing. Just wanted to know if there was a show tonight.

“There’s a show tonight. Thank you for coming to the show.”

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