Bill Graham Memorial: Laughter, Love And Music
Golden Gate Park
From the first public Mime Troupe events in 1965, to his untimely death in 1991, Bill Graham set the standard for excellence in concert presentations and in doing so, redefined the art of communication for an entire generation. To honor Bill Graham, Steve Kahn, and Melissa Gold, the BGP staff organized a free concert in Golden Gate Park for Sunday, November 3. Mother Nature cooperated and provided a comfortable and cloudless day as 300,000 people gathered in the Polo Field of Golden Gate Park.
Although the Grateful Dead were expected to make an appearance, the list of performers was kept well under wraps and few had any idea who exactly would be performing. It didn't seem to matter though, as the feeling that permeated the crowd was one of quiet reflection. It was to be a peaceful day in beautiful surroundings with plenty of friends and live music.
This concert marked the end of an era, but also memorialized Bill Graham in a manner that was fitting - a free concert in the heart of where it all started. The sad circumstances aside, this was truly a celebration of Graham's life and as the poster for this event noted, it was to be a day filled with Laughter, Love and Music.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
This memorable day began with Jerry Pompili (manager of Fillmore East and later, Winterland) taking the stage and welcoming the crowd to an impressive list of venues that Bill Graham had often promoted concerts. He ends this message by welcoming everyone to Golden Gate Park, which he refers to as "Bill's place" and states that "This is just another of his dance halls today."
Pompili then announces that the event will begin with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who are stationed on a truckbed that will circle the grounds. He encourages people to fall in behind friends and family and join in this New Orleans' style funeral procession.
The recording of these great New Orleans' musicians begins with an instrumental "Invocation" that is anything but solemn. This is celebratory music signaling the beginning of a great party. They continue with the original composition, "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now," dedicated to Graham and the friends and family gathered in the park. This up-tempo joyous music sets the tone for the day.
01 Jerry Pompili Introduction (2:19)
02 Introduction (0:36)
03 Invocation (1:35)
04 My Feet Can't Fail Me Now (3:55)
Gregory Davis - trumpet
Efrem Towns - trumpet
Kevin Harris - tenor sax, vocals
Charles Joseph - trombone, vocals
Kirk Joseph - sousaphone, vocals
Roger Lewis - baritone sax
Lionel Batiste - drums, percussion
Jenell Marshall - drums, percussion
Raymond Weber - drums
Bobby Mc Ferrin
Following the memorable opening by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jerry Pompili introduces the extraordinary vocalist, Bobby McFerrin, to the stage. Following a dedication to Bill, Steve and Melissa, he begins his set with "Did I Hear You Say You Love Me," displaying his trademark, octave jumping style. With his rhythmic breathing and shifts from a high falsetto to deep bass notes, McFerrin achieves the sound of multiple voices.
He then mentions that while paying a visit to Graham's home, Bill had encouraged him to tackle the National Anthem. Not unlike the incendiary version that Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock, McFerrin delivers a Star Spangled Banner featuring a wide range of vocal pyrotechnics. To a huge ovation, he encourages the audience to celebrate and promises to return later in the day.
01 Introduction (0:59)
02 Did I Hear You Say You Love Me (2:00)
03 Star Spangled Banner (5:34)
Chief Oren Lyons
Following a vocal performance by Bobby McFerrin, Jerry Pompili introduces Graham's friend and leader of the Onondaga Indian Tribe, Chief Oren Lyons, who delivers a heartfelt speech. He encourages the audience to look to the future and continue the philanthropic work that was always a big part of Bill Graham Presents before introducing Jackson Browne to the stage.
01 Introduction (0:21)
02 Speech (4:09)
Chief Oren Lyons introduces Jackson Browne to the stage. Browne opens with "For A Dancer," one of his most thought provoking lyrics and one that resonated with everyone experiencing a loss. Originally featured on his 1974 album, Late for the Sky, this song reflects on the death of a friend and the necessity of embracing life, faith and hope. Surely one of the most touching performances of the day.
Browne then delivers a brief monologue acknowledging Bill Graham's philanthropic work. He states that Bill had been involved in more benefit concerts than anyone and that he used his power and influence to help create social change. Without getting preachy, he simply states that Bill Graham was a "volunteer." He drives this home by closing his set with "World In Motion," a song that directly addresses humanitarian goals and encourages unity among the massive crowd assembled in the park.
01 Introduction (0:13)
02 For A Dancer (4:24)
03 Interlude (0:40)
04 World In Motion (4:15)
With the words "Time to get electric!," Jerry Pompili introduces guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani to the stage. Accompanied by the friends assembled for this special performance, Satriani opens with the appropriately titled, "Always With Me, Always With You." This mournful, yet celebratory instrumental, features Satriani's usual soaring guitar work, but here sounding more spiritual and introspective than his usual fare.
After introducing his band members, which include Randy Jackson (now well known for his seat as an American Idol judge) on bass, and drummer, Denny Carmassi, as his rhythm section, the group launches into "The Crush of Love," a pummeling instrumental workout, again featuring extraordinary guitar work from Satriani, while raising the bar for all the performers yet to come.
01 Introduction (0:07)
02 Always With Me, Always With You (3:54)
03 Band Introduction (0:37)
04 The Crush Of Love (7:36)
Joe Satriani - lead guitar
Randy Jackson - bass
Denny Carmassi - drums
Jeff Campitelli - percussion
Doug Doppler - rhythm guitar
Between incendiary sets by Joe Satriani and Santana, a brief but remarkable performance took place. Specifically for this day's performance, Michael Smuin choreographed "Ave Maria" for San Francisco Ballet dancer Evelyn Cisneros to perform during the concert. Providing the musical accompaniment for Neville Brother, Aaron Neville, was Santana keyboardist, Chester Thompson . Although the recording is lacking any visuals, Neville's performance of "Ave Maria" is nothing less than outstanding. Needless to say to those familiar with his remarkably tender voice, he sings like an angel.
01 Introduction (0:35)
02 Ave Maria (5:14)
Aaron Neville - vocals
Chester Thompson - synthesizer
Evelyn Cisneros - ballet dancing
(choreographed by Michael Smuin)
Bill Graham's love for Latin music is well documented and his association with Santana dates back to the earliest days of the band, when they were frequently featured at the Fillmores. So it comes as no surprise that the first group to be given an extended slot on the bill this day was Santana. The group delivered an extremely engaging set that included several special guests, including a return of Bobby McFerrin as well as the members of Los Lobos. While this era of Santana is not as popular as other incarnations of the group, the performance delivered on this afternoon ranks as one of the strongest and most spiritual performances of their entire career.
Kicking things off with a sizzling take on "Spirits Dancing in the Flesh," they immediately establish the tone of things to come. This is truly an incendiary performance, with Carlos penetrating leads soaring over the percolations of a tightly focused band.
They continue with the appropriately titled "Somewhere in Heaven." The piece begins with vocalist Tony Lindsay and the group providing a soulful context for Carlos' introspective guitar work, which drips with deep feeling and emotional impact. After the initial vocal sequence, the band takes off into a smoking jam that features Carlos at his best, before returning to the spiritual context with which it began.
A contemplative feeling continues into the next piece, a trilogy that opens with John Coltrane's "Peace on Earth." This segues directly into a rocking rendition of "Mother Earth," before launching into Jimi Hendrix's classic "Third Stone From the Sun." As the band brings the Hendrix section to a close, they keep the momentum going by transitioning into "Oye Coma Va." This favorite of Bill Graham includes Los Lobos' sax player, Steve Berlin, blowing a nice solo early on, before fellow bandmembers David Hildago and Cesar Rosas join in on additional guitars. This extended jam also features Bobby McFerrin returning to the stage to help out with additional vocals. This trilogy is certainly one of the early highlights of the day.
At this point, Los Lobos take over for a number. With Carlos remaining onstage to spice it up on guitar, they perform The Grateful Dead's "Bertha" together, much to the delight of the audience.
Los Lobos exit, and while Santana members return to the stage, Carlos dedicates the next number to Bill Graham. "I Love You Too Much" again features the band in a spiritual light, with lovely contemplative guitar work from Carlos, much like his most memorable moments on the classic Santana track, "Samba Pa Ti."
They conclude the set by reaching back to the earliest days of the band by performing Baba Olatungi's classic "Jingo," featuring brief solos from everyone in the group. In all, this is a thoroughly engaging performance that stands as a loving tribute to Bill Graham and a celebration of life for the multitudes assembled in the park.
01 Introduction (0:07)
02 Spirits Dancing In The Flesh (7:07)
03 Somewhere In Heaven (9:18)
04 Peace On Earth (1:00)
05 Mother Earth (1:28)
06 Third Stone From The Sun (3:37)
07 Oye Como Va (8:49)
08 Bertha (6:59)
09 I Love You Too Much (4:10)
10 Jingo (2:54)
11 Percussion Jam (6:11)
12 Jingo (reprise) (1:33)
Carlos Santana - guitar, vocals
Tony Lindsay - lead vocals
Benny Rietveld - bass, vocals
Chester Thompson - keyboards
Billy Johnson - drums
Raul Recow - conga, vocals
Carl Peraso - timbales, maracas, vocals
Armando Peraza - percussion
Bobby McFerrin - vocals
David Hidalgo - guitar, vocals
Cesar Rosas - guitar, vocals
Steve Berlin- sax
Conrad Lazano - bass
Louis Perez - drums
Following Santana's set, while crew made equipment changes onstage, comedian Robin Williams took the stage, with his usual hyperkinetic energy. Williams provides his hilarious perspective on the massive gathering taking place, as well as humorous social and political commentary on current events. He thoroughly engages the audience and frequently works Bill Graham-related content into his monologue.
After Williams brief set, Peter and Bob Barsotti, who worked directly with Bill Graham for several decades, say a few words of thanks to the people involved with making this event happen, before introducing the Mayor of San Francisco, Art Agnos. Mayor Agnos' speech is brief, acknowledging Bill Graham's role as an advisor to the city, before turning the microphone back over to Jerry Pompili, who introduces the next band, Journey, to the stage.
01 Introduction (0:30)
02 Robin Williams (11:50)
Journey played its debut gig for Bill Graham at Winterland on the last day of 1973. For this special event, eighteen years later, members Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain reunited to perform before the massive San Francisco crowd assembled in the park.
They open with "Faithfully," one of their most memorable songs. The sparseness of the instrumentation (just piano and electric guitar) showcases the lyrics, which take on added poignancy in the light of Bill Graham's passing. Schon's lovely guitar work at the end provides a bridge into a brief "Lonely Road Without You" sequence that segues directly into their biggest hit, "Lights." This familiar song serves as both an homage to Graham as well as the city of San Francisco.
01 Introduction (0:40)
02 Faithfully (4:08)
03 Lonely Road Without You (1:11)
04 Lights (3:29)
Steve Perry - vocals
Neal Schon -guitar
Jonathan Cain - keyboards
Singer-songwriter, Tracy Chapman, whose strong convictions are relayed in the lyrics of both songs in this set, delivers one of the most touching performances of this concert. Her choice of "All That You Have Is Your Soul" certainly reflected the feelings of many, and her a cappella follow-up of "Where the Soul Never Dies" was both inspiring and comforting to those saddened by the events surrounding this day.
01 Introduction (0:22)
02 All That You Have Is Your Soul (4:59)
03 Where The Soul Never Dies (2:35)
Crosby Stills Nash & Young
A rousing welcome greeted the second extended set of the day, which brought together Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Rarely a polished band onstage, this set is more ragged than usual, but to some degree that is part of the charm of this impromptu performance. There is no rhythm section here; just the four musicians and their distinctive voices. Other than occasional electric guitar work from Stills and Young, the set is instrumentally an acoustic affair, utilizing only guitars and harmonica.
They begin with Nash's anthemic "Teach Your Children," engaging the audience to sing along. Next up is Stills' "Love the One You're With," in a rare acoustic arrangement. The melancholy harmonica intro to Neil Young's "Long May You Run" and the relaxed groove he soon creates on this song is one of the highlights of their set. The lyric and the inherent sadness in Young's vocal seems to resonate and reflect on the day.
Crosby's "Long Time Gone" features some interesting electric lead guitar work from Stills, but ultimately suffers from the lack of rhythm section and Crosby's shouting, as opposed to singing, the vocal. "Southern Cross" fares slightly better, but again it is Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" that brings out the most thoughtful and harmonious interplay.
Recognizing this, they deliver another engaging performance. The vocals are now stronger and the extended jam treatment given to "Wooden Ships" lends itself to some nice interplay between Stills and Young, with Crosby's unique rhythm guitar propelling things along for nearly ten minutes.
They close their set with Neil Young's "Ohio;" a strange choice indeed! This, possibly to Neil's delight, is ragged beyond belief, complete with out-of-tune guitars and extremely ragged vocals. Nonetheless, the audience seems to enjoy it and is soon repeatedly singing "four dead in Ohio," as the group exits the stage.
Following a few brief announcements from Jerry Pompili, he introduces Wavy Gravy, who engages the audience to do their part in cleaning up the park. He ends his brief speech, with "OK. Let's Party!" anticipating the next band to take the stage: the Grateful Dead.
01 Introduction (0:56)
02 Teach Your Children (3:42)
03 Love The One You're With (5:07)
04 Long May You Run (4:45)
05 Long Time Gone (6:09)
06 Southern Cross (4:55)
07 Only Love Can Break Your Heart (3:27)
08 Wooden Ships (9:50)
09 Ohio (4:35)
10 Announcements - Introduction (0:56)
11 Wavy Gravy (1:18)
Grateful Dead (& John Fogerty)
The death of Bill Graham was an emotional blow to many Bay Area musicians and the Grateful Dead were affected more than most, having had a close relationship with the man that spanned three decades. This was readily apparent in the Oakland run of shows they had just completed, where the intensity level was a notch above the usual 1991 fare. In a show of local solidarity, the Oakland shows also featured several guests joining the band onstage, including Carlos Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist, Gary Duncan and Ken Kesey, who eulogized Graham during an improvisational sequence on the final night of the run.
Prior to the Grateful Dead set commencing this day, Jerry Pompili introduced Bill's son David to the stage. David proceeded to read a condolence telegram sent by Mick Jagger. Among other things, he summed up what many were feeling that day when he read the words "I feel great sadness in his passing, but great joy in his memory." He then introduces the Grateful Dead.
It had been quite some time, 16 years in fact, since the Dead had performed in Golden Gate Park, so when the band took the stage, expectations were high for something special to occur.
The set kicked off with Bob Weir's "Hell in a Bucket," to warm things up. An unusual choice to open, but the crowd embraced it and were up dancing right away. This reaction inspired the band and they followed this with one of their all-time psychedelic crowd pleasers, "China Cat Sunflower" which segued into "I Know You Rider." The transitional jam between the two was filled with fire and featured focused interplay between the front line of Garcia, Lesh, and Weir.
Blues Traveler's extraordinarily gifted harmonica player and frontman, John Popper, was the first special guest to join in, with his bluesy harp adding considerably to a strong rendition of "Wang Dang Doodle."
In the middle of the set by the Grateful Dead, the final full set of the day, the audience was surprised to see Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty take the stage. His showcase set, which featured four CCR classics backed by The Dead, should have been one of the peak musical moments of this memorable day. His set unquestionably delighted the audience and the band had some fun backing him on such classic hits as "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Proud Mary," but, unfortunately, his guitar was horribly out of tune and turned way down in the mix, reducing his set to less than it could have been. His distinctive vocals, however, sounded great and the joy of hearing Garcia noodle around on these particular songs was still a lot of fun for all concerned.
After a special showcase fronted by John Fogerty (which can be heard elsewhere on this site), the band gets back to business and it's here that they give it their all. Beginning with a strong rendition of "Truckin," they begin to truly hit their stride. A nice up-tempo jam ensues following the verses and they take off into a nice improvisation. At approximately the eight minute mark, the band begins rhythmically hinting at "The Other One" which they tear into a few minutes later. Although not as exploratory as this piece could be, there is some fine jamming nonetheless and this eventually eases into a remarkably strong version of "Wharf Rat." This song was often very slow during the past decade, but here they take it at a similar tempo as the memorable released take from 20 years prior. It's a fine performance with beautiful guitar work from Garcia, packed with emotion. This sequence is the pinnacle of their performance this day.
At the close of "Wharf Rat," the band fumbles a bit as Weir leads them into the coda of "Sugar Magnolia," AKA "Sunshine Daydream" to end the set. This unusual segue actually had a unique purpose, as the debut show of the Oakland run that proceeded this performance opened with "Sugar Magnolia," but did not include the "Sunshine Daydream" coda, thus its inclusion here served to sandwich the entire previous week between the two parts of this song.
When the band returns for an encore, Neil Young is among them. He says to the audience, "We got a letter here from Bob. It's too big to read so we're gonna have to play and sing it for you." He then leads the group through Dylan's "Forever Young," with Graham Nash and Kris Kristofferson
lending a hand on background vocals. It's a poignant performance that was a brilliant choice to feature near the end of the day's festivities. The Dead close things off with their own anthem of survival, "Touch of Grey," with its message of "we will get by."
01 Introduction (1:06)
02 Hell In A Bucket (6:02)
03 China Cat Sunflower (6:00)
04 I KNow You Rider (5:38)
05 Wang Dang Doodle (5:44)
06 Born In The Bayou (4:06)
07 Green River (3:11)
08 Bad Moon Rising (2:34)
09 Proud Mary (3:39)
10 Truckin' (8:09)
11 The Other One (7:54)
12 Wharf Rat (8:24)
13 Sunshine Daydream (4:41)
14 Forever Young (6:48)
15 Touch Of Grey (7:44)
Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals
Bob Wier - rhythm guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
Vince Welnick - keyboards, vocals
Bill Kruetzman - drums
Mickey Hart - drums
John Fogerty - vocals guitar
John Popper - harmonica
Neil Young - vocals, guitar
Graham Nash - backing vocals
Kris Kristofferson - backing vocals
Joan Baez - Graham Nash - Kris Kristofferson
After a remarkable set by the Grateful Dead to end a remarkable day, there was one more brief performance, as Joan Baez, flanked by Graham Nash and Kris Kristofferson, took the stage. She leads the crowd through a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace" as a final statement on all that had transpired.
Jerry Pompili and Wavy Gravy thank everyone and provide a few brief closing announcements before the day ends with "Greensleeves" playing over the P.A. system, just like countless Fillmore and Winterland shows from decades ago.
01 Amazing Grace (4:00)
02 Closing Announcements (2:23)