Vallejo, CA Rock Promoter Bill Graham Dies In Helicopter Crash, Oct 1991

Bill Graham circa 1990.jpg Bill Graham Helicopter wreckage.jpg



Vallejo, Calif. (AP) -- BILL GRAHAM, who escaped Nazi Germany to become America's leading promoter of rock musicians and who helped develop the mass rock concert format that drew audiences totaling in the millions, was killed Friday in a helicopter crash about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco. He was 60.

GRAHAM was one of three people who died when their helicopter hit a 200-foot utility tower and crashed in a fiery explosion about 10 p.m., said officials of his company, Bill Graham Presents.

The charred remains of the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, which had been flying over marshes near Vallejo, still were tangled in the power lines Saturday. Electricity to 23,000 homes was disrupted for hours.

The other victims were the pilot, STEVE KAHN, and GRAHAM'S companion, MALISSA GOLD. They were returning to the rock impresario's home in Corte Madera after a concert, Huey Lewis and the News, which he had promoted.

For a quarter of a century, GRAHAM was a central figure in organizing, producing and marketing rock music across the nation and around the world in all formats from live concerts to records, films, videos and television shows.

He first gained fame in the 1960s presenting concerts at the Fillmore theater in San Francisco and later at its East Coast spin-off, the Fillmore East, a seedy old vaudeville theater on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Eventually he shut down the theaters but continued his business, based in San Francisco.

As the popularity of rock grew, GRAHAM pressed into the vanguard of the emerging phenomenon of rock concerts staged in large arenas, outdoor stadiums and parks.
He helped the careers of fledgling groups, and the headliners of his shows were a compendium of rock and folk music stardom: the Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, George Harrison, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers Band, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, among many others.

Salina Journal Kansas 1991-10-27