Graham launched the careers of countless rock & roll legends such as
the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones
August 13, 2018 [St. Petersburg, FL] — Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution opens this Saturday, August 18th at The Florida Holocaust Museum! This exhibition explores the extraordinary life of renowned music promoter Bill Graham (1931- 1991) who helped launch and promote the careers of countless rock & roll artists. Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution also traces the indomitable spirit of a man brought to the United States as an eleven-year-old Jewish refugee fleeing the Nazis, fueling a lifelong passion and advocacy for justice.
The exhibition’s opening weekend will include two major events held at The Florida Holocaust Museum.
The Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution Exhibition Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. The community is invited to celebrate the legacy of rock promoter Bill Graham with his family and friends! This program will feature a panel discussion with Radio Personality and Executive Director of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation Bonnie Simmons, Vice President of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation Rita Gentry, and Music Producer and CFO of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation Danny Scher, with additional insight about the exhibition. Bill Graham’s sons Alex and David Graham will also be in attendance.
Beginning in 1968, Bonnie Simmons served as Program Director and an announcer at KSAN radio. In this capacity she worked on countless projects together with Bill Graham’s company, Bill Graham Presents (BGP) and Bill spent many hours with Bonnie on her show. Bonnie then spent a handful of years in Los Angeles at Warner Brothers Records where she worked with Dire Straits, Rickie Lee Jones, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, and more. In the early 80s, she began to work for Bill in his management company. Then in the early 90s, Bonnie was Audio Director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. She also managed the band Cake for nine years. Bonnie has been the Executive Director of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation since 2009 and the Artist Logistics Director for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass for 17 years.
Rita Gentry began her career in the music/entertainment industry in 1971. She worked with Out of Town Tours representing great acts such as The Grateful Dead, The Sons of Champlin, The Band, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Then in 1979, her job began with Bill Graham Presents (BGP). She worked with Danny Scher who did all of the show bookings, and eventually became Bill Graham’s secretary. After Bill’s death in 1991, she went into the production area of BGP. She says, “There was no better teacher of excellence in show promotion, production and audience participation than Mr. Bill Graham.” After 20 years, she left BGP to work as Carlos Santana’s personal assistant for 13 years. Currently, she is the V.P. of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation.
Danny Scher joined Bill Graham Presents in 1975 after completing his MBA at Stanford. At Stanford he produced very successful student concerts and came to Bill’s attention. As Bill told Danny, “I had a choice. Either hire you, or kill you.” Fortunately for Danny, Bill chose the former, and Danny worked for Bill for twenty-four years. During his tenure he booked concerts, developed corporate sponsorships, and built amphitheaters, including one of the country’s most successful, Shoreline Amphitheater at Mountain View, California. He also developed festival events and the annual Fourth of July Shoreline event with the San Francisco Symphony.
Then on Sunday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m. there will be a panel discussion with Bill Graham’s sons, Alex and David Graham. This program titled Legacy and Remembrance will explore how life lessons that are conveyed by parents and grandparents have profound effect. When those patriarchs and matriarchs endured the Holocaust, those lessons and their legacy have special resonance.
The cost to attend each of these programs is $9 per person for general admission and/or free for Museum members. To attend, please call 727.820.0100 ext. 301 to reserve your space. RSVP is required.
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution is the first comprehensive retrospective about the life and career of renowned music industry impresario Bill Graham. Recognized as one of the most influential concert promoters in history, Graham launched the careers of countless rock & roll legends in the 1960s at his famed Fillmore Auditorium. He conceived rock & roll as a powerful force for supporting humanitarian causes and was instrumental in the production of milestone benefit concerts such as Live Aid (1985) and Human Rights Now! (1988). As a promoter and manager, he worked with iconic artists including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones.
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution opens to the public on August 18, 2018 and will be on display through February 10, 2019 at The Florida Holocaust Museum.
The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 5th Street S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution is organized and circulated by the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, in association with the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, and made possible by the support of Alex Graham, David Graham, and Danny Scher.
Presented locally by Bank of America, with additional support from the State of Florida
Department of Cultural Affairs and The June Baumgardner Gelbart Foundation.
About The Florida Holocaust Museum
2017 marked a monumental milestone for The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) as the Museum celebrated its 25th Anniversary. One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The FHM honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered of died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.org.
Photos and credits
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution at The Florida Holocaust Museum.
Photo credit: The Florida Holocaust Museum
Rock promoter Bill Graham onstage before the final concert at Fillmore East.
Photo credit: John Olson. Fillmore East, New York, January 1, 1970. Chromogenic print. The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.
American-Soviet Concert for Peace.
Photo credit: Ken Friedman. Izmailovo Stadium, Moscow, July 4, 1987. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of Ken Friedman.
Bill Graham relaxes at home with son Alex.
Photo credit: Marcia Sult Godinez. Marin County, CA, 1978. Gelatin silver print. Collection of David and Alex Graham.
Bill Graham gives his young son David a piggyback ride.
Photo credit: Bonnie MacLean. San Francisco, 1969. Gelatin silver print. Collection of David and Alex Graham.