Legendary San Franciscan concert promoter Bill Graham died on this date in 1991 after his helicopter crashed following a Huey Lewis concert. A charismatic and controversial personality, Graham helped define the San Francisco music scene in the late 60′s, opened the Fillmore, East and West, was a permanent fixture at every Dead New Years show, organized The Band’s “Last Waltz” and even co-starred as “Lucky” Luciano in Warren Beatty’s Bugsy. RIP Uncle Bobo.
From The Last Waltz.
Here’s a little insight on what went down between Robbie Robertson and Levon leading up to The Last Waltz and what transpired on that historic night in 1976. Click here to read his take from 1994.
SOME TIME in September 1976 we got word that Robbie Robertson and our management wanted to put it away. Robbie had had enough, and they decided to kill The Band and go out with a bang. I thought it might be a joke, but Robertson was dead serious. In fact, they had a plan. Robbie wanted us to play a farewell show in San Francisco, where it all started for us, around Thanksgiving. He wanted everyone we’d played with along the way – from Ronnie Hawkins to Bob Dylan – to perform, but without their own musicians. We would be the back-up band for our guests. They were already lining people up: Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Allen Toussaint. It was gonna be the concert of the century, maybe the show to end the whole so-called rock era. That’s what they told me, anyway. (more…)
The Band performed their legendary farewell show at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Promoter Bill Graham provided a Thanksgiving meal for those in attendance and The Band treated their fans to a show that included more than a dozen special guests, including Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood and Neil Young. Here are some videos of the occassion taken from Martin Scorsese’s landmark concert film.
Up On Cripple Creek:
It Makes No Difference:
Neil Young’s Helpless: