Bill changed the way rock evolved. Without him, I would not be here. His Fillmore ballroom promotions provided a model for halls around the world in which audiences would sit, listen and applaud, as well as scream or dance. Rock became music in that process. It was not an easy progression to make, and when we first went to San Francisco to play the Fillmore in '67, right after our Monterey Pop show, we argued with Bill about the way we wanted to perform and the equipment we wished to use. He proved to be right. With good-quality, cinema- like sound systems, decent conditions for the audience and a four-hour concert length (during which we appeared twice for about an hour each time), we found we could really penetrate the audience. Our gimmicksUnion jack flag jackets, destruction displays and large-scale movements became secondary to our music. We grew from that day artistically, and we started to earn more money.
I once saw Bill take a man who had stolen into our show at the Fillmore East in '69 back to his point of entry, personally escort him out. The man had broken through a roof light on the seventh floor backstage. As he pushed him up through the broken window back onto the roof high above the busy street, he said, "Come to the front door like everyone else and I might let you in for free, you mad motherfucker." He turned to me and said, "He's crazy to come over the roof but discriminating that should be rewarded."
© 2010 Bill Graham Memorial Foundation