Bill Graham and The Who
by Regis Boff
I saw this picture of Bill Graham posted by Lisa Seckler- Rhode this morning, and it grabbed a memory from that section of my mind that is usually only aroused by drugs.
We were doing a deal with him for The Who to play San Francisco sometime in the 1970s. He was bawling that we were cheating him.
Predictably his negotiating tactics relied chiefly on shouting or screaming. When doing deals with him in the old day’s, Bill Curbishley, the Who’s manager, would be on his suite’s phone, and I would be in the bathroom on an extension. In Graham’s case, and there are pictures, we put the phone on a coffee table between us and still hear him screeching.
He stubbornly believed he was singled out for disadvantageous treatment by God himself every minute of his day. He was a formidable adversary. Few promoters dared to stand up to certain bands — the Who had become too big to lose. That said, when I started with Genesis, he did me endless favors, which he did not have to do.
The other variable was that the band (The Who) loved him, so we never really tried to fuck him. No doubt, he did them favors too, early on.
We had settled on the particulars for one show, maybe the Cow palace in San Francisco.
After the contracts were issued, Graham returned his signed copy.
His shows represented at least 100,000 tickets per performance ( most likely far more, I can’t recall), to be sold at an agreed ticket price. Graham would get his percentage cut from that.
He raised the face ticket price ( which he printed) one dollar, hoping to keep the money without telling us.
When confronted, he responded, “but you were stealing from me” — We didn’t let him keep the money but with our admiration.