Aspen Times, February 24, 2006
Tune In, Turn On
There are people in this world, some call them "boomers," others just call them old, who once rocked.
In the late 1960s and early '70s, they changed the way the world lived, loved and listened. Listened, that is, to music. If you were of that generation, the one that "won't get fooled again," the one that aspired to "give peace a chance," the one that knew and cherished the differences between a Clapton, a Page and a Beck guitar lick, then there is a website that you must visit. It is called Wolfgangsvault.com, and when you get there you'll instantly recognize it. Because it's your history.
Here's the background. Bill Graham promoted more than 30,000 concerts and events through the eponymous "Bill Graham Presents" before his death in a helicopter crash in 1991. Like few others, Graham understood the magical connection between the music, design and lifestyle of the day. He commissioned thousands of pieces of what can only be called works of art to promote his concerts and venues - ticket stubs, T-shirts, posters. If you know the difference between taking a trip via windowpane, or an orange barrel, you most certainly know this stuff.
To the consternation of his staff, he not only overprinted every order, he insisted on saving everything. The posters by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley, the photographs of every great musician of the day by the likes of Michael Zagaris and Baron Wolman, all the tickets from the Fillmores, East and West, the Boston Tea Party, and Winterland, all of the original T-shirts, Graham stashed all of it. Not only that, but also he commissioned, and of course kept, about 7,000 audio and VHS videotapes of some of the greatest performances in rock history.
Years after Bill's death, his company was acquired by an evil empire called SFX, which has monopolized the concert-promotion business, taking the art out of the game and replacing it with accounting. Knowing they had value in the basement, they sold everything to a health-care entrepreneur named Bill Sagan for a rumored $5 million to $6 million in 2002.
Sagan took the treasure to a warehouse in SOMA in San Francisco, hired folks to catalog the items (a very cool gig) and put them up for sale on, you guessed it, Wolfgangsvault.com. Wolfgang, by the way was Graham's given first name.
It's all there, the Zig-Zag man posters from a Big Brother and the Holding Company/Quicksilver Messenger Service show in '66 at the Avalon Ballroom, photos of Mick when he was a lifetime younger than his Super Bowl appearance. When you log on, you can listen to Wolfgangsvault radio, which plays unedited versions of great concert tapes.
Whether you're a boomer, or simply interested in the past, take a trip into Wolfgang's Vault.
You'll see colors.
By Paul E. Anna
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