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YRB, March 1, 2006

The origins of excess: 1969 When Rock Was Young

You youngsters don't know young, rich and beautiful for shit. Think the Strokes and Hives invented the skinny-pants-and-shaggy-hair look? Ha. Peek at Ike Turner in 1969, when the Strokes weren't a twinkle in their parents' pants. A mop-topped Turner looks more screw-you in a simple white sweatshirt than any stylist-styled Drew Barrymore dater. Or how about a circa-1969 Sly Stone. He's funkier in feathers - and far more manly - than that nose-pierced Lenny Kravitz.

That's the rub about rock and roll. It recycles itself, usually weekly, only because the past is yesterday's forgotten flavor. You see Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as bloated fuddy-duddies wailing away on nostalgia tours, not rear-limo debauchers. Before Keith Richards became a walking, mumbling skeleton, he drenched more panties than a summer thunderstorm. Lou Reed furiously sucked down cigarettes and wore little-tight leather like a threat. It is sad affairs when cloned American Idols are the hottest shit since I ate that jalapeno-packed burrito.

So bye-bye 2006: Let's take a time machine back and enroll in a little class we call, "Young, Rich and Beautiful Rock Stars 101." These fuck-you photos are stolen from the '60s and '70s, an era when snorting a hot dog - thick line while a groupie took a plaster cast of your pecker was all in a night's work. Those years may have died along with Nixon, but thanks to Wolfgang's Vault (, history is not forgotten.

Wolfgang's vault is a clearinghouse of vintage rock-and-roll memorabilia and art. It's so-named for legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham (a German immigrant born Wolfgang Grajonca). The Berlin boy became a legendary '60s rock promoter at San Francisco's Fillmore Theater, moving on to manage the Grateful Dead, as well as the Rolling Stones' first all-stadium tour. And he even, gulp, produced the American half of '85's Live Aid concert, but perhaps we'll keep that quiet.

Graham sadly died in a helicopter accident in 1991. However, his historical archive of poster art, recordings and photographs lives on - and for sale - at Wolfgang's Vault. Here we find photographs from rock-photo masters including photo godfather Jim Marshall (Woodstock's chief lensman), Baron Wolman (Rolling Stone's first picture snapper) and Joe Sia to images from consummate behind-the-scenes-man Graham, the following snaps forever prove who blazed stylish rock history - and who followed.

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