YRB, July 1, 2006
CATCH A FIRE
The late Joe Sia captured the images of reggae like no other
The city of San Francisco is famous for many things- cable cars, Rice-a-Roni, Castro, the Golden Gate, Chinatown, Barry Bonds and hippies, to name a few. But what you may not know is that in the shadows of PacBell, er...SBC, I mean AT&T Park, there stands a 30,000 square foot warehouse filled with just under 30 million unique relics from a time when screaming guitar riffs and steady-rolling bass lines were coupled with bell bottoms and white-man Afros. It was during this historic era that (Wolfgang) Bill Graham, an entrepreneurial German immigrant living the American dream, produced thousands of legendary concerts from 1967-1991 � with artists ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin to the Allman Brothers � at his famed Fillmore East and Fillmore West venues.
Applying every ounce of his foresight, Graham religiously hired photographers, and often film crews, to document hundreds of thousands of hours of musical gold (over 8,000 performances), retaining sole ownership of all the resulting photographs, slides, sound recordings and motion pictures. Without specific intent, Graham's collection (along with his thousands of concert posters, t-shirts, buttons, stickers, programs, backstage passes and other original artworks) would come to form one of the largest and most important collections of rock & roll memorabilia in the world.
A few years ago, a group headed by Bill Sagan purchased the entire collection along with the catalogues of several A-list photographers, and Graham's trove of goodies officially became known as Wolfgang's Vault. 'The Vault' catalogued the archives piece by piece and arranged every single item within an easy to navigate website (www.wolfgangsvault.com), thereby bringing some of the grooviest rock merchandise on the planet back to life. In addition to serving as a store, the site inadvertently functions as a valuable resource to music scholars, historians and die-hard fans alike.
It's easy to spend hours clicking around The Vault, checking out the musical paraphernalia and audio files, but perhaps the best thing the site offers is a tour of the massive collection of photography shot by some of the biggest names in the game, including Baron Wolman, Jim Marshall, Michael Zagaris and the late Joe Sia, whose images of reggae superstars Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh are featured.
Wolfgang's Vault is bursting with iconic material and is well worth a browse, whether you're decorating your parents' basement or the corporate boardroom. In the words of Graham himself, "It's all about the music."
By Jonny Mundo
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