Bill Graham


" ...the use, and the abuse of power! That's what rock 'n' roll is. The use and the abuse of power."

    They did it. They pulled it off. A lightning strike operation with surprise as its main strength. Quick in; quick out. Too fast to get nailed. The Stones played Sir Morgan's Cove without incident, despite the newspaper articles published in New York City the next day. 
    "They told me to write a riot story, so I wrote a riot story." Quote, unquote, from a well-paid reporter working for a major New York City daily newspaper. 
    But there was no riot. None at all. The Stones had surprised, played, and escaped. Seen only by a few. Only as many as required to testify to their existence, in the flesh, as real creatures. 
    Real fans, these witnesses. No press, no TV, no radio, no freelancers. No nothing, only fans. "Press aside, please. Yes, all press aside. Please, gentlemen. Gentlemen, this is a Police Line. Isn't it, Sergeant O'Leary? Notice Sergeant O'Leary's nodding his head. That means 'Yes.' This is a Police Line. You're press. You have to stay over there. Me here, you there. 
    "Who am I? I'll tell you who the hell I am. I'm Bill Graham. Now you get your asses behind that line, or this man with the nightstick is going to put you there." 
    "Bill," I said to him the next day, "let me tell you, you had me scared last night. Never seen that side to your personality before." 
    "Gil," Bill Graham said, "you're a bright man. You've been to school and all, so I can take some things for granted, right?" 
    "Try me, Bill," I said laughing. 
    "All right, Gil. Rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is the science of the use, and the abuse, of power." Bill Graham slammed his right fist into his left hand — BAM! — and fastened his eyes upon me, staring as though through a wall. 
    " ...the use, and the abuse of power! That's what rock 'n' roll is. The use and the abuse of power." 
    BAM! Bill pounded his fist into his hand again, almost as a challenge to me as adversary. 
    "Bill, I think I know what you mean. The use and the abuse of power." 
    "That's it," Bill Graham said, eyes still blazing. 
    "Follow me for a second, Gil. Me. I've had my successes, but lately, maybe not so much happening, if you know what I mean. They'd walk by me in the streets. Even people I knew. 'Oh, yeah, that's Bill Graham. Ho-hum. What's he done lately? Ho-hum.' Get it, Gil?" 
    "Do I ever, Bill. I know what you mean." 
    "And then, once the word of this gig is out — that I own the Stones' tour for the U.S., all of a sudden it's 'Hey, Bill, ba-by!! Knew you still had it, Bill. Hey, my man, you're a winner. A winner, Bill. That's what you are, Bill. You're a winner!' 
    "Rock 'n' roll. It's the science of the use and the abuse of that power. What d'ya think about that?" 
    "Bill, you're right. You're absolutely correct." 
    "Like, this mess in Boston. Whether or not the band is going to play one night, or two nights, and where is the band going to play? Nobody knows anything, right?" 
    "Right, Bill." 
    "So, follow me now. I'm in the Mayor's office, see, and I'm looking for two nights back-to-back at the Orpheum Theater, Saturday and Sunday at the end of this week. The fact of the matter is, Gil, I never did like that back-to-back idea. Personally, I never liked it at all. So the Mayor, he'll yank either the permit for Saturday, or Sunday, or maybe even both, and propose that we do it on the steps of his office instead, outdoors. Power, Gil. The abuse of power. So? BAM! That's when we walk. What do we do? We hit 'em with another surprise club date Saturday night. Not a concert, Gil. Get it? Never liked that back-to-back thing anyhow. Always gave me the creeps. A club date, instead." 
    BAM! Bill's fist slammed into his left hand, once again, and his eyes were blazing at me as never before. 
    "You've got a phone call, Bill. Here. Take it here. Sit right here." 
    "Yeah. Okay, Gil. Thanks." 
    Bill Graham began speaking into the telephone. 
    "Listen," he said. "No, shut up! Shut up. I'm talking. I thought we had that straight. If that decision's going to be made, I'm the one that's going to make it. Is that understood? 
    "Well, it damned well better be. 
    "No, I don't give a damn. If that question comes up again, you call me. 
    "Well, keep on trying. The phones here have been busy. 
    "I thought I said we weren't going to discuss that. That's my decision. You tell 'em that. 
    "All right. This has gone on for long enough. Area code 617. Number 867-7662. Call me when there's something for me to decide. Me. 
    "All right. Yeah. Guh-bye." 




 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.