From the first public Mime Troupe events in 1965 to his untimely death in 1991, Bill Graham set the standard for excellence in concert presentations and in doing so, redefined the art of communication for an entire generation. To honor Bill Graham, Steve Kahn and Melissa Gold, the BGP staff organized a free concert in Golden Gate Park for Sunday, November 3. Mother Nature cooperated and provided a comfortable and cloudless day as 300,000 people gathered in the Polo Field of Golden Gate Park.
Although the Grateful Dead were expected to make an appearance, the list of performers was kept well under wraps and few had any idea who exactly would be performing. It didn't seem to matter though, as the feeling that permeated the crowd was one of quiet reflection. This concert marked the end of an era, but also memorialized Bill Graham in a manner that was fitting - a free concert in the heart of where it all started. The sad circumstances aside, this was truly a celebration of Graham's life and as the poster for this event noted, it was to be a day filled with Laughter, Love and Music.
Following the memorable opening by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jerry Pompili introduces the extraordinary vocalist, Bobby McFerrin, to the stage. Following a dedication to Bill, Steve and Melissa, he begins his set with "Did I Hear You Say You Love Me," displaying his trademark, octave jumping style. With his rhythmic breathing and shifts from a high falsetto to deep bass notes, McFerrin achieves the sound of multiple voices.
He then mentions that while paying a visit to Graham's home, Bill had encouraged him to tackle the National Anthem. Not unlike the incendiary version that Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock, McFerrin delivers a Star Spangled Banner featuring a wide range of vocal pyrotechnics. To a huge ovation, he encourages the audience to celebrate and promises to return later in the day.