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. It was to be a peaceful day in beautiful surroundings with plenty of friends and live music.
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.
This memorable day began with Jerry Pompili (manager of Fillmore East and later, Winterland) taking the stage and welcoming the crowd to an impressive list of venues that Bill Graham had often promoted concerts. He ends this message by welcoming everyone to Golden Gate Park, which he refers to as "Bill's place" and states that "This is just another of his dance halls today."
Pompili then announces that the event will begin with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who are stationed on a truckbed that will circle the grounds. He encourages people to fall in behind friends and family and join in this New Orleans' style funeral procession.
The recording of these great New Orleans' musicians begins with an instrumental "Invocation" that is anything but solemn. This is celebratory music signaling the beginning of a great party. They continue with the original composition, "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now," dedicated to Graham and the friends and family gathered in the park. This up-tempo joyous music sets the tone for the day.