Recently I've been thinking about past concerts I've seen--not just because of the passing of Dave Brubeck and the fact that I missed Bruce Springsteen in Glendale a couple of nights ago, but for various reasons. I've considered trying to make a list of all the concerts I've been to, but at this stage of my life, I'm sure I couldn't remember them all. There were plenty of memorable ones--the Who's first US tour, and their first last US tour; the Rolling Stones and Billy Preston in Germany, the Beach Boys at an antiwar demonstration in Washington DC, the Greg Kihn Band at the Vaillancourt Fountain in San Francisco... and so many more.
One that springs immediately to mind is the SNACK Concert that Bill Graham threw at Kezar Stadium in 1975. SNACK stood for Students Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks, and the concert's purpose was to raise money to help San Francisco schools provide just those things. Bill asked a few of his friends to show up and play some music, and the result was one of the most amazing rock and roll single-day events ever. Here's the list of performers we saw that day:
Tower of Power
Graham Central Station
The Doobie Brothers
Grateful Dead (officially "Jerry Garcia and Friends")
Neil Young+Bob Dylan+The Band
handbill courtesy of Wolfgang's Vault
Willie Mays, Jesse Owens, Francis Ford Coppola, and Marlon Brando made appearances, too, as did other folks. And Bill, of course, was on hand.
Dylan and The Band weren't announced, they just showed up to play with Neil, and a great roar went up from the crowd when they stepped on stage and recognition sank in.
Here's a piece from the SF Chronicle with some pictures from the event, along with a contemporary article by the great Chronicle critic John Wasserman, and a short piece from equally great (if not greater) columnist Herb Caen. These two guys did much to make the Chronicle of the 1970s the best, most readable newspaper in the country. It's sad that they're no longer with us, but at least their writings live on.
As does the music of the folks who came to play for free that day, to help the kids.
Want to listen to some of those performances? They're preserved at Wolfgang's Vault.
photo courtesy of the Bill Graham Foundation