Filmore Street in San Francisco holds a significant place in the city’s music history, as it passes through the Jazz District and leads to the renowned Filmore Concert Hall. This legendary venue was established by the late music impresario Bill Graham, situated between the Filmore club and the former location of Graham’s winterland Ballroom. The spirit of Graham reverberates in the air, prompting me to engage in what some might label as graffiti. While positioned against the wall of the Goodwill store at post and Filmore, artist Wes Marx employs aerosol cans to summon the presence of rock and roll royalty.
Graham organized concerts that brought together a diverse range of artists, enticing people to attend while also contributing to the community and introducing them to new music. He revolutionized the concert industry by uniting individuals and musicians from various musical realms. Graham’s memorable legacy includes the promotion of shows at the Filmore through poster artists, a tradition that endures to this day. Marx infuses his mural of Graham, commissioned by local groups and the bill gram Memorial Foundation, with vibrant visual elements reminiscent of past lettering styles. The artwork, based on a photograph captured by Ken Fredman, encapsulates how people often described Bill Graham – as a blend of Mother Teresa and Al Capone, representing his entire life in a single picture. Among those observing Marx’s progress is David Graham, the son of the renowned promoter.
He admires the mural, considering it a remarkable masterpiece that showcases the intensity in Bill Graham’s eyes and provides a glimpse into his profound soul. Bill Graham, a Jewish Holocaust survivor whose mother fell victim to the Nazis, escaped to the United States as an orphan. He went on to transform the music industry, giving joy to countless individuals and making a home in this community. The painting pays tribute to the numerous concerts Graham organized to support and uplift the local community. As memories resurface, unexpected visitors, like Ray Charles, appear in the mural, sparking nostalgia and curiosity.
The artwork evokes a variety of emotions and elicits congratulations and praises from those who witness it. When one steps back and beholds the accomplished technique and historical significance of the Bill Graham mural, a profound sense of invigoration fills the air. This artwork serves as a homage to a music pioneer and represents an essential chapter in the storied legacy of the Filmore.
Joe Rosado Jr., reporting for NBC Bay Area News, captures the essence of Bill Graham through his exceptional work..