Woodstock Bill Chelf

Woodstock Bill Chelf

 “We had one rehearsal and it really wasn’t enough. I didn’t think it would be a big deal anyway. I’m trying to remember if there’s been concerts before that with that many people, I don’t know if there had been.”

Featured image and above quote  is  from a brief  2019 WBKO News broadcast… https://www.wbko.com/content/news/Bowling-Green-man-remembers-playing-at-Woodstock-550437841.html

Bill Chelf played keyboards with Tim Hardin at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. It is interesting to me not because Hardin had a keyboardist, but because Hardin had six other people in his band besides himself. If you are familiar with Hardin’s work , you already know that it is beautifully simple and hardly needs accompaniment.

In any case, Bill Chelf, like most Woodstock performers has had an interesting path.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


In the above referenced WBKO News broadcast, Chelf says that he didn’t realize how big the Fair would be. Like many covering the Woodstock event, the name and the place were confusing. There is a town in Ulster County, NY called Woodstock and it is the inspiration for the name of the Fair, but it took place in Bethel, NY.

Woodstock Bill Chelf

Kaleidoscopic Career

The  THIS Bill Chelf google site had this to say: With a kaleidoscopic career spanning over fifty years, he’s played churches to honky tonks.   Bill Chelf (THIS) played Woodstock (’69) and Carnegie Hall with singer/ songwriter Tim Hardin. Recording sessions in New York and Nashville  encompassed a wide cross section of bands and singers. An album,”Teachers”, was made with jazz giant James Moody. A year was spent playing with Charlie Daniels. A somewhat different venue included performing and recording with prominent New York poet Barry Wallenstein.

Ten years were spent in Bermuda’s major resort hotels. With the Ghandi Burgess Orchestra Bill backed internationally renowned entertainers such as Gordon McCrae, Helen O’Connell, Helen Forrest, Frieda Payne, Johnny Desmond, Don Cornell, Julius LaRosa, the Drifters and more. Lately, Bill has been at sea performing extensively with the Norwegian and Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines, singing and playing with showbands, as a single and also with his trio.

His quartet, Jazz & Jam On Whole Wheat, performed for over 13 years at Windows On The Cumberland in the historic Market Street District of Nashville,TN. In 1998 he joined Henry Cuesta and Barney Liddell of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra along with remaining members of the Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Harry James orchestras for a U.S. tour billed as “The Battle of the Big Bands”.

While living in Rochester, MN, Bill performed with the Diamonds, the Shirelles, the Turkey River All Stars, numerous jazz, blues and country bands and his own quartet. For two years running he was featured at the Great River Jazz Festival in LaCrosse,WI.  He played New Year’s Eve 2004 and also in 2005 with the Guy Lombardo Orchestra.

Bill studied at seven universities, including the Berklee School of Music and the  Boston Conservatory and has developed a comprehensive method of commercial music instruction for students interested in learning jazz, blues and pop piano.

Bill also produces THIS_hypnotic-ambient-space music.

His home is now Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


Woodstock Bill Chelf


Soundiron website:  added this:  An album,”The Teachers”, was made with jazz giant James Moody in New York. A year was spent playing with Charlie Daniels in Nashville. Ten years were spent in Bermuda’s major resort hotels, most notably with the Ghandi Burgess Orchestra. Lately, Bill has been at sea performing extensively with the Norwegian and Royal Carribbean Cruise Lines. Bill also produces THIS_hypnotic-ambient-space music. His work often includes Soundiron instruments. He has this to say about Emotional Piano, “this instrument sings_with it I can just relax, listen and play”. CD’s and MP3’s can be accessed from his website His home is now Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Woodstock Bill Chelf


If anyone has any additional information please comment and I’ll try to add it.


Woodstock Bill Chelf


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Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Miles Dewey Davis III was born on May 26, 1926 in Alton, Illinois and raised in East St Louis.

He became a jazz trumpeter, a bandleader, and a composer, and is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music.

In 1955 and 1957 he was voted Best Trumpeter in the Down Beat Readers’ Poll. 

He was nominated for 32 Grammy Awards and won 8, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Oh yea, he was an African American.

August 25, 1959

On August 17, 1959 Columbia Records had released his Kind of Blue album. Kind of Blue is regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time.

A week later, on August 25, Davis had just finished a set recording an Armed Forces Day broadcast for Voice of America. at the famous Birdland  in New York City. He’d been with Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane,  Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Ray Barrett.

Around midnight and before the next set, he went outside to get a taxi for a friend and then had a cigarette.

A cop–white–came along and told Davis to move along.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

That’s my name up there

From the boatagainstthecurrent.blogspot.com site:

Move on, what for?” Davis asked. “I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis.

The officer repeated his command, then decided to make an arrest when Davis gave him a hard stare. The cop claimed that Davis pulled away, then tried to grab his nightstick; Davis, who’d taken boxing lessons, said he was moving forward to cushion the force of any blow that might come.

One of three detectives passing by saw the cop falling forward, then rushed toward the musician, pounding him repeatedly on the head with his nightstick.

The beating occurred in a terrible moment in New York, when a deeply racist police force was bringing to the surface long-simmering anger among African-Americans. Not long before, the arrest of a drunken woman in Harlem had led to a riot that required the intervention of boxer Sugar Ray Robinson to quell.

This time, with more than 200 people yelling for the cops to stop beating Davis, the potential for trouble seemed just as great. Hauled down to the 54th Street precinct headquarters, the musician was, he said later, constantly provoked by cops, then booked for disorderly conduct and assaulting an officer. A doctor from St. Clare’s Hospital put five stitches in his scalp.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

In His Own Words

From Davis’s autobiography:

I had just finished doing an Armed Forces Day broadcast, you know, Voice of America and all that bullshit. I had just walked this pretty white girl named Judy out to get a cab. She got in the cab, and I’m standing there in front of Birdland wringing wet because it’s a hot, steaming, muggy night in August.

This white policeman comes up to me and tells me to move on. I said, “Move on, for what? I’m working downstairs. That’s my name up there, Miles Davis,” and I pointed to my name on the marquee all up in lights.

He said, “I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.”

I just looked at his face real straight and hard, and I didn’t move. Then he said, “You’re under arrest!” He reached for his handcuffs, but he was stepping back…I kind of leaned in closer because I wasn’t going to give him no distance so he could hit me on the head…A crowd had gathered all of a sudden from out of nowhere, and this white detective runs in and BAM! hits me on the head. I never saw him coming. Blood was running down the khaki suit I had on.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten

Media view

The NY Times reported the following day:
Resting Miles Davis BeatenOn August 27 it reported:

It was more than a year later that justice was finally served:

Note well that Gerald Kilduff, the arresting officer, “may well have been guilty of misguided zeal and not a deliberate violations of law, in placing the defendant under arrest for disorderly conduct , a charge later dismissed in the Magistrate’s Court.”

That’s about all the “justice” a innocent black person could get.

Resting Miles Davis Beaten
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Bassist Larry Graham

Bassist Larry Graham

Born ‎August 14, 1946

“I’m gonna add some bottom… so that the dancers just can’t hide!”

Screen grab of Graham from a 2012 concert, Bataclan, Paris

None of us had ever done anything even close to Woodstock. Then, all of a sudden, we had the attention of the world. If you were part of that, it just turned everything around.”

So said bassist Larry Graham in a 2014 interview with George Varga in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Beaumont, Texas

Larry Graham was born August 14, 1946 in Beaumont, Texas.  From an article in The Watchtower: I was born into a musical family…, my mother’s only son. She was a pianist with the church choir, and my father was a jazz guitarist. Soon afterward my family moved to Oakland, California, where I started tap dancing at the age of five. Two years later, I learned the piano under the guidance of my grandmother, who cared for me in those early years.

From the Varga interview:  “My biggest influence was actually my mother’s left hand. Because, before I went to bass, I was playing guitar. And when she would solo, I would play bass lines on my guitar. And when I would solo, she’d play bass lines on piano with her left hand. That’s the way she played anyway, before I started playing with her.  So when I started playing with her, I was influenced by her left-hand bass lines.”

Bassist Larry Graham


Bassist Larry Graham
Graham is in the back in yellow

His breakout success was with Sly and the Family Stone (1966 – 1972).

Albums with Sly and the Family Stone

  • 1967: A Whole New Thing
  • 1968: Dance to the Music
  • 1968: Life
  • 1969: Stand!
  • 1971: There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 1973: Fresh
Bassist Larry Graham

Bass Technique

From that same interview: “By slapping the strings and expertly plucking and popping them with his fingers, he transformed the electric bass, making it as prominent as a guitar and dramatically increasing its rhythmic intensity. By dong so, he laid the foundation for several subsequent generations of bassists, including everyone from Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten and San Diego’s Nathan East to Les Claypool of Primus, Level 42’s and Mr. Big’s Billy Sheehan.”

Bassist Larry Graham


In 1973, he met his future wife Tina. Tina’s mom was a Jehovah Witness and asked Tina to be present at her baptism in the Oakland Coliseum. Graham attended and says he’d never seen anything like the gathering before.

He and Tina began Bible study and visited various Jehovah Witness congregations while on tour. He and Tina were baptized at the district convention in Oakland in July 1975.

Graham would later introduce the religion to Prince. He became a Jehovah’s Witness later in life, and according to Graham, that helped shape Prince’s music as well as his lifestyle.

Graham said that Prince would knock on doors, talk with visitors at his studio-compound Paisley Park in suburban Minneapolis and even share his faith with small groups after a show,

“That brought him joy. That brought him real happiness,” Graham said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Graham Central Station

After Sly [from the QG Enterprise page]: [Graham]…went on to produce a Funk band called “Hot Chocolate”, which he eventually joined and renamed “Graham Central Station”. The original lineup included guitarist David “Dynamite” Vega, organist Robert “Butch” Sam, keyboardist Hershall “Happiness” Kennedy, vocalist/percussionist Patryce “Choc’let” Banks, and drummer Willie “Wild” Sparks. The group used the funk foundation that Graham had established with “Sly and the Family Stone” and sweetened it with various layers of soul, blues and other styles – a magical combination that scored the band a Grammy nomination in 1974 for Best New Artist. Graham Central Station released a string of seven albums throughout the 70’s. Their debut album, a self-titled effort released in 1974, proved highly successful, launching a minor pop hit with “Can You Handle It“. 

He reformed Graham Central Station in the early 1990s and performed with the band for several years. Graham and Graham Central Station performed internationally with a world tour in 2010 and the “Funk Around The World” international tour in 2011.

Graham Central Station albums

  • Graham Central Station (Warner Bros., 1974)
  • Release Yourself (Warner Bros., 1974)
  • Ain’t No ‘Bout-A-Doubt It (Warner Bros., 1975)
  • Mirror (Warner Bros., 1976)
  • Now Do U Wanta Dance (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Star Walk (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • Live in Japan (1992)
  • Live in London (1996)
  • Back by Popular Demand (1998)
  • The Best of Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Vol. 1 (Warner Bros., 1996)
  • Raise Up (2012)
Bassist Larry Graham


In 1998, he recorded a solo album under the name Graham Central Station, GCS 2000. It was a collaboration between Larry Graham and Prince.

While Graham wrote all the songs, except one co-written by Prince, the album was co-arranged and co-produced by Prince, and most of the instruments and vocals were recorded by both Graham and Prince. Graham also played bass on tours with Prince from 1997 to 2000. He appeared in Prince’s 1998 VHS Beautiful Strange and 1999 DVD Rave Un2 the Year 2000.

When Prince died in 2016, Minnetonka, Minnesota’s Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall held a memorial service for him – “Brother Nelson” as his fellow congregants knew him – Sunday at the church where he worshiped.

At the service, Graham spoke about Prince and their shared faith. [RS article]

Bassist Larry Graham


All Music has a very long list of his credits. Among the names (in addition to Prince, Sly, and Graham Central are:  Betty Davis (the second ex-wife of jazz legend Miles Davis), George Tyson, the Oak Ridge Boys. Aretha Franklin, Stanley Clarke, George Benson, Stanley Jordan, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Mahalia Jackson, Frankie Lanine, Eddie Murphy, Santana, Chaka Khan, Luther Allison, Government Mule, Billy Preston, Shania Twain,  Kanye West, as well as many many others.

Bassist Larry Graham


Graham recorded five solo albums and had several solo hits on the R&B charts. His biggest hit was “One in a Million You”, a crossover hit, which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.

Solo albums [all Warner Bros. releases]

  • 1980: One in a Million You
  • 1981: Just Be My Lady
  • 1982: Sooner or Later
  • 1983: Victory
  • 1985: Fired Up
Bassist Larry Graham

Hall of Fame

A 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Sly & The Family Stone

Bassist Larry Graham

Check out this live concert. Amazing energy!

Bassist Larry Graham
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