Category Archives: Anniversary

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Equivocal occupation

As a docent at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts I have the opportunity to do “Artist Tours.”

During the outdoor concert season, the Center offers a Woodstock site tour to the visiting musicians, their crew, and accompanying family and friends.

The initial response to the opportunity is that as a docent I’d have the opportunity to “rub elbows” with these well-known acts. Rarely is that so and it took me a few times to realize why.

I once observed to a crew member that what fans see as the glamour of the touring experience, seeing many places, the applause, the adulation, the well-appointed buses aren’t perhaps all they appear to be, he replied, “It’s still traveling down the interstate in a metal tube at 70 MPH.”

And that is as good a revelation of the other side as I will likely ever hear.

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club


It would seem that given the wealth that can sometime become a part of the successful musicians’ lives, the chance to be a part of many exclusive inner circles, and the requests to be met and their accompanying flattery, a person might come to believe that their success has no down side.

But the chance to accept all that is offered, the ability to purchase that which is often unavailable and to purchase excessive amounts of that thing can lead on to that infamous slippery slope to the Valley of Humiliation.

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

27 Club

And is some cases, the Valley of Death.

It is an exaggeration in the extreme to say that the life of rock and roll is a lethal one, a deadly one. Unfortunately, for too many, it was just that. And oddly, the 27 year old musician has been that.

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

No One Lives Forever

The Band sang it so well…

No one lives forever

Who would want to

But you’re too soon gone, too soon gone

Too soon gone, too soon gone

…and so did Robbie Robertson solo

Are you out there

Can you hear me

Can you see me in the dark

Follow this link to  a sad listing the too many rock musicians who died at the age of 27.  Or this Ranker article.

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Mental Health and Musicians

Over the Bridge

In 2021, Over The Bridge developed an album called, Lost Tapes of the 27 Club. Over the Bridge is an organization that aims to change the conversation about mental health in the music community while providing a compassionate environment for members to thrive.


According to the site, 71% of musicians believe they’ve experienced incidences of anxiety and panic attacks.

68% of musicians have experienced incidences of depression

Suicide attempts for music industry workers are more than double that of the general population.

Lost Tapes

The project said this about the AI produced album:

As long as there’s been popular music, musicians and crews have struggled with mental health at a rate far exceeding the general adult population. And this issue hasn’t just been ignored. It’s been romanticized, by things like the 27 Club—a group of musicians whose lives were all lost at just 27 years old.

To show the world what’s been lost to this mental health crisis, we’ve used artificial intelligence to create the album the 27 Club never had the chance to. Through this album, we’re encouraging more music industry insiders to get the mental health support they need, so they can continue making the music we all love for years to come.

Because even AI will never replace the real thing.

How did they do this?

  1. They had an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm listen to isolated hooks, rhythms, melodies, and lyrics of 27 Club musicians.
  2. Their AI algorithm learned from the music, then generated a string of all-new hooks, rhythms, melodies, and lyrics.
  3. An audio engineer took these AI-generated musical elements and composed the Lost Tapes of the 27 Club.

Gone Far Too Soon 27 Club

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Remembering and appreciating him on his birthday
January 26, 1945 – October 27, 2001
Woodstock Ventures John Roberts
Clockwise from top left: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Michael Lang, and Artie Kornfeld

E pluribus unum

Each of the four Woodstock Ventures partners contributed to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and it would be silly to say any one of them meant more than any other, but I think it is fair to say that the idea, however great, would never have gotten off the ground if not for the financial backing, patience, and endurance of John Roberts.

It may be a stereotype, but the personalities of each Woodstock Venture partner was predictable. Lang and Kornfeld, the originators and instigators of the event, are best described as hippies and idealists. Lang in particular. 

Joel Rosenman and John Roberts were the business guys in business suits whose business acumen helped navigate the venture through the choppy cultural waters of the late 1960s.

John Roberts, in particular.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts was a nephew in the Block Pharmaceutical family. Alexander Block had founded the company in 1907. In 1969 John Roberts was 24 and had recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and with friend Joel Rosenman delved into writing for TV. They wanted to pitch the idea of two young men with money looking to make a TV program. 

To get ideas, they placed a newspaper ad in the Wall Street Journal which read, that they were ”young men with unlimited capital.” Though they received thousands or responses, the TV idea died.

Instead, Roberts and Rosenman went into business with a recording studio in Manhattan, Mediasound. Since Lang and Kornfeld’s original idea was to build a recording studio in the town of Woodstock, NY, Fortune and fortuitousness brought the four together.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Woodstock Ventures

The four formed Woodstock Ventures and they would (“they” is a funny word to use here) finance the project with profits (another funny word in retrospect) from a festival with an inheritance John Roberts had just received from the Block fortune.

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair story is John’s and it is not John’s. The vision and thrust was Lang’s. John Robert’s patience, persistence, and, obviously, money made the idea a reality despite huge initial losses.

After the event, it was John’s family who strongly recommended that John buy out Lang and Kornfeld from Ventures and also to sell the movie and music rights to Warner Brothers to begin to recoup those huge losses.

It was not until a dozen years later that the still extant Woodstock Ventures made its money back. By that point, Lang had gotten back into the company and remains there, with Joel Rosenman, and the Roberts family to this day.

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts


John Roberts

John Roberts died from cancer on October 27, 2001.

Ben Sisario wrote in the New York TimesEven as a producer of Woodstock ’94, Mr. Roberts made it clear that his interests were in maintaining the peaceful legacy of Woodstock rather than in making money, said John Scher, another producer. ”John was a smart businessman,’‘ Mr. Scher said, ”but he had a lot of heart.

Thank you John

Woodstock Ventures John Roberts

Please read more in the comment below.

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

January 8, 1931 – October 25, 1991

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

 Bill Graham was born Wolodia “Wolfgang” Grajonca in Berlin, Germany. During World War II, with his father dead, the Nazi pogrom underway, and his mother gassed to death on a train to the Auschwitz concentration camp, Grajonca fortunately became part of a group of children that the International Red Cross enabled  to ultimately escape to the United States where he was placed in an upstate New York army barracks. Later, a Bronx family brought him to live with them.

Though not a citizen, he was drafted into the army and served meritoriously in the Korean War. Graham’s first experiences with entertainment came when he worked in various  New York Catskill resorts, such as Grossinger’s (Liberty), the Concord Hotel (Kiamesha Lake) and the  President Hotel (Swan Lake).

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham



Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

In the mid-1960’s, Graham was drawn to concert promotion while business manager for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a radical theater group. [November 1, 1965: Graham presented his first show, a benefit for the San Francisco Mime Troupe.]  Graham eventually found success promoting and presenting such bands as the Jefferson Airplane, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and famously the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore Auditorium (between 1966 and 1968) and later at the Fillmore West (beginning July 1968).

Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East on March 8, 1968 with  blues guitarist Albert King, folk singer-songwriter Tim Buckley, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.  The hall’s characteristic schedule was a two-show, triple-bill concert several nights a week. Graham would regularly alternate acts between his east and west coast venues. Until early 1971, bands were booked on both Friday and Saturday nights to play two shows per night at 8 pm and 11 pm, which might end at 3 AM or later.

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

Fillmore East

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

Complimenting FM radio stations (like WNEW-FM in NYC) then recent forays into progressive rock formats whose DJs exposed rock music lovers to so-called underground bands with their extended improvisational jams, the Fillmore East fed the growing appetite for live music venues and presented those bands as well as introducing upcoming groups such as Santana and Sly and the Family Stone.  

Bill Graham made the Fillmore a safe haven where kids could experience the music they wanted without getting busted.  As he wrote in a letter published in the Village Voice just before the Fillmore’s closing:  it was my sole intention to do nothing more, or less, than present the finest contemporary artists in this country, on the best stages and in the most pleasant halls.

The list of performers who played at the Fillmore East is a “Who’s Who” of rock and roll greats. A very partial list includes: the Grateful Dead (39 shows over 28 dates); Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies; John Lennon and Yoko Ono who performed with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention; the Allman Brothers (whose double-album Live at the Fillmore East is ranked 49th among Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”); Jefferson Airplane; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Joe Cocker; Miles Davis; Derek and the Dominoes; The Chambers Brothers; Mountain; Ten Years After; and  Johnny Winter.

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

Joshua Light

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham
Joshua Light Show

An integral component of each performance, the Joshua Light Show provided a psychedelic art lighting backdrop behind bands. From the summer of 1970, Joe’s Lights, made up of former members of the Joshua Light Show, became the house light show, trading duties with The Pig Light Show until the venue’s closing.

By 1971 Graham had become disenchanted with the direction of the music promotion scene and closed both Fillmores. According to Graham: The time and energy that is required for me to maintain a level of proficiency in my own work has grown so great that I have simply deprived myself of a private life. At this point I feel that I can no longer refuse myself the time, the leisure, and the privacy to which any man is rightfully entitled.  (full text of Graham’s letter)

The Fillmore East closed on June 27, 1971; 1206 nights after it opened. (NYT article)

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham

Final marquee

Bill Graham died in a helicopter crash on  October 25, 1991. (NYT article)

Wolodia Wolfgang Grajonca Bill Graham