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Bill Graham Concert / The Top Local Story Took Place in Moscow
by Joel Selvin
San Francisco Chronicle (pre-1997 Fulltext); San Francisco, Calif.; Dec 27, 1987

THE BIG LOCAL story of the year took place in Moscow, where producer Bill Graham produced a rock concert/peace demonstration, with the encouragement and support of Kremlin officials, featuring Santana, the reunited Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and a handful of Soviet musicians. Although the event received scant publicity in both America and the Soviet Union, the effect on musicians and audience alike was immeasurable. After capping the concert with all hands onstage singing "Give Peace a Chance," the brotherhood of man and peace on Earth never seemed less like empty cliches.

Dopes of the year goes to the Golden Gate Bridge directors, who rejected Graham's plan to stage a concert with Huey Lewis and the News and the Grateful Dead to celebrate the span's 50th anniversary.

The Really Big Shows

Madonna at Shoreline (ho-hum) . . . Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead at the Oakland ballpark (ditto) . . . U2 at the Cow Palace in April and, again, at the baseball stadium in November, although the group's free "Save the Yuppies" concert at Vaillancourt Fountain was the most fun, spray-painting brouhaha notwithstanding . . . The transcendent evening of "Graceland" music by Paul Simon at Berkeley Community Theater (Peter Gabriel watched from the front rows) . . . Los Lobos at the Warfield could have been the single finest performance of the year.

Other Good Shows

Tom Waits at the Warfield . . . Ry Cooder at Wolfgang's . . . Echo and the Bunnymen, Gene Loves Jezabel and New Order at the Greek Theater . . . Hank Ballard and the Midnighters at the Last Day Saloon . . . Crowded House at Wolfgang's . . . James Brown at the Venetian Room . . . Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick at Concord Pavilion . . . K.D. Laing at the Great American Music Hall . . . Cyndi Lauper at Henry J. Kaiser . . . Suzanne Vega at the Warfield . . . Bruce Hornsby at Concord Pavilion . . . The revised Pink Floyd at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

Some Foul Shows

Billy Idol at the Cow Palace . . . "Dylan: Words and Music," a misguided theatrical production that ran at the Zephyr Theater . . . Duran Duran at Shoreline . . . The reformed Moby Grape at Flint Center (an embarrassing spectacle) . . . Fleetwood Mac at the Cow Palace.

Good News and Bad

The good ol' Grateful Dead experienced a fantastic year: top 10 album, great local shows at a variety of locales, the brief tour with Dylan and a Broadway box-office record-breaking run by a solo show from guitarist Jerry Garcia, which also hit the Warfield . . . The Starship struck the top of the charts this year again with "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," courtesy of the production magic of Marin's Narada Michael Walden (clearly producer of the year with three No. 1 records under his belt), although the group's subsequent album fizzled . . . Carlos Santana was the subject of an exhibition at the Mission Cultural Center, celebrating 20 years of his fabled rock bands . . . Dozens of Bay Area rock musicians got together to film a video extolling the idea of the San Francisco Rock and Roll Museum.

Wolfgang's burned down . . . The Farm, home to alternative music shows, closed after a dispute with the landlord . . . The Old Fillmore came back to life, under the ownership of Burt and Regina Kortz . . . Banks foreclosed on the Circle Star Theater, and San Carlos car dealer Jim Birney bought the white elephant and reopened it before the end of the year . . . The year's great jams: John Fogerty and Chris Isaak (Bay Area musician of the year) at the Bammies and Robert Cray with Albert Collins at this year's S.F. Blues Festival.

The Doobie Brothers reunion at Shoreline sold more tickets than the band's farewell show five years earlier . . . David Bowie returned to big production extravaganzas with his "Glass Spider" tour, which played San Jose's Spartan Stadium, although the results were far from spectacular . . . Neil Young did a few local club dates, disguised as a bluesman fronting a band called the Blue Notes, earning himself a Bammie nomination as Best Blues/Ethnic Act . . . Foul-mouthed and obnoxious counts: The Beastie Boys began the year playing Wolfgang's, but by summer the three rapsters were headliners over Run/D.M.C. at a sold-out Shoreline show . . . Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts brought an elegant 33-piece jazz band to the Galleria . . . A crippled Ronnie Lane, the former member of Small Faces sufferring from multiple sclerosis, made a poignant performance at Wolfgang's, where he had to be carried on and off stage . . . A five-hour video shoot of old Stax-Volt performers at Wolfgang's was worth it if only for the duet on "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" between Jeffrey Osbourne and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave.

 

 


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