Early Years/Nazi Germany

Graham was born Wolfgang Wolodia Grajonca in Berlin, the son of Frieda (Sass) and Yankel Grajonca, an engineer. He was the youngest son of a lower-middle-class Jewish family. Two days after Graham was born, his father died.His mother sent him and his sister to an orphange to shield them from the Nazi threat to Jews.

Orphanages France, NYC

The orphanage sent them to France, and at the end of the war he was sent to the United States. Once in the United States, Graham stayed in a foster home in The Bronx in New York City.

Growing up in NYC & The Army

Graham first worked on his accent, eventually being able to speak in a perfect New York accent, and changed his name from his real surname "Grajonca" to "Graham", and his first name to "Bill". He obtained a business degree from City College. He was drafted (Army) and served in the Korean War, where he was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Army Hero to World Renown Promoter

Return From the Army - NYC

Upon his return from the Army in the early 50s, Graham worked as a waiter/maitre d' in at the then very popular Catskill Mountain resorts in upstate New York. He was later quoted as saying that maitre d' job and poker games he hosted behind the scenes was good training for his later career as a promoter. He also became a champion mambo dancer in the NYC clubs.

San Francisco

Graham moved from New York to San Francisco in the early 1960s, nearer to his sister, Rita. He was invited to a free concert in Golden Gate Park, where he made contact with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a radical theater group. He gave up a promising business career to manage the troupe in 1965. He later organized a benefit concert to cover the troupe's legal fees resulting from the arrest of the troupe leader. The concert was a success, and Graham eventually left the troupe to promote concerts full time.

Becoming and Being "The Top Rock Concert Promoter"

A charismatic and difficult personality, Graham produced shows attracting elements of America's now legendary counterculture of the time - Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Country Joe and The Fish, Carlos Santana, ELO, and The Grateful Dead. He was the manager of Jefferson Airplane 1967-968. His successes allowed him to become the top concert promoter in rock music. He operated many famous venues - the Fillmore West and Winterland (both in SF) and the Fillmore East in NYC.
He went on to produce concerts worldwide, including very successful appearance of Santana in Russia.

Untimely End

Graham was killed in a helicopter crash near Vallejo, CA on October 25, 1991, while returning home from a Huey Lewis and the News concert at the Concord Pavilion.

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