If you don’t know who Bill Graham is now, you will soon. The life of the famous rock concert promoter will soon be a biopic, courtesy of Fox and 21 Laps. According to Deadline, the film will be helmed by Shawn Levy (This Is Where I Leave You), based on Graham’s autobiography Bill Graham: Me Life Inside Rock and Out. While many may not be aware of Graham, he certainly lead an interesting and productive life, helping to make history while also being at the front of the stage to many historical moments.
Born in 1931 in Germany, Graham fled to France in 1941 in order to escape the Holocaust. He ended up in a foster home in the Bronx, where he also attended college, and finally landed in San Francisco in the 1960s. He began promoting concerts and bands, and helped to not only “pioneer the promotion of rock concerts into major events,” but also establish San Francisco as a prominent destination for musicians. It was his influence that helped make San Francisco’s The Fillmore and Winterland Arena (where The Last Waltz took place) famous. He promoted bands including the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana, and was good friends with The Who and Rolling Stones. Graham died in 1991 in a helicopter crash at the age of 60,
Even without all those famous musicians, Graham’s life on its own is worthy of a biopic. He rose from Nazi Germany and a foster home to make not only a successful life, but a pioneering one, ushering in the age of concerts as events with stagecraft and showmanship. But given the musical talents he interacted with, this should make for a fun biopic. It will be neat to see the behind the scenes work of stage management and concert promotion, especially when the concert is for the Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin. If anything, the film should have an excellent soundtrack.
While the casting is anticipated, Levy’s involvement is met with a little scepticism. He certainly is capable of making this a good project, and as a producer has overseen success in films like The Spectacular Now. But his past directorial gigs are a little underwhelming, with films like The Watch, The Internship, and Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Even the highly anticipated ensemble piece This Is Where I Leave You wasn’t met with success. Still, Levy can certainly attract talent and is capable of finding a good story. Let’s just hope this film falls in that camp.