1969: Bill Graham Hires Diane Sward (Rapaport) as an Artist’s Manager

Three months went by without my having any clue about how I could get a job with Bill Graham’s Fillmore Management.

I continued to find bookings for Pamela Polland, Jan Tangen and Dave Friedman. Gigs in Bay Area coffeehouses were easy to get, but they didn’t make a lot of money for anyone, including the performers. They were able to get a few gigs in clubs at 8 or 8:30 p.m., prior to when many rock bands began setting up for a 9:30 show. I told club owners that my band would help warm up the audience, didn’t need a big stage setup (no drums, no big amps, no stage monitors) and would make them enough extra bucks selling drinks to pay us.

However rock fans and acoustic music fans didn’t always mix well. More often than not the audience would start getting impatient around 9:15. “We want jerry (Garcia); we want Elvin (Bishop) and so on.”

I attended a lot of Lamb gigs and saw such other Bay Area acoustic performers as Lambert & Nuttycombe, Jeffrey Cain and Uncle Vinty. They were all bucking up against rock ‘n roll. The audiences for rock bands were larger; and that meant more money for the club owners. The only songwriter that seemed to draw a large crowd was Victoria when she played outdoors at San Francisco’s Cannery.

Uncle Vinty would stride to the piano, put on his Viking hat, wild hair poking out, and belt out hilarious and passionate tunes, a big grin on his face. Everyone loved him. He brought out our young-at-heart natures. One of my favorite songs had the refrain, “The Moon is never going to let us down,’ and it can be seen on yuoutube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV_HAiz9Pxk

Uncle Vinty would stride to the piano, put on his Viking hat, wild hair poking out, and belt out hilarious, joyous and passionate tunes, a big grin on his face. Everyone loved him. He brought out our young-at-heart natures. One of my favorite songs had the refrain, “The Moon is never going to let us down,’ and it can be seen on yuoutube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV_HAiz9Pxk How could you not love a mau who sings, “Don’t ever forget, you can always go out and howl at the moon. . ah oooooooo.”  Or “The plants and the animals stand and sing, when you’re not looking, when you’re in love.”

 

Lamb and Victoria were signed to Fillmore Records (distributed by Warner Brothers); Jeffrey Cain to Warner Brothers via the producer of the Youngbloods; Lambert & Nuttycombe to A & M Records. But nobody, including my trio, were going anywhere. Everyone was making just enough money to feed themselves.

Jeffrey Cain was a singer/songwriter who released “For You” and “Whispering Thunder” on the Raccoon imprint of Warner Bros. that was run by the Youngbloods. Lamb recorded Jeffrey’s great song, “Reach High” on Lamb’s second album, “Cross Between.”

Jeffrey Cain was a singer/songwriter who released “For You” and “Whispering Thunder” on the Raccoon imprint of Warner Bros. that was run by the Youngbloods. Lamb recorded Jeffrey’s great song, “Reach High” on Lamb’s second album, “Cross Between.”

A Lightbulb Flashes Inside My Head
While washing dinner dishes one afternoon, I thought, what if Bay Area acoustic performers had their own evening? They wouldn’t have to compete with the rock bands and have their more gentle sounds become dwarfed by raucous fans stomping, “We want the Grateful Dead.” Each of them had small, loyal followings and, combined, would make for a decent audience. A name came into all these thoughts in the same flash: Equinox; A Traveling Faire of Acoustic Music.” I could talk the record companies into giving me money promoting the idea.. The music critics would love to write about it. A win-win for all.

Bill Graham gave Equinox a Tuesday night at the Fillmore, a night traditionally reserved for  audition bands.

Bill Graham gave Equinox a Tuesday night at the Fillmore, a night traditionally reserved for audition bands.

The vision was so complete that it reminded me of how many songwriters described how some window in their heart opened, and their songs came to them complete, as though they were channeling it.

In a rush of excitement I called David Rubinson of Fillmore Records. He was the one who sent me to see Bill Graham about a job in management many months ago, only to be rebuffed. “I have an idea . . . Can I come down and talk with you about it?” He didn’t ask what it was. He just said yes.

After blurting in all out in a rush, Rubinson asked, “What do you need to carry this idea out?”

“An office, a phone and a salary.”

“How much salary?”

“$150 a week. I’d take the expenses out of any promo money I got.”

He led me to a windowless office in the back of the first floor. Gave me a desk. Set up phones. I got to work.

David was supporting an essentially rogue operation out of Fillmore Records.

Equinox: A Promotional Hook as Good as a Hit Song
First, I told the bands about my idea and new job and asked them to agree to perform as a group once or twice a week. They were completely supportive. The records companies pitched in $200 a month for promotion of Equinox gigs. Then I had a poster designed and printed that made it possible to add the names of performers and the club/date and took it around to various clubs and began to get bookings.

Lambert & Nuttycomb’s 1970 release was recorded live at the home they shared in Sausalito, California, and co-produced by David Anderle (The Doors, Love), Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) and Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones).

Lambert & Nuttycomb’s 1970 release was recorded live at the home they shared in Sausalito, California, and co-produced by David Anderle (The Doors, Love), Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy) and Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Rolling Stones).

Equinox was a fabulous promotional ‘hook.’ It was easy to get club owners on board, especially on off nights like Monday or Tuesday. It was easy to get reviewers to come to the gigs and write about the idea and the individual bands. The fan base got larger; the bookings increased. Airplay for their recordings followed.

My involvement with Lamb and with Victoria increased. Because they had no manager to resolve their day-to-day problems, it became my job to get them to gigs on time, make sure they had a decent sound system and sound check, collect and divvy up the money, and talk to record companies about how much their fans loved them, send out press releases, contact people on a growing mailing list every time there was a gig.

And all the while I also used my office and the prestige that went with it to further Pamela’s career, I made a demo and started approaching record companies to sign her.

Photo taken by Scott  Runyan on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.

Photo taken by Scott Runyan on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County.

My Job at Fillmore Management Becomes Reality
Six months later, David sent me upstairs to see Bill again. This time Keeva Krystal, Bill’s gatekeeper, let me pass into Bill’s office. He was polite, rather than dismissive. I did not remind him of his sexist remark, “No women. No way.”

“You can have the back office next to Taj Mahal,” Bill said. “I only want to see you when you have problems you can’t solve. Same salary that David is giving you.”

Although I had proven I had a lot of creative spunk, there was a lot I did not know.

My bands were now part of a much bigger team in a conglomerate that included Bill Graham Presents (concert production at Fillmore West and Fillmore East), Fillmore Records, Fillmore Management, Fillmore Publishing, and The Millard Agency. Theoretically, all these entities would help forward the career of bands that were signed to Fillmore Management, which included Santana, Taj Mahal, In Cold Blood, It’s a Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop, Lamb and Victoria, and for a few years, The Pointer Sisters.

In practice, these bands competed for the same attention and bucks. Right up there on the third floor of Fillmore Management, a big internecine war was always going on, between band members, band members and managers, manager and managers, managers and booking agents and so on. There were hundreds of ways to be jerked around. At one point, Santana walked on and took on the job of management on their own. It was ‘office politics’ on a scale I never even dreamed existed.

Bands that had record deals with major labels competed not only with other bands that were signed to Fillmore Records, but the entire stable of bands signed to the larger record label.

Problems? There were always problems. Every day. The manager was chief problem solver. And the person that would take the flak for anything that went wrong with a smile.

The sign on my office door read, “Here’s Help.”

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Fillmore Management Clips Off My Career as an Artist Manager

Rejection in the music business is as common as dirt. You can cry or laugh, but if you let it get to you, it’s as quick as quicksand to bury you.

Despite my advice to the contrary, the band I was managing from Mexico moved to the Bay Area. We were living communally. Eventually I found them good paying work in a Holiday Inn in Palm Springs playing a mix of top-40 pop and their own compositions.

Then they fired me. They had three strikes against me. I didn’t have connections in the business. I didn’t cook enough vegetables. I used too much toilet paper.

They also fired my boyfriend/guitarist who founded the band. They said my 45-year old boyfriend was just that—too old.

The real reason was a slick-talking talent agent named Randy Fred (his real name!) lured the rest of the band to Los Angeles with promises of fame and fortune.

My boyfriend felt whipped by the rejection and became determined to learn how to play rock-n-roll guitar. I went looking for teachers. While at a laundromat in Mill Valley, I found a business card: “Jan Tangen, lessons in rock and blues guitar.” I called him up and was invited to come hear him and his partner Dave Friedman, rehearse some music. I listened entranced to the acoustic guitar medleys they had composed. At the end of the evening, I asked them where they were performing. “Nowhere.” “Well how would you like me to manage you?” I began getting them gigs.

Within a month of my new management career, singer/songwriter Pamela Polland arrived on my doorstep, her dog Canina in her arms and her upright piano on the back of a pick-up truck. Dick Gabrio, a blonde swashbuckler guitar player I met in Mexico, drove her there. The first song I heard Pamela sing was played on the piano on top of the pickup. They moved the piano and themselves into my house.

She was wearing a velvet skirt and a lacey top that let her full breasts swing and heave. She carried a large velvet paisley purse that seemed to contain everything important to her. One pouch carried a maroon velvet jacket and white satin camisole top; another a pair of ornate silver teaspoons for tapping out tunes, a dying folk art. A plastic bag carried the spices for an elaborate three-course vegetarian curry dinner, which she cooked for all of us a few days after she moved in. There was a blue pottery cop that was a gift from her brother, an address book and makeup.

Pamela was escaping from Los Angeles. She had recorded an album titled “Gentle Soul” for Epic Records that featured her singing harmonies with folkie Rick Stanley accompanied by Ry Cooder on guitar, Paul Horn on flute and Van Dyke Parks on harpsichord. The producer was Terry Melcher (The Byrds, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc.)

One of the first 'folkie' records released on Epic Records in the sixties.

One of the first ‘folkie’ records released on Epic Records in the sixties.

Although Pamela and Rick Stanley were big ‘draws’ at Los Angeles’ Troubadour, their album went nowhere.

The Troubadour nightclub is still around. Singer/songwriters regularly played there in the nineteen sixties. It played an important role in helping launch the careers of Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Jackson Brown and Elton John.

The Troubadour nightclub is still around. Singer/songwriters regularly played there in the nineteen sixties. It played an important role in helping launch the careers of Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Jackson Brown and Elton John.

Pamela swore she would never sign a major label contract again. She and her dog Canina took up the living space that my old band had left when they went to same rock ‘n roll dream in Los Angeles that Pamela was fleeing from.

Gentle Soul was recently re-released as a CD. Pamela tells me the original vinyl is worth hundreds of dollars. http://www.saradainc.com/RickStanleyPressKit/thegentlesoulreviews.html

Not weeks afterwards, Pamela fell in love with Jan Tangen. My duo now became a trio. Pamela moved in with Jan and Dick disappeared. At every gig, Dave and Jan would play a few instrumentals, Pamela would sing a few songs and then the three would perform a few numbers together. Not ideal, but it worked because they were immensely talented.

As for my old band—Los Angeles wasn’t great for them either. They broke up within three months of arriving. Years later, the music industry spit Randy Fred out of his job as a talent agent. He ended up as a salesman for Purina Dog Chow. Call it karma.

Second Rejection: “Lady, Your Trio was Shit”
The Lion’s Share was a small, influential club in San Anselmo, California (just up from San Rafael) where such Bay Area musical greats as Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and Van Morrison often performed. Nobody minded the bare tables and floors, the wrought iron chairs, a bar that was not fifteen feet from the stage, which the owner refused to stop operating when the bands played, so that the ringing of the cash register became an integral part of the music. The owner at that time was a fleshy older man, not a cigar smoker, but he wore t-shirts that smelled and showed his beer belly. It was a cold room to play in, except that it was one of the few clubs North of San Francisco in Marin County that hired the hip acts and paid them and that had a sound system and piano.

Two nights after New Year’s Eve, Jan, Dave and Pamela got their first booking there. Most other Bay Area bands were burned out from playing the Thanksgiving to New Years circuits and clubs were struggling to fill their stages.

David Rubinson, record producer of Taj Mahal, Herbie Hancock and Elvin Bishop, agreed to show up. And so did Phil Elwood, the music critic for the San Francisco Examiner. It was the first time important people agreed to come to one of my trio’s gigs. I could barely contain my excitement. What a way to start the New Year. Maybe Rubinson would sign them to Fillmore Records. Maybe he’d make them famous. Maybe I would become important and know the somebodies. Maybe they’d get a great review. The fantasies were spinning pinwheels inside my head.

As I did my best to charm Rubinson, a handsome, lanky man, Dave Friedman emerged from back stage, his face a chalky paste. “May I see you backstage, Miss Sward?” (That was my name before I married Walter Rapaport.) The look if despair etched into the politeness of his words, the casual control he was trying to convey, meant that something terrible had happened.

Jan was turning in circles, swinging his guitar and threatening to break it. “I’m never going to play with that bitch again,” he yelled. It was the first time I had seen Jan so humiliatingly frustrated, so near to tears, so angry and out of control.

Pamela was sobbing in the car in the back parking lot, almost as out of control as Jan, with a “how could he” hysteria. It didn’t occur to her that she might have said something to set it all off. Jan was to blame.

They had a lover’s quarrel at the wrong time, a common occurrence in the music biz when the pressure was on.

I didn’t care who as to blame. All I could think of was ‘Oh, shit, how in the hell am I going to get them on stage in five minutes.’ No time to sort out who said what. “Holy cow,” I said, to Pamela, ignoring her tears, “David Rubinson is sitting out in the audience right now and if you aren’t the fuck on stage on five minutes, I’m going to tell him to leave.” Not accusing her; simply dwelling on the consequences of her tears. And then I walked away and told Jan the same thing, except I agreed with him “She can be a bitch; it would serve her right to flow the audition. All of this interspersed with a lot of swear words. Just as Jan started to calm down, in walked Pamela, holding back tears, the look of a tragic heroine in her bearing, regal, controlled, disciplined and contrite. Totally and wholly contrite. It was so unexpected that she caught us off guard. We forgave her instantly, even before she asked for it quite humbly.

It was a lackadaisical performance. The audience talked all the way through it. Rubinson walked out in the middle of it. “Call me tomorrow before 11,” he said.

The next morning three phone conversations changed the course of my life.
Pamela called me early. “I’m willing to sign a contract for you to be my manager,” she announced.

“Gee, Pamela, how come?”

“The most important thing a manager can do is keep a band together. It’s what my old manager couldn’t do. Every time I’d get a good band together, something would break down. Sometimes it would be my bad temper sometimes something else. I’d have to start over. Last night you kept us together. That meant a lot to me.”

If that was the most important thing an artist manager did, it was news to me, but I only said thank you and drew up contracts.

A friend called who told me to go out and get a newspaper. Phil Elwood had given my band a sterling review. I hadn’t noticed when he had slipped in.

Then I phoned David Rubinson. “Thank you for coming to see Pamela and Jan and Dave. What did you think of them?”

Without so much as a hello, Rubinson said, “Lady, your trio was shit, but I liked your style. I’d like to talk to you about managing two acoustic bands that are signed to Fillmore Records.” That floored me. I went to see him the next day.

The Third Rejection: “No Women, No Way.”
I went to see Rubinson at Fillmore Records. His office was on the first floor of an unprepossessing building across from Fillmore West. Millard Agency took up the second floor and Fillmore Management, the third. He talked to me about managing Lamb, a jazz/folk duo, and a singer/songwriter named Victoria. “They’re not getting any management because everyone’s time is taken up by Santana, Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood, Beautiful Day and Taj Mahal. They need someone to manage just them.”

David sent me upstairs to see Bill Graham. I passed by Carlos Santana and Elvin Bishop and other members of their bands joking together in easy camaraderie. What a fun place to work, I thought to myself. I passed Bill’s secretary. But before I could see Bill, I had to pass by Keeva Krystal, his gatekeeper, a beefy guy that reminded me of actors that played Mafioso characters. Keeva didn’t let me get any closer to Bill than an abrupt dismissal: “No women, no way. All they want to do is hook up with a rock star and have babies.” I know that my mouth fell open, but I had no rejoinder, and I knew that even if I did, that was the end of the interview. It was one of the few times in my entire career in the music business that sexism in a male-dominated industry got in my way.

I went back downstairs and thanked David for his time.

It wasn’t the end of the story. My curiosity had been whetted. Rejections make me stubborn.

I went to see the groups David wanted me to manage. Victoria was a willowy beauty with one of those high, querulous voices I have never loved and a kind of bitchiness that was as dismissive in its way as Keeva’s. She couldn’t begin to match Pamela’s songwriting and stage charisma.

A week later, I went to see Lamb perform at a club North of Marin called the Inn of the Beginning. Barbara’s voice wove in an out of Bob’s classic/jazz guitar riffs like an ornate tapestry, full of magic and surprise. Their music still haunts me.

Singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist of Lamb. Back cover of their second album, Cross Between. Photo by Peter Olwyler.

Singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist of Lamb. Back cover of their second album, Cross Between. Photo by Peter Olwyler.

I set my sights on finding a way to become Lamb’s manager and work for Bill Graham and Fillmore Management.

Bill Graham: Intimidation as a Negotiating Tactic

Bill Graham wasn’t always nice, but he was fair, and if he made an agreement he would often honor it without a written contract.

Bill Graham. You wouldn't want him on your bad side during a negotiation.

Bill Graham. You wouldn’t want him on your bad side during a negotiation.


That is until Santana and his band quit Fillmore Management. When they became famous after Woodstock, a gig Bill got for them that put them on the national map, they got swelled hearts and walked out. What did they need him for anymore? Bill Graham and Santana had no written contracts. (Santana came crawling back to Fillmore Management a few years later.)

If Bill’s idea of fair didn’t agree with you, he’d pummel you with words. And then he’d start yelling. You don’t want Bill Graham yelling at you. He made a lot of people cry. Or he’d terrify them. Or both. He got his way a lot.

I learned a lot about negotiation and intimidation from him when I was hired to manage his acoustic groups at Fillmore Management: Lamb, Victoria, Pamela Polland and, for about a year, The Pointer Sisters.

Bill Graham Teaches Diane Sward About Intimidation
Soon after I started working for him, I heard him yelling at me as soon as I started walking up to my office on the third floor of Fillmore Management.

“If that’s Diane Sward, I want her in my office immediately. Get up here now.”

My heart started pounding. I reviewed what I had done for the last few days, weeks. Wasn’t coming up with much.

I walked past his secretary Vicki who gave me an “I don’t know look,” and into his office, which was just across the street form Fillmore West. Before I had a chance to say hello, he growled, “Sit down.” I said nothing.

Bill got up from his desk and walked over to the record player. He put on an album of Tito Puente, one of his all time favorite salsa musicians and one of the great symbols of Latin jazz. Then Bill walked back to his desk, sat down, turned his chair so I faced his back and put his feet up on the windowsill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZQh4IL7unM Tito Puente’s last performance of “Oye Como Va,” which was also recorded by Santana.

There we sat for fifteen minutes while the infectious music of Tito Puente filled the room. My heart was still pounding and now I was thoroughly confused and disoriented. Then Bill got up, took the record off and put it in its jacket. He turned to me. “Okay,” he said. “You can go now. That’s your energy rush for the day.”

It must have been relief, because I started laughing. “This is a rough business,” he said. Never lose your sense of humor. If you do, you’re dead.” He had just showed me that gruffness and intimidation were just tactics, to be used when needed.

Bill Graham Meets Canina
Maybe it was only a few months later, when Bill yelled at me for the second time. It was during a sound check for Pamela Polland, a singer songwriter I was managing that was signed to Columbia Records. She would be appearing for the first time at Fillmore West. I was back with the sound guys and light guys at the mixing console in the back of the ballroom telling them how I wanted the sound adjusted. Pamela’s dog Canina was sitting demurely in front of the piano.

I could hear Bill Graham running over to the sound console in full pant. “Get that goddamned dog off my goddamned stage,” he yelled. “No dogs. No dog shit. If you don’t get that dog out of here, Pamela isn’t playing tonight. And I don’t want to hear any of your bullshit either. Do you know how many bands would love to take her place?”

Cover of Pamela Polland’s first album for Columbia Records. She was signed by Clive Davis, who loved her songs and music. When I flew back to play Clive her second album, produced by Gus Dudgeon (who produced Elton John), he stonewalled it. Not two weeks later, the New York Times lead story was about Clive Davis’ embezzlement of money from the record company, a story that included fraud, payola and ties to crime syndicates. Pamela's second record was never released. Pamela and I exited the big business music industry soon after. She sang under the pseudonym Melba Rounds; I left Fillmore Management and started teaching musicians about business

Cover of Pamela Polland’s first album for Columbia Records. She was signed by Clive Davis, who loved her songs and music. When I flew back to play Clive her second album, produced by Gus Dudgeon (who also produced Elton John), Clive stonewalled it. Not two weeks later, the New York Times lead story was about Clive Davis’ embezzlement of money from the record company, a story that included fraud, payola and ties to crime syndicates. The record was never released. Pamela and I exited the big business music industry soon after. She sang under the pseudonym Melba Rounds; I left Fillmore Management and started teaching musicians about business

By now, I had worked for Bill long enough to not argue and just kind of drift away and out of sight. When I saw him fifteen minutes later, my rap went something like this: “Well, the dog is kind of a ‘logo’ for her, just like the RCA Victor Dog. She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t shit. She has appeared on stage with her countless times. It’ll be okay. Don’t worry about it. She’s probably the only performer who does this.” Bill shrugged his shoulders and I took it for tacit permission. I couldn’t let Bill get under my skin. I wasn’t about to tell Pamela to kick Canina off stage. Nor was I going to start laughing when Bill started yelling at me, but the scene was hilarious.

Pamela Polland's dog Canina looked just like the RCA Victor dob.

Pamela Polland’s dog Canina looked just like the RCA Victor dob.

Pamela gave a stellar performance at Fillmore West with Canina on stage.

More information on Pamela can be found on her web site. http://www.PamelaPolland.com

The Last Days of the Fillmore
The third time Bill Graham yelled at me was immortalized in the movie, “The Last Days of the Fillmore.” I went into his office to beg him to pay for a ticket to bring Bob Swanson and Barbara Mauritz of Lamb back from Boston.

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.

BarbaraMauritz and Bob Swanson of Lamb. Photo by Peter Olwyer.


Barbara was sick and pregnant and would not be able to perform. He threw me out of his office. “I’m not running a goddamn welfare agency.” What the movie didn’t show was me coming back to his office after half an hour and talking him into paying for a plane ticket. I never yelled. I just waited until he calmed down and then gave him what I thought was a reasonable rap.

Lamb opened one of the evenings of performances of the “last days’ with a stunning version and performance of their song “Hello Friends.” A youtube video captures it beautifully as well as an equally stunning performance of her song River Boulevard.Their performances are also captured on the DVD “The Last Days of the Fillmore.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgPw2Q9-6jc

Barbara was a great singer and songwriter who, together with Bob Swanson, her partner and astounding guitarist, should have have become famous, but did not, a tragedy not uncommon in the entertainment business. Lamb’s first two albums, “A Sign of Change” and “Cross Between” were re-released by Wounded Bird Records and by Collector’s Choice Music in 2010 but they are out of print and difficult to find. They were great records.

A Sign of Change, Lamb's first album, produced by Walter Rapaport and David Rubinson for Fillmore Records.

A Sign of Change, Lamb’s first album, produced by Walter Rapaport and David Rubinson for Fillmore Records.

Bill Graham Captures a Thief
Bill Graham’s most astounding performance of intimidation was on behalf of Lamb.

One morning I walked into my office. Someone had climbed up the fire escape, broken the window and stole their two guitars and banjo. They were trying to sell them and had stashed them in my office. I called the police, who were not very interested. They said to leave descriptions at all the pawn shops.

Then I remembered a guy who had come in the day before and was interested in the banjo. When he started playing, Taj Mahal drifted in from the office next door, and then they started trading riffs. The guy said he sometimes worked in the head shop downstairs. Like a flash, I knew he is was that guy who had broken in to my office.

I paid the head shop a visit. “I know you think this is going to be an off-the-wall request, but one of my bands needs a banjo player tonight. I know that the guy who works here is really good player. He was in my office yesterday trading riffs with Taj Mahal. I need to get hold of him.” The long haired hippie behind the counter was looking at me in disbelief. “We can’t give out the phone numbers of our employees,” he mumbled. “Look,” I said, “I work upstairs at Fillmore Management. This might be his big chance. The gig is at Fillmore West tonight. You can look at the marquis from here.” I went on in this vein. Finally the guy realizes he isn’t going to get rid of me so easily and tears up a corner of a paper bag and writes the first name of the guy and his phone number.

I could tell by the first three numbers that he lived somewhere in the neighborhood. I called the cops again. “Hey I got the name and phone number of the thief. “ I told them the story. The cop said, “You’ve got nothing but circumstantial evidence, lady, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

So I did what Bill Graham told me to go when he hired me. “Try and solve the problem and if you can’t, you can come to me as a last resort.” If there was a situation for a last resort, this was it. After I told Bill the story, he said, “Gimme the name and number.” He picks up the phone and dials. As soon as the guy picks up the phone, Bill starts up, his voice dangerous and mean, his New York brogue thick and rich.

“Roger, you don’t know who I am, but I know who you are. You broke into my fucking office last night, broke one of my windows and stole two guitars and a banjo. If you don’t bring them back to my office in 15 minutes, I’m going to personally break every finger on your hand, one my one, and you’ll never play the banjo again.” He kept yelling for a few more minutes and banged the phone down.

Roger could have no way of knowing how the hell Bill even had his phone number and knew his name. But he wasn’t going to wait for his fingers to be torn to shreds. Ten minutes later, Roger walked up the stairs to Bill’s office with the instruments. Bill let him chill for another ten minutes and then subjected him to another angry tirade.

Diane Sward (Rapaport) Meets Bill Graham at Fillmore West 1968

In 1968, a band that I was managing in Mexico City sent me to San Francisco, California to scout the ‘scene.’ They wanted to move there and become famous.

During my first week, I attended performances of the Grateful Dead, Beautiful Day, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar and Joni Mitchell. I decided to pay an impromptu visit to Bill Graham, who was already famous as the producer of rock ‘n roll concerts at Fillmore West and Fillmore East.

One of the great Fillmore West posters. Graham used to give a poster and an apple  to each person that attended a concert

One of the great Fillmore West posters. Graham used to give a poster and an apple to each person that attended a concert


I traipsed up to the second floor of Fillmore West at 10 a.m. The ballroom was dark and cavernous with basketball hoops at each side, fronted by a large stage. An adjacent café was dimly lit and some guy sat at a table sobbing. He hardly looked up at me as I passed him and knocked on a door with light leaking underneath.

“Come in,” a gruff voice shouted.

I opened the door to see a large, fullback of a man glowering behind his desk. He probably thought I was going to be the guy sobbing in the cafe.

Bill Graham at Fillmore West

Bill Graham at Fillmore West


I looked Bill Graham straight in the eyes. In my most confident and modulated voice I said, “Mr. Graham, my name is Diane Sward. I’m the manager of the number one band in Mexico City. They want to move here and sent me on scouting expedition.”

This little speech took Graham aback even more. You could almost see him wondering whether I was putting him on. Nothing was quite fitting together. I paused and smiled.

“Have you come to any conclusions,” he finally asked.

“After listening to some of the bands here, my conclusion is my band couldn’t begin to compete with the originality of songwriting and the quality of musicianship. Now I have to go back to Mexico and tell them. They’re not going to like hearing what I have to say.”

His face relaxed. I could see he liked my straightforwardness and the fact that I wasn’t trying to ‘sell him’ on my band. I was having difficulty continuing to look in his eyes, which were beginning to unnerve me with their intensity. And besides, I wanted to look at all the psychedelic posters, photos of rock stars and copies of gold records taking up all the wall space.

Bill Graham at Fillmore West, relaxed and affable.

Bill Graham at Fillmore West, relaxed and affable.


We chitchatted only a few more minutes. I had decided before I arrived to take no more than ten minutes of his time. Before I took my leave, however, my curiosity overwhelmed me. “Why is that guy out there in the cafe sobbing his heart out?”

Graham changed into a red-hot, intimidating monster in one flat second. His voice became a loud growl.

“That goddamned son of a bitch had the nerve to come in here asking ‘Hi, What’s happening, man.’ What’s happening is that I’m running a fucking business and if he had any balls, he’d figure out how to manage Beautiful Day. All he thinks about these days is how to get stoned.”

Graham went on in this vein for another minute, my eyes getting rounder by the minute. I hadn’t ever heard that kind of raw language. I tried to keep a calm demeanor. I kept looking into his eyes and did not flinch or step back. My heart was pounding. It was a glimpse of a master in the tactics of intimidation.

Then he did something that took me as much by surprise as my entrance did for him. His face suddenly lit into an impish and very charming grin. He shook my hand and winked. I was so nonplussed that I barely remembered to thank for his time.

Fillmore West: The Carousel Ballroom

Fillmore West: The Carousel Ballroom


The guy in the café was still sobbing. He was John Walker, the manager of ‘It’s a Beautiful Day,’ one of the bands Bill Graham signed to Fillmore Management and Fillmore Records, along with Santana, Cold Blood, Elvin Bishop, Lamb and Taj Mahal.

Little did I know that a year and a half later Bill Graham would become my boss and that I would be managing the acoustic groups that he had signed and, for a brief period, The Pointer Sisters.

Rafting the Colorado River at Westwater with 170 Cans of Beer

Jerome, Arizona is full of lively adventurers. As soon as we arrived in 1980, our friends were taking us backpacking and whitewater rafting in the Southwest. All private trips. Sometimes we got along; sometimes not. I came across this tale while paddling through my writing notes and said, what the hell, I’ll post it for all my river friends.

Richard Martin and Diane Rapaport on a ten-day trip on the Yaqui river in Mexico  circa 1986. Five guys and me. We explained to the Mexicans we encountered that we were a Club Deportivo (a sporting club).

Richard Martin and Diane Rapaport on a ten day trip on the Yaqui river in Mexico circa 1986. Five guys and me. We explained to the Mexicans we encountered that we were a Club Deportivo (a sporting club).

The beer wasn’t ours. It belonged to 18-year old Tank and three young women whom I quickly named Pabst, Blue and Ribbon. The women’s wore red, blue and silver bikinis displaying hourglass bodies that were so perfect and smooth they looked manufactured. Tank was a fullback hero at his college. He told us he could regularly plow through a dozen linemen. We were the old hippie fogies.

Tank and friends were sharing their rafting permit with my husband and I, son Max, and his best friend and girlfriend for two days rafting on the Colorado River at Westwater. Two Rubber oar rafts for them; two for us. Tank had never rowed a boat, much less a raft, before. Pabst told us she was a whitewater guide that had been trained by her father and would be the lead boat through the rapids. The four of us had thousands of river miles between us.

Once the sun began to set, the mosquitos came out of hiding from large tamarisk bushes lining the river. (The tammies were only beginning to be eaten up by the new super bugs that were beginning to be used up and down river.)

Tank was spraying RAID on the women, up and down their bodies and on their faces (they did close their eyes), a spray so thick it enveloped them in a kind of plastic bubble. Then Tank built a large fire in the fire-pan to further ward off the mosquitos. The smell of smoke, RAID mixed with the dust of 75 cars and trucks wheeling in and out of the parking lots at sundown on a Saturday evening reminded me of a weird kind of drive-in movie in the boonies that my teenage boyfriend used to take me to when I was 14.

It was 106 degrees in the shade.

The next day, it was mid-afternoon by the time we got on the river. Tank, Pabst, Blue and Ribbon didn’t show up until about ten, fingers already curling around a can of beer. For breakfast , they munched on Doritos and Cheese Whiz with beer chasers. Tank lathered sunscreen over the Raid, but missed lots of parts of their bodies. It took them three hours to load the coolers full of 170 cans of beer, food and the rest of their gear. We watched as they roped it all casually on the boats. Finally they flopped in and were headed down river.

This was the beginning of a wilderness experience it never even occurred to me to dream up. There were two different types of trips occurring simultaneously.

The two days we were on the river, I never saw them without their fingers curdling around a can of beer. They never saw us without a joint.

First day was without mishaps. Lots of swimming to cool off; lots of water fights. We watched as they stopped, climbed up on high rocks and dove into the river. Lots of laughter. They shrieked their way down river. We were in some sort of somnambulist dream floating between the ripples of sky and water, surrounded by orange and magenta cliffs.

At the end of the day, Pabst, Blue and Ribbon stumbled out of the boats, flopped on the beach that day and passed out, too drunk to get in the shade. Already their bodies were turning into a kind of patchwork quilt: bright magenta where they had missed with the sunscreen; and kind of bleached white where the sunscreen had been applied. We tried to tell Tank he should at least get them into shade, but he just laughed. “Sun’ll be down soon,” he muttered.

Not our trip; not our friends. If we hadn’t been there, the same actions would have gone down. But we did pick up after them and made sure we left a clean camp.

The next day, the boats seemed to maneuver themselves through the three rapids that Westwater was known for. The river was low and the rapids quite passable. The room of doom, a big eddy that is almost unbreakable, was a ‘not much.’ In the front boat, Blue held on to the bowline standing up, as though she were riding a horse. The second boat went through backwards. No mishaps.

Walter Rapaport and Richard Martin on the Colorado River in the eighties.

Walter Rapaport and Richard Martin on the Rio Grande River through Texas in the eighties.

Towards the end of the day, Tank and the women found magenta cliffs that rose up forty feet from the river. The women climbed up and jumped off, feet first. Tank decided to show off a double back flip. His back hit the water with the sound of a sudden thunder-clap. It was also the sound of injury. He got to shore and our son’s best friend checked him out and said he likely had some internal bleeding and we needed to get to the take-out as soon as possible and rush him to a hospital. The girls woke up from their drunken stupors and started crying.

Drunkenness and foolhardiness are somewhat common on river trips. Some people just look forward to just getting totally wasted. On one trip through the big rapids on the Colorado, there were 112 cases of Blatt (We call ’em blatz) beer for 16 people. Towards the end of that trip, the ice ran out and no one could stand to drink the blatz, so they started making beer bombs with them. Shake ‘em up and watch ‘em explode.

What else is there to say? Danger and peril always lurk during whitewater rafting, even in the best of circumstances. The river gods are somewhat forgiving to fools and assholes, but not always.

Tank was lucky. He did have internal injuries and he didn’t play football that season. We never saw him or the girls again.

Headless Ghosts: Jerome, AZ Mining Days

Papa Lozano’s father came to Jerome in the early 1900’s from a village in Sonora, Mexico where he worked on the assembly line in a sewing machine factory. His boss regularly beat him for minor infractions. After his boss slit off a corner of his ear, Lozano ran away, came to Arizona and signed on as a mucker for the United Verde Copper Company, owned by Williams Andrews Clark.

Deep under the ground, six days a week, Papa Lozano stood ankle deep in an oozy muck and shoveled newly blasted ore into carts. The drilling and blasting around him would produce a layer of fine dust that slowly infected his lungs and caused pneumoconiosis.

Life was hard, but there was no anxiety. The bosses were strict but not cruel. They allowed the muckers an after shift shower on company time in the building on the 500-level that was known as “The Dry.”

After his shift, Lozano would trudge with 400 other miners out of the belly of the mountain, blackened with muck and dust and climb the steps of the building known as “The “Dry.” He pissed shoulder-to-shoulder with his compadres in the long rows of urinals, set up like horse troughs along the building’s insides walls.

Photo by Bob Swanson (www.Swanson Images.com. The urinals in the Dry. The building has been razed.

Photo by Bob Swanson (www.Swanson Images.com. The urinals in the Dry.

He pulled off his steel toed boots, placed them in lockers, and stood shoulder to shoulder with his compadres under the long rods with the shower heads, still fully dressed, to rinse off the muck and the dust. He undressed and hitched his clothes to pulleys and hoisted them high up into the rafters to dry for the next day’s shift. Then he showered again, the steam smelling of sweat, urine and rock. Above, suspended clothing swayed slightly in the rafters, vaporous headless ghosts of the 400 men underneath.

Photos of the Dry by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com).

Photos of the Dry by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com).


Lozano was paid $2.00 a day for a 12-hour shift.

Perhaps only in comparison could you say that a life like that was sweeter or better.

(Diane Rapaport interviews with Papa Lozano and Andy Peterson (1981-1991)

The Supernatural Manx of Jerome AZ

Whiskers was a female Manx out of Nancy Driver’s litter. She came to our house in Jerome AZ as a kitten and lived a long life and happy life there.

She was the only cat I’ve ever known who loved spaghetti. She’d dip her face into the spaghetti strands, chew on them a bit, and come up with a tomato face which she then proceeded to clean with her paws for hours, a look of ecstasy on her face every time a remnant incited her memory buds.

She loved being manhandled by my husband Walter. He liked to pick her up by the ruff of her short neck and shake her a little. She’d go completely limp and hang there, purring a loud breeze. She had the same look of ecstasy when she cleaned spaghetti off her face.

Photo by Karen Weaver. A defining characteristic of the Manx breed is that they have no tails.

Whiskers loved walking with our son Max on his long rambles. Whiskers never walked with me and only sometimes would accompany Walter and our dog Amanda, but only for about half a block.

When Max was in his mid-teens, he and his friends would sneak off to get stoned on LSD, magic peyote mushrooms and pot but not hard drugs like crack or meth. He got turned off to the hard drugs when he watched his friends insert needles into themselves to get high and watched the sad effects of addiction take over.

One early summer day, just before Max went off to college, one of his friends loaded him up with ‘shrooms and dropped him off at the head of Mescal Canyon, which was one canyon over from the one our house was perched over. He loped a few miles down canyon, slipped off his clothes and climbed into a clear water pool, the one surrounded by burnt sienna crags and a 10-foot waterfall dripping into it. He lost himself in the lilt of the music, the sun rippling the water into crystals, the watery blue of the sky, the coolness of the water on his skin.
 Nancy Louden celebrated the magic sensuality of that pool in a stained glass painting, which now hangs in Richard and Leigh Martin’s house.

As Max started to climb out and over the canyon wall, he saw a baby rattler shaking his tail at him not five feet from his face. In the same instance that Max felt the first surge of fear and began to drop back into the pool, suddenly, there was Whiskers rushing straight at the rattler, striking before the rattler even knew Whiskers was there. Max heard some scuttling and the next time he dared to look up over the lip of the wall, Whiskers was finishing off the last of the snake, another look of ecstasy on her face. Max has always been in a great deal of wonderment about how Whiskers appeared out of nowhere to save him.

When Whiskers was close to the end of his life, she would hang out for days under Max’s bed, occasionally coming out for a sip of water.

When Whiskers died, we buried her near an old apricot tree. As Walter finished putting the last spade of dirt on her, he heard the benevolent ghosts of our house whisper to him. “Thanks for giving us a cat to be our companion. We’ve been wishing for one for a long time.”