Bill Graham’s Chopper Crash

Oct. 25, 1991, after a Huey Lewis concert, Bill Graham‘s helicopter was being piloted by Steve Kahn, a friend of mine from high school days. The chopper crashed into power lines during a storm and Steve, Graham, and his girlfriend Melissa Gold, died.

When Steve first got his pilot license, he flew Larry “Lorenzo” Hayes and me over the gold dome of the Colorado capitol and then to Aspen where we ate breakfast. Then we flew to Las Vegas for lunch, then we flew to San Francisco for dinner after flying Under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Articles about the crash:

Bill Graham, Rock Impresario, Dies at 60 in Crash

A tribute to Bill Graham: Memorial concert was a worthy goodbye

Heroin Dealer “Wanted” Poster, circa 1970

This is the first of two anti-heroin posters that were created in the 1970s, a time when Boulder rallied and took a lesson from Haight-Ashbury and chased the heroin dealers out of Boulder.

These posters signify one of the finest moments in the hip Boulder Community when it came together in love for each other. For the first time, this is the story behind the posters.

In 1970, a heroin epidemic hit Boulder, Colorado. Large amounts of white H was coming into the country from Vietnam smuggled in the cadavers of US soldiers and making its way to Boulder. The cheap, good and plentiful dope was much stronger than the junkies were used to and as a result, there were many lethal overdoses on the hill.  I witnessed these events from the second-floor window in my store the Cotangent. In conversations with the beat patrol cops I suggested they come to the radio station KRNW where I worked and see what we could do together to form an anti-heroin campaign. At that meeting, the station agreed to put out public service announcements and disseminate information through the different disc jockeys. Great!

 I called old friends, Hank Schmidt to make the posters and Scott Coen to write the script. I asked the cops what was they could do for us if it we were successful and they asked what I had in mind. I told them no more walking patrols would be nice for it only caused tension among the street people. I also asked for no arrests for simple possession of an ounce or less of pot.

They agreed, we had a handshake deal, and the station went to work. The first poster printed the first name of all the heroin dealers on the hill with the promise of publishing their last names and photos in the next 10 days. It was a war of words. My windshield was broken and I received phone calls daily telling me not to f*** with the family. I replied that the “Boulder family” would not allow smack here.

Our plan worked.  The dope disappeared and the dealers split. In a couple weeks, the episode of the anti-heroin campaign soon faded away. More about the story will be in book.

PostScript— there is an interesting antidote involving Steve Stills. You can read about it in my forthcoming book. I won’t bash him for free but I will do it for money.


Dan Fong photographer.

Originally published at


BY James Pagliasotti
Copyright 2005

There are a lot of stories I could tell you about Dan Fong. In fact, he would pay me good money not to tell you some of them.

But I will tell you this: if you care about the time when rock & roll came of age, those days of Jimi and Janis and the Who and the Stones, then I can assure you Dan was there, camera in hand and sharp eyes focused.

I know because I was there, too. Dan and I grew up together in Denver in the 50s, 60s and 70s. We were there when Top 40 radio gave way to free-form, when singles gave way to albums, when wholesome and carefully coiffed performers gave way to all those long haired freaks with guitars.

We were there when Chet Helms brought the Family Dog to town and settled in on West Mississippi; when Barry Fey began producing shows at the Denver Coliseum; when Stuart Green’s Mammoth Gardens erupted in music uptown and Chuck Morris was booking Tulagi in Boulder. We heard it, we saw it, and we spent a lot of time with the people who made it happen. And, unlike many of the rest of us who were too stoned to function at the time, Dan got it all on film.

Most of his photos have never been seen before. Dan in those days was too busy to do anything but shoot them and store them away. Now he has this treasure trove to look through, and he’s finally making them available to the rest of us.

As I pour over these galleries, the memories come back like a tsunami. They will for you too if you were there, or if you only imagined you were, or even if you just wanted to be. These photographs capture memories, but they can make them, too.

It was a time unlike any other and there were indeed a lot of scenes to capture, and stories to be told. Let me tell you just one of them.

When the Stones toured in the summer of 1972, Barry Fey was promoting some of their shows. He’d started out in the business a few years before by putting on a concert of the Byrds at a D.U. fraternity party and thereafter kept getting bigger, both in personal girth and the size of his shows. After the Denver Pop Festival in 1969, he became very big indeed. And, now, success hanging on him like slabs of fat on a roast, he wanted to have the Stones to dinner.

Dan Fong not only was a helluva photographer, he also was a serious chef. He’d grown up in a community of fine Chinese restaurants and this boy knew how to cook.

So Barry hired Dan to cook dinner for the Stones. He’d already done a number of backstage catering jobs at Fey’s concerts, including both of the Stones’ Denver shows, so it was a slam dunk. Mick wanted him so Barry wanted him and that’s the way it was going to be. Barry then partnered up with all the freaks at KFML radio to give the evening some flavor, and before you knew it, it was becoming a rather auspicious event.

Keeping it a secret meant keeping it from the public. In the music business in Denver, everybody knew and everybody wanted to come, but not everybody could.

But then, that’s what being a kingmaker is all about and Very Big Barry doled out the precious invitations as he saw fit. All we could do was to keep the location secret and somehow we did.

About the only way you could squeeze in a friend was to get them a job on the work crew that was going to help Dan Fong with the serving and cleaning. He’d already recruited his family and his friends at Bilotti’s Pizza to help him prep and cook.

So, baby kingmakers that we were, we lined up the best looking girls that we knew to staff the party, figuring those were markers to be redeemed at a later time. I also got my friend Geitz Romo the job as bartender to the stars.

The party was held at Barry’s home in Cherry Hills, which was one of those enormous Jewish modern ranch-style houses on an acre of land on Quincy just east of University. The back yard was scattered with dozens of waist-high, multi-colored paper mache mushrooms. Long low tables were set among them luau like and lanterns provided the light.

The piece de resistance was the Stones’ newly minted lips and tongue logo in a sculpture some 5 feet tall, which was connected to a machine that was supposed to send clouds of bubbles out of the mouth. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctioned and all night long, this gelatinous goo kept pouring out of it, looking like nothing so much as puke.

So, the court gathered in advance of the stars. There was Barry, of course, and Cyndy, his wife at the time. Tall, blond, ice-blue-eyed Jerry Kennedy, the head of Denver’s Vice Squad and Barry’s security crew, was there in his captain’s uniform, keeping tabs, one supposes.

There was Max Floyd of KMYR and Joe McGoey of KFML and assorted other business types that Barry wanted around. And there was Sandy Phelps and Thom Trunnell, Bill Ashford and Judy Roderick, Buffalo Chip and Reno Nevada and Brian the Super Warthog, David Shepardson and Ronnie Katz, Herb Neu and all the rest of the KFML gang, and Marcello Cabus, and me and the girls, and a host of other pseudo-celebrities.

And, behind a wall of grills and ovens, towering flames and truly huge mounds of food, was Dan Fong and his family, cooking their hearts out, while all of us awaited the Rolling Stones.

That night in those long ago times when things took place that today are actually hard to imagine, let alone to believe, Dan Fong cooked and served a 14 course sit down dinner for 100 people. And it was awesome! There was a little of this and a lot of that and oysters and duck and a roast pig the size of a small Mercedes cooked over an open pit. There were intoxicants of every sort, beer and wine, tequila and whiskey, and all sorts of other stuff, too; and there was that most ethereal of drugs: the bending of elbows with real celebrities, the once and future royalty of rock & roll.

You can bet Dan had his trusty camera handy. And somehow, in the midst of the flames and the grease and the chemistry of fine cuisine, he got some incredible shots, as he always did.

The Stones and their entourage arrived fashionably late, but well ahead of dinner. Mick was dressed in a baby blue jacket with feathers that trimmed the collar, the cuffs and the hem, which was cut off at the bottom of his ribs. It covered a sparkling silver shirt of some sort that also bared his midriff. His pants were dark blue tights and his shoes were satin slippers. His eyes were made up with sparkles and mascara. He seemed to be perfectly comfortable.

Keith was a bit out of it in those days and moved through the crowd somnambulistically, supported by two very tall Nordic women who drugged him and dragged him from place to place. Also very tall Mick Taylor was a friendly pile of blond curls, smiling and chatting and as nice as could be. Bill Wyman was sharp-faced, dark and intense, and good ol’ Charlie Watts was just a regular guy.

I was sitting with him on a couch near the window, talking about jazz, and Mick was posing nearby, when Geitz the bartender yelled at me in a very loud voice: “Hey Smooth Dog! Tell that little faggot in the ballerina costume his drink is ready.” Mick barely seemed to notice and smiled at me vaguely when I handed him the glass. Charlie laughed so hard that he fell on the floor.

It was one of those nights that kept unfolding like waves in the ocean, one image lapping in after another. We sat on the lawn at the long luscious tables of food and drink, with the lanterns bouncing light off faces that you knew and faces you only had imagined or seen at a distance or maybe on film. The mushrooms seemed to sway in the glow and the puke kept gurgling from the mouth of the Rolling Stones logo. Beautiful women served platters of indescribably delicious food and looked into your eyes for just a moment as though you were all they ever had dreamed of, and just as quickly they were gone in pursuit of any excuse to get close to Mick.

People that you worked for were passing out in the aisles and others that you barely paid attention to were waxing eloquent. Everybody it seemed got turned around completely and then had to reconfigure their bearings. And everybody went home happy.

Everybody, that is, except Dan. All of us first nighters and all of the staff, those beautiful girls and sharp tongued bartenders, everyone it seemed had wandered off into the night. And Dan Fong was left with a pile of pans and dishes and debris and detritus that defied the imagination of the average man among us. And having no other choice, he spent the night with all the crap and all of his equipment. And the next day, he and a couple of his cousins cleaned it all up, packed it away and took it home.

There among the equipment and the trash was his camera and his bag of lenses and film, and a couple of hundred shots he had taken that night that someday he would develop. The day that followed blended into the next and the next thereafter, and Dan Fong kept shooting pictures of the megastars and the lesser lights and some of the rest of us who peopled the portrait of rock & roll.

It was our story, and it was a helluva story, and all we needed was someone to record it. A good photographer is hard to find and so is Dan Fong. But, lucky you, you’ve found him.

Jim Clancy of KFML

Originally published at

Jim Clancy brings the experience of more than three decades covering the world to every newscast on CNN International. He didn’t just read about the collapse of Communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the siege of Beirut, the Rwanda Genocide, or all of the Iraq wars. He was there.

His career includes reporting on the events that have shaped history over the last quarter century. His interviews with international personalities reads like a “Who’s Who” of our times.

Based at CNN’s world headquarters in Atlanta, Clancy currently anchors ‘The Brief’, which airs weekdays at 11a ET.

In his 29 years with the network, Clancy has taken viewers to places all over the world from Johannesburg, South Africa to Shanghai, China and Beirut, Lebanon. Clancy has hosted several panels featuring some of the world’s most prominent figures including an unprecedented live session in Beijing examining China’s rise on the world stage for ‘CNN Connects.’ In Davos, Switzerland, Arab Heads of State sat alongside an Israeli to hear all sides in the debate over Democracy. While in New Delhi, a vocal audience exchanged strong views with their own politicians and critics of outsourcing jobs from the U.S. to India.

Additionally in 2004, Clancy hosted a discussion forum ‘Countdown to Handover: The Arab Pulse’ in which Arab journalists hotly debated the prospects for peace and stability in Iraq.

Clancy helped lead CNN International’s coverage of the 2003 War in the Gulf that led to the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. During the invasion, his critical examination of the military and humanitarian aspects of the conflict gave viewers an independent, unbiased perspective on the war. A veteran correspondent who has been travelling to Iraq for more than two decades, he brings perspective to the ongoing debate over Iraq’s future.

Inside Iraq, his coverage focused beyond the fall of Saddam Hussein to the looting of the National Museum and the charges of payoffs and power plays that ultimately led to the arrest of a “self-declared Mayor” of Baghdad. His years of experience covering Iraq also contributed to a deeper perspective of what the Iraqi people endured during decades of dictatorship and what their aspirations are for the future.

Following the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, Clancy traveled to Afghanistan to cover the War on Terrorism, meet with Taliban leaders and witness the collapse of their grip on power.

Having lived in Beirut and worked in almost every Arab country, Clancy also has a seasoned understanding of the Middle East. He most recently reported on the conflict between Israel and Lebanon for both CNNI and CNN/U.S. from Beirut. He flew with Yasser Arafat and now Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas aboard Arafat’s private jet. He interviewed Ariel Sharon as he declared control over most of Beirut. He sat alongside Yitzhak Rabin for comments on the future of peace in both on and off-the-record conversations.

Jim Clancy’s wide-ranging interest in international affairs is evident in Africa as much, if not more than anywhere else. Clancy played a key role in bringing the half-hour weekly program ‘Inside Africa’ to air to give the world a more balanced and more accurate view of the problems and the progress being made on the continent.

Clancy has traveled extensively in Africa, meeting and interviewing Heads of State in Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and more. For his work on Inside Africa, he received the A.H. Boerma Award 2000-01 from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for increasing public awareness of hunger in the world.

From 1982 to 1996, Clancy was a CNN international correspondent in the Beirut, Frankfurt, Rome and London bureaus. During this time, he won with the George Polk Award for his reporting on the genocide in Rwanda, the Alfred I. duPont Award for coverage of the war in Bosnia and an Emmy Award for reporting on the famine and international intervention in Somalia.

Jim Clancy joined CNN in 1981 as a national correspondent after an extensive, award-winning career in local radio and television in Denver (KFML) and San Francisco.

KRNW-FM, Boulder

Originally published at


I was having a nostalgia attack one evening and came across your web pages featuring KFML and KRNW. I was a part timer at KRNW from 1971 to 1975. In order to get my foot in the door, I had to agree to work the Monday evening classical programs (the Evening Salon and Evening Concert) for free. Bob Wilkinson, the station owner, was never willing to relinquish the 6-10 PM Monday through Friday time slot for anything other than classical music. While the chamber music and symphonies were on the air, I would listen to all kinds of great modern music on the other turntable.

Eventually, I was able to play whatever I wanted on a Friday evening program from 10 PM to 2 AM. Bob had a wonderful Jazz library and I usually devoted the last hour or two of the program to Jazz. I also substituted for Michael Muirhead quite a few times in the afternoon.

The studio was up the stairs at 1410 Pearl Street in Boulder across from a recording studio. Bob had a stormy relationship with the landlord as well as other business people in Boulder. After a plumbing incident that caused some damage to the hardware store below the studio, we moved to 1428 Pearl Street. This was a newly remodeled building. There was a night club on the top floor. KRNW was on the second floor. About a year or so after the move the station was sold to the KBCO people.

Some of the names of the other announcers were:

Kate Fortin (6-10 AM)
Dave Nettles (the Audio Radiance program)
Russ Mallot
Stan Rheaume
Michael Allbright (on air name was Michael Kow 2-6 AM)
Rick Schultz (went on to KHOW-FM in Denver during their brief foray in to Jazz)
Michael Muirhead (chief announcer)

The weekend people were:

Jason Sherman He was a manger of some kind at Tulagis (a Boulder night club)
Rick Stott He owned a business called Trade a Tape and Records in Boulder
Kenny Weissberg

I could come up with some interesting stories about all the wonderful people involved with KRNW. I also had my own moments of notoriety. Thanks for your efforts devoted to Free Form Radio. I am enclosing Bob Wilkinson’s obituary from several years ago. I don’t remember the person quoted in the obituary. He may have been the classical program announcer. It is possible I had a memory lapse. After all I was one of “those longhairs”.


James Kellogg

Comets volleyball drug Case; Wiretap Evidence Admitted

Originally published in the New York Times, November 14, 1979

GOLDEN, Colo., Nov. 13 — In the closing minutes of a professional volleyball game between the Denver Comets and the Albuquerque Lasers last July 14, the top management of the Denver club was rounded up in a drug raid by the Colorado Organized Crime Strike Force and led from a Denver auditorium in handcuffs. The Comets won the game anyway.

Prosecutors contend that the flamboyant sweep has “severely interrupted,” if not stopped, marijuana traffic in Denver, which state law enforcement officials call the distribution point for marijuana from California to the Mexican border, and from the Middle West to California. ,

By the time the trial started here today, 13 of the 17 defendants arrested in that sweep had pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy counts. Among those pleading guilty were David Casey, the Comets’ board chairman and general manager; his brother, Robert, the team’s president, and Douglas Killingsworth, vice president of the team. According to evidence gathered through wiretaps and from informers in the strike force’s 18‐month investigation, the Caseys were dealing in thousands of pounds of marijuana and sometimes in kilograms of cocaine.

Among those pleading not guilty was Marcello Cabus Jr., 32 years old, of Boulder, Colo. The drug enforcement authorities believe that Mr. Cabus is one of the state’s major marijuana “brokers.”

A crucial factor in the case was the ruling two weeks ago by District Judge Anthony Vollack that wiretap evidence central to the prosecution’s case was admissible evidence.Continue reading

“Of course you never know until the judge rules,” said Alan R. Beckman, an Assistant Attorney General who is trying the case with Robert Nathan, director of the Colorado Strike Force, “but I have been prosecuting for five years now here and in Miami and this is the cleanest wiretap I’ve ever seen. We opened all our files to the defense. There was nothing to hide.”

More than 780 telephone conversations between mid‐March and mid‐May this year were taped at the Comets’ office in Denver and at the homes of Robert Casey and Mr. Killingworth. Lawyers on both sides say the tapes are extremely damaging.

Inquiry Called ‘Operation Spike’

The prosecutors allege that the Caseys supplied dealers who distributed marijuana throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana. They also allegedly supplied major dealers in British Columbia.

Members of the strike force called their investigation “Operation Spike,” after the move in volleyball in which a player smashes the ball straight down into his opponent’s court. The strike force had Comets T‐shirts made with “Operation Spike” on the back.

David Casey is said to have been regarded as a dynamic and serious young businessman with a good reputation in the International Volleyball Association. Last spring he sponsored a Comets exhibition game in Central City to raise money for a new school there.

But one player in the association said he had heard rumors about drugs and the Caseys. “I think it was fairly common knowledge around the league,” he said.

Most of those who pleaded guilty have pleaded to felonies. Sentencing is scheduled for January, but Mr. Beckman said the state reserved the right to claim “aggravating circumstances” in five of those cases, including those of Robert and David Casey and Mr. Killingsworth. The defendants could serve between four and eight years.

DIRTY DEALING: An American Parable

“We were a good family—that’s what people forget,” Joe Chagra said, “It was the money. You can’t know what it does until it happens to you…until everyone is chin-deep in millions of dollars.”

Dirty Dealing, a true story, chronicles the rise and fall of the house of Chagra. The Chagra brothers of El Paso were pioneers in smuggling drugs across the Mexican border, and were infamous for their fabulous wealth. But in the end Lee Chagra was gunned down, a federal judge was assassinated, Jimmy and Joe Chagra were imprisoned, and Charles Harrelson (Woody Harrelson’s father) was convicted for Wood’s murder.

When Federal Judge John “Maximum” Wood was gunned down outside his home in San Antonio, Texas in 1979 (the only assassination of a federal judge in more than 100 years) his death sent waves of shock across the country. The FBI labeled it “the crime of the century.” Former President Nixon expressed “outrage,” calling for quick arrest and punishment. But the crime’s solution would be anything but quick. Dragging on for years and costing $11.4 million, the investigation turned out to be the largest in recent FBI history, surpassing even that of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Gary Cartwright, senior editor of Texas Monthly and author of several nonfiction bestsellers, details the full history of the events leading up to this crime and the trials that followed in Dirty Dealing. This reprint from Cinco Puntos Press includes a new afterword by the author and black and white photographs of all the players. Complete with shady maneuverings on the part of the federal government and an outcome that Kirkus Reviews has called “straight from Oz,” Dirty Dealing is one of the richest and most fascinating of all true crime stories.

From the Author, Gary Cartwright:

I don’t claim much of a literary background. The town where I grew up (Arlington, Texas) had a tiny library above the fire station. The first writer who truly impressed me and caused me to wonder if there was something out there for me was Hemingway. For a long time I tried to emulate his clean, crisp style and feeling for life and death.

I was going pretty well with Hemingway when I got sidetracked by Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, at which time I lapsed into my Purple Period. Nelson Algren’s Walk on the Wildside-I think I read some Conrad about the same time-got me out of the stench of lyrical, overripe nonsense and back in the dust where I belonged. Somewhere in there I read Robert Stone’s A Hall of Mirrors, and later Dog Soldiers, and began to understand that a writer’s true function was storytelling.

Like a lot of writers my age, my head was turned by reading J.D. Salinger, though I didn’t understand him. I came to prefer William Goldman, who wrote more to my level and with a skill I could appreciate and borrow from. I know it’s popular in literary circles to dismiss Goldman as a hack-gone-Hollywood, but I wish I had his gift as a storyteller.

In recent years I have fallen in love with such mystery writers as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and John LeCarre. There is something cynical and laconic in the way these writers weave a story, as though to say life really has no resolution, it’s just one damn thing after another but worthwhile if it’s done right.

Two books that influenced my own works were David Storey’s This Sporting Life, which I read shortly before beginning The Hundred-Year War; and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which was the inspiration for my two latest books, Blood Will Tell and Dirty Dealing. I am fascinated by this genre and have come to recognize that life imitating art is every bit as literate as art imitating life.

In a way I can’t quite explain, Dirty Dealing was influenced, too, by John Reed’s Insurgent Mexico. Reed got across a feeling for how the isolation of desert wastelands gives both a meaning and a meaninglessness to life, and how codes within cultures are more permanent than laws within nations.