Back Stage Passes


Occasionally Steve Kahn gave me back stage passes and asked me to provide libations to loosen up bands…  I had never seen Queen performed and the japanese are very sedate. The band must have realized that and played their hearts out, becoming one of my all time favorite shows. 

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

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

Denver police Captain Jerry Kennedy on the time Elvis bought him a Lincoln Mark IV

Originally published at

Elvis Presley’s generosity is almost as legendary as his sideburns and white jumpsuits. Case in point: Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy, who received a brand new Lincoln Mark IV courtesy of The King. Kennedy first met Presley through the DPD, when the former was in charge of running the department’s off-duty operations and The King needed security when he came to town. Presley himself had wanted to be a policeman from the time he was a kid.

Presley, who recorded his first single (“That’s Alright Mama”) when he was nineteen, was clearly on a career path that would make it impossible to follow through with his law enforcement aspirations. More hit singles followed, and then the films, the groupies and everything else that made Elvis, well, Elvis. By the time the singer befriended Kennedy and other local officers in the early 1970s, he had vast reserves of money and an unquestionable flair for eccentricity. So what does a mega-pop star do once he’s bought everything there is to buy? Elvis might answer: attempt to turn a childhood dream into reality.

That’s why he liked to surround himself with officers — Kennedy, Bob Pietrafeso and Bob Cantwell, chief among them. At one point, Elvis even had a double-breasted police coat made for himself by a tailor on 14th Street. He loved carrying a pistol and had cop-themed jewelry (including a gold police badge). No doubt, Presley loved the law enforcement look.

The Lincoln came about, in typical Elvis fashion, as the result of a series of spontaneous decisions. To hear Kennedy tell it, Elvis was sitting at home in Memphis one night, watching television with his road manager, Joe Esposito. He saw snow skiing on some channel and said he wanted to go to Aspen. And, just like that, Presley was on a plane headed to Denver.

Kennedy and other officers joined Elvis and Esposito for their winter vacation in the mountains, winding up in a posh rental house in Vail. Kennedy and his fellow officers wound up spending ten days with The King, and, by all indications, they had a blast. Near the end of Presley’s stay, he asked Kennedy what kind of car he drove. “I said I got an Audi Fox,” Kennedy recalls. “He said, ‘I wanna buy you a car like mine. I’ll get you a Lincoln.'”

It was that easy. Presley asked Kennedy if he knew of any Lincoln dealerships in Denver, and he mentioned the Kumph Motor Car Company, formerly at 8th and Broadway. Kennedy called the dealership and asked if they had any brand new models in stock. They had a royal blue Mark IV that was part of the Bill Blass designer series. Kennedy said he’d take it. True to his word, Elvis wrote a personal check for the car, paying $13,386.69 for the new ride. “He said his dad would shit his pants when he saw the canceled check for this,” Kennedy recalls. (Presley’s father Vernon had been handling his son’s finances by 1976.)

Presley bought other cars for other friends and girlfriends, including a number of Cadillacs. Kennedy kept his for twenty years, selling it, finally, in 1996 to the Tupelo Automobile Museum. Kennedy sold it for the same price as what Elvis paid — $13,300 — and hasn’t regretted it at all. “It’s in a better place now,” he says.

Denver cops were all shook up because of King of Rock ‘n Roll’s lavish generosity

Originally published at

Elvis Presley and Denver Police Chief George L. Seaton. Presley donated money for the construction of gym at 35th and Colorado. Here, he is receiving his honorary police badge from Chief Seaton on Nov. 17, 1970. Photo by Bill Smith, Courtesy of the Denver Police Department.

When you think of Elvis, you think Sun Records to Graceland in Memphis, the Tupelo hill country of his boyhood, the neon lights of the Vegas Strip. But the snowy slopes of Colorado? Think again. In the 1970s, John Denver might have had Colorado Rocky Mountain high, but the King of Rock ‘n Roll held court over Denver’s law enforcement community. He did pretty well as he pleased from the mountains to the city streets.

His generosity was legendary and, after his drug-related death, controversial for the Denver Police Department. Elvis was a fan of law enforcement. Besides at least two badges he wielded in Denver, he was an honorary chief deputy for the sheriff’s department for Memphis and a “federal agent at large” for Richard Nixon. In Denver, he showered gifts — Cadillacs, expensive jewelry, lavish ski vacations — on Denver police administrators and detectives, including narcotics investigators, a Denver Post investigation in 1982 found.

Elvis handed out gold necklaces as freely as if they were Mardi Gras throws. “Everyone was wearing them there for a time,” an unnamed police source told Denver Post reporter Jack Taylor 30 years ago. All the necklaces included a lightning bolt and the letters TCB, or Takin’ Care of Business, fat Elvis’ motto and the name of his band. The friendships took off after Denver cops provided security for show in 1970, according to accounts.

The necklaces alone — hardly the extent of The King’s gifts — were estimated to be worth $700 to $800 each in 1976, back when the average monthly rent was $220 and a home cost less than $13,000. He was also rumored to have taken officers on “blank check” shopping sprees.

In 1970, Presley stroked a check for $5,500 to outfit a police officers gymnasium at East 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Police Chief George L. Seaton gave him a badge in front of a police photographer.

Art Dill, who succeeded Seaton in 1972, formed an even closer relationship with Presley, later giving The King a badge and a captain’s uniform. Dill refused a Cadillac — “No way, I’m the chief of police,” he reportedly told The King. He later accepted a a World War I-vintage Colt .45 pistol.

In 1982, the state Senate Judiciary Committee called Dill to testify about the gifts. Dill had made a name for himself in the department in 1961, leading an internal affairs investigation into a cop-run burglary ring. He brought 50 officers to justice.

Dill told senators the gifts officers accepted were “morally wrong,” but not illegal. He said he paid for a badge and uniform he gave Presley with his own money. Dill said he did not know why Presley gave him the valuable pistol, or why the showman gave the gifts he gave to other officers. The next year, Dill retired.

It was alleged but never proven that Presley was allowed to go on a drug raid with Denver cops, and Elvis famously wore his Denver police uniform to go out in public incognito, even once attending a funeral in Colorado in DPD dress blues.

At other times, Presley kept an even lower Colorado profile. Sources told the Post 30 years ago that he woe a ski mask on the slopes at Vail. Stories abound about rowdy nights on borrowed ski mobiles. He was allegedly once reported by Susan Ford, President Ford’s 18-year-old daughter.

In his 1991 book, “The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley,” author David Adler tells of Elvis making up his mind in the Jungle Room at Graceland, while entertaining two Denver cops, to take an immediate flight back to Denver to have the best sandwich he’d ever enjoyed, the Fool’s Gold Loaf at the Colorado Mine Company restaurant in Glendale.

“Before the lawmen knew what was happening they were seated inside Elvis’ stretch Mercedes along with another couple of Elvis’ buddies, and whisked to the Memphis airport,” Adler writes.”Elvis’ personal jet, the Lisa Marie, was waiting for them on the tarmac. As the four jet engines roared for takeoff, the excitement inside the plane revved even higher as Elvis and his guests were about to be flown the two hours to Denver for Elvis’ favorite sandwich, the most mouthwatering sandwich known to the King.”

He concluded the tale, “Elvis’ plane touched down at 1:40 a.m. at Stapleton Airport and taxied to a private hangar. The owner of the restaurant personally brought Elvis and his party the order on silver trays. For two hours in the Denver night, the feasting went on. It was typical of Elvis’ generosity that he insisted that the plane’s pilots, Milo High and Elwood Davis, join the fun.”