to him, just before he gave his speech,that I thought my grandparents camefrom the same part of Poland thathe had emigrated from. I told himthat they had changed the name to anAmerican sounding one, and he toldme “Yeah, when I got here, I did thesame thing. My name was WolfgangGrjonski, and I stupidly gave up thiswonderfully colorful name for a noth-ing name like Bill Graham.”
Mimi had a fewpretty good al- bums, but her realclaim to fame wassimply being JoanBaez’s youngersister. I went outto dinner with herafter a show, andshe wrote on thepaper table cloth,
You can’t decide howto die. You can only decide how to live.
I carried that in my wallet for yearsand years, till it ﬁnally fell apart.She once did a few songs at a Festivalat the Greek Theater, and her mom(“Big Joan”) and her sister came to seeher perform. I took a picture of Mimi,her sister, Joan Baez and their motherall sitting on the ﬂoor back stage, ina kind of circle, talking among them-selves. Someday I’ll have to see if Istill have it somewhere.
Ian and Silvia:
On stage at Zellerbach, they seemedlike the perfect couple, but back stage,they were really hostile to each other.Not too long after their performancethey got divorced, and that was theend of Ian and Silvia.
He stood me up.More accurately,he stood up a fewthousand peopleat Zellerbach Hall.I kept gettingphone calls thathe was at his hotelgetting dressedand would be over in few minutes.So I went ahead and started the showwith the warm-up act. When he didn’tshow, I started getting worried. With agrowingly impatient audience, I ﬁnallyannounced that the show was can-celled and people could get refundsthe following day. Just after doing so, his wife came outof nowhere and started screaming atme, telling me that he was over at theStudent Union and ready to performand why did I cancel the show. I wentover there, and she showed me which bathroom he was in, and there he was,his shirt off, splashing water on hisface, and scratching his chest wildly.He was just another junkie strung outon heroin. A few years later, he died ofan overdose.
He was known as the father of PeteSeeger, but he was famous as a musi-cologist in his own right. As I recall,he was a professor at UCLA. His otherson, Mike Seeger, and his daughter,Peggy McEwen, were both professionalmusicians like their more famous brother Pete. I once asked Prof. Seegerhow that came to be. His answer was “Inever allowed a radio or a phonographin the house when they were growingup. I told them that if they wantedto hear music, they’d have to maketheir own.”
She had writtensome songs buthadn’t yet putout an album. Norhad she ever per-formed at any-thing bigger thana coffee house. As a result, she wasterriﬁed of going on stage. She askedif we could have a piano on stage soshe could play her ﬁrst song sittingdown.When she ﬁnally stood up and sangwith her guitar, I could see her shaking.The show was at Zellerbach, and evenhalf full, it must have looked cavern-ous and intimidating to her.We went out for something to eat afterher show, and she was just incrediblyrelieved that the performance was over.She couldn’t stop talking about it.
Sonny & Brownie:
When they wereon stage, these twowould laugh, jokewith each other,and look like theywere best friends.Off stage, Browniewas always puttingSonny down, mak-ing fun of him, andcriticizing him. Sonny would prettymuch ignore the insults, but occasion-ally he’d mutter under his breath whata jerk Brownie was.Actually, he didn’t use the word jerk.
Robert Pete Williams:
Pete had just been released from An-gola Prison Farm, I think for murder,and he stayed at my apartment for sev-eral days. One afternoon, I was show-ing him around campus, and, becauseI had some class to go to, I suggestedhe head back to my place.When I got there, he was standing outfront, having obviously wet his pants.“Pete, there are about a million restau-rants and hotels between campus andmy place. Why didn’t you stop in oneof them and use the bathroom?” Hisanswer still saddens me. “Golly, Mr. Joe. I couldn’t go into no white man’srestaurant to use a bathroom.” Thiswas 1968 or 1969, and the Civil Rightslaws had only been passed a few yearsearlier.They obviously were not being com-plied with back in Louisiana where hewas from.
Big Mama Thornton:
Willie Mae Thorn-ton sang a songwith the lyrics“They call meBig Mama, ‘causeI weigh 300pounds.” She real-ly did weigh thatmuch. She carriedit on a 6 - 4 frame.