STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
“Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution” features 200 objects from the Graham family, and from lenders across the country.
Among the many notable events that Graham organized during his career was the U.S. Live Aid concert at the former JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Unique to the presentation of the exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History are Live Aid memorabilia from Horsham collector David Poley.
“I’ve been to, I don’t know, maybe 3,000 concerts in my life. That was the best concert I ever saw — that and the 9/11 concert in New York,” he said.
Items from what’s officially titled The David and Alexandra Poley Collection (Alexandra is his daughter) are a guitar pick guard autographed by David Bowie and Mick Jagger, who recorded a duet cover of “Dancing in the Street” for the Ethiopian famine relief cause; a microphone signed by Ozzy Osbourne, who for the occasion of Live Aid reunited with Black Sabbath for the first time since going solo in the ‘80s; a mint-condition T-shirt with the Live Aid Africa-shaped guitar logo; a program booklet and Poley’s ticket stub.
“I wish they could’ve taken more,” Poley said, recalling the visit he got from Josh Perelman, the chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections of the NMAJH.
“I have like 150, or so, autographed guitars. It’s put together like a Hard Rock Cafe,” he said, offering a tease of the scope of his music memorabilia collection.
The Live Aid section display also includes a group photo of Keith Richards, Daryl Hall, John Oates, Ron Wood, Tina Turner, Jagger (who infamously tore off Turner’s leather miniskirt on stage while the two sang together), and the unusual sight of Madonna and Bob Dylan with an arm around each other’s shoulders. There’s also a backstage photo at Live Aid of Graham and actor Jack Nicholson, with a handwritten note of appreciation from the actor.
Poley felt honored after getting a sneak peek at the entire exhibit. “They have my stuff displayed along with Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix and The Grateful Dead!,” he said. “(Bill Graham) was one of the reasons I became a collector.”
Besides lending the collection pieces to the Bill Graham exhibit, he shared another connection that he has to the NMAJH. “My father landscaped the original museum (location). He was a very proud Jew, my father,” Poley said.