Life Is Wasted on the Young


We finally spotted Woz and waved to get his attention. He came over to us, looking happy and excited.

“Do you guys want to introduce a band? Which one? I’ve got it worked out with Bill Graham so my friends can introduce their favorite band if they want to. We still have plenty of slots left.”

I was intrigued, since one of my favorite groups, the Kinks, were scheduled for Saturday afternoon. But getting up on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people sounded utterly terrifying to me. I declined, but then I noticed that Burrell [Smith]’s eyes had lit up and he was very excited.

“Santana? Can I introduce Santana? That would be so cool…” Carlos Santana was one of Burrell’s favorite guitarists.

Woz pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and checked it. “OK, Santana is still open,” he told Burrell. “I’ve got you down for introducing Santana. Meet me here backstage, after Eddie Money finishes tomorrow and I’ll show you what to do.” Santana was the third act scheduled for Saturday, after Dave Edmunds and Eddie Money.

That evening, when we got back to the camper, Burrell wrote a brilliant short, sweet and humorous introduction of Santana to use the next day, and started to memorize it by reading it aloud. It was all he could talk about until we made our way backstage early on Saturday morning. Burrell waited expectantly until Woz showed up. He read Woz his introduction, which Woz really liked.

Woz led Burrell up onto the stage, trying to find Bill Graham to introduce him to Burrell and tell him about the upcoming Santana intro. But lots of people wanted to talk with Woz, and he got distracted, leaving Burrell alone on stage for a few minutes, just as Bill Graham appeared, looking pissed off as usual.

Bill Graham took one look at Burrell and grimaced. “Who the #$*! are you? What are you doing on the goddamn stage?”

Burrell explained that he was a friend of Woz’s and was waiting onstage to introduce Santana. He pulled out his notes for the introduction from his pocket and waved them for Bill Graham to see.

“Sure you are,” Bill Graham responded sarcastically. ” I’m going to introduce Santana. And you’re gonna get the #%$*! off the stage right now, this instant!”

Burrell looked around for Woz but couldn’t spot him. He started to argue but stopped short when he saw how furious Bill Graham became.

Bill Graham motioned to one of his ubiquitous bodyguards, a huge guy with long hair and tatoos covering his forearms. “Please escort this gentleman from the premises”, he ordered peremptorily, “and don’t let him return!” The bodyguard literally picked Burrell up off the ground by the back of his shirt collar and carried him off the stage and then completely out of the backstage area.

That was the last we saw of Burrell for the next six hours and we wondered what had happened to him. Finally, he reappeared just before Tom Petty started the final set of the day. Bill Graham’s thug had dragged him outside the festival gates and confiscated his gold pass. Burrell didn’t know what to do, but eventually he obtained another gold pass by walking a few miles to the house that Woz had rented for the weekend. Woz was sorry about what had transpired and asked Burrell if he wanted to try again on Sunday to introduce another band, but this time Burrell was wary and quickly declined. In fact, he had had enough of the US Festival and persuaded Bill and me to drive back home early on Sunday morning without attending the last day of shows.


([Sergey] Brin’s lack of baseball knowledge was typical; his ignorance of popular culture was legendary. Once he asked a colleague if he had ever heard of a musician named Carlos San-tain-a; Brin had been asked to introduce him at a concert. “Sergey,” the Googler said, “everyone knows who Carlos Santana is.” “I’ll just say he needs no introduction,” said Brin.)