Andy Warhol in San FranciscoAccording to Popism, written by Pat Hacket from interviews with Warhol and independent research, the San Francisco scene was considerably down-market considering what was going on in New York.
The Velvet Undeground's Sterling Morrisson recalled that they built the light show, not Bill Graham.
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in Popism):
"The San Francisco scene was bands and audiences grooving together... whereas the Velvets' style was to alienate people... 'They call this a light show?' Paul said, looking at the stage during the Airplane's act...'I'd rather sit and watch a clothes dryer in the laundromat'..."
The end came when we were all standing around in the back of the Fillmore watching some local band onstage. Paul was continuing the same type of LSD put-down commentary that he'd been making all day - comments that were really rubbing Graham the wrong way. 'Why don't they take heroin?' Paul suggested, pointing to the group on stage. 'That's what all the really good musicians take...' He took a tangerine out of his pocket and peeled it in one motion, letting the peels fall on the floor. 'With heroin you never catch cold - it started in the United States as a cure for the common cold.'
Paul was saying everything he could think of to offend Bill Graham's San Francisco sensibility, but in the end it was dropping the tangerine peels on the Fillmore floor... that brought the showdown... Graham stared down at the peels, and he got livid... he started yelling things like 'You disgusting germs from New York! Here we are, trying to clean up everything, and you come out here with your disgusting minds and whips!' Things along that line." (POP)
"We actually built the light show at the Fillmore Auditorium. Bill Graham didn't, nor did any San Francisco entrepreneur. When we showed up Graham had a slide projector with a picture of the moon. We said, 'That's not a light show, Bill, sorry.' That's one of the reasons that Graham really hates us... Marshall McLuhan gave us credit for inventing the light show in 'The Medium is the Message'... It was nice of him... I'd never heard of Bill Graham... I just thought he was an insane slob, totally beneath my abilities to observe. He just didn't exist as far as I was concerned. An absolute nonentity... The day I arrived at this club, I was thrown out. I just walked in with my guitar and he said, 'You, get out of here.' They told him, 'You've lost your mind, he's playing here tonight.' He said, 'Get out, get out you s.o.b.' I wish I had... Graham made so much money that weekend we played at the Fillmore, that he didn't believe it... We arrived at a time before Jefferson Airplane was known to anyone. They didn't even have Grace Slick yet. Everyone was nowhere at the time, The Mothers and, of course, ourselves. Warhol was the name that made the impact with the public." (UT71-2)