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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass founder, Warren Hellman, dies

Monday, December 19, 2011 – Warren Hellman, founder of the popular Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and member of The Wronglers, died at 77 in San Francisco on Sunday after battling leukemia.

"Musicians and music lovers have lost a truly good friend," said Jimmie Dale Gilmore, a member of The Wronglers. "Warren's boundless enthusiasm, humor and generosity added up to an enormous gift for thousands of people. He and I were kindred spirits when it came to music, and I feel extremely fortunate to have known and worked with him."

Hellman, who made his money in investing, met Gilmore during in 2002, the second year of what was then known as The Strictly Bluegrass Festival. The two men shared a love of early American folk and bluegrass music and in early 2011, they released "The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Heirloom Music."

Originally started by Hellman as a music-lover's gift to his city the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival has come to be appreciated world-wide. Last year, the free to the public festival attracted more than 750,000 people over 3 days, and showcased such a diverse lineup as The Flatlanders (with Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Gilmore), Steve Earle, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, John Mellencamp, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Robert Plant and Emmylou Harris.

Last week, the city of San Francisco renamed Speedway Meadow, the site of the festival, Hellman's Hollow. Hellman also established a trust that will allow the continuation of the Hardly Strictly Festival for years to come.

He was also a backer of Slim's and the Great American Music Hall venues in San Francisco, and a major donor to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, Cal.

Hellman headed Lehman Brothers in New York before moving back home to San Francisco and opening a money management business, Hellman & Friedman, one of the country's most successful private equity funds.

"Impish and informal, the wiry Mr. Hellman was something of a free spirit," wrote The New York Times. "With his frayed khakis and cowboy shirts, Mr. Hellman stood in stark contrast to his more buttoned-down private equity peers."

Born on July 25, 1934 in Manhattan, Hellman grew up in San Francisco and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. Following graduation from Harvard Business School in 1959, he joined Lehman Brothers, where he quickly earned a respected reputation as an aggressive and fiercely competitive dealmaker, earning the nickname, Hurricane Hellman. He became the youngest partner in the firm's history at the age of 26, and in 1973, at the age of 39, he became president.

He remained at Lehman Brothers until 1977, when he moved to Boston and turned his attention to investing. One of his early firms, now called Matrix Brothers, was an early backer of Apple Computers.

In 1984, he returned to San Francisco and along with Tully Friedman began Hellman & Friedman.

Hellman is survived by his wife of 56 years, Chris, and his four children, Mick, Tricia Gibbs, Frances Hellman and Judith Hellman; 12 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.

CD reviews for The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Heirloom Music CD review - Heirloom Music
From the dawn of his storied career, Texas singer/songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore has sprinkled his set lists with songs that comprised the soundscape of his childhood. As he grew, artistically and personally, Gilmore began learning even more about the music of the generation that preceded him and becoming even more enamored of the material that guided and informed his own unique hybridization of folk, country and blugrass. And yet, even as Gilmore's repertoire of old time songs expanded, he »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: LSD tour provides a lot of highs – This was not your grandkids' country, that's for sure. Even the name of the tour - the LSD Tour - was a throwback (albeit far before the principals were making music). But make no mistake about it. With the ever cool country traditionalist Dwight Yoakam, the country with some rock and blues and rabble rousing of Steve Earle thrown in and the... »»»
Concert Review: Alvin, Gilmore fortunately get together – Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore had known each other for decades, but it wasn't until last year that they toured together in a guitar pull setting. What started as a small Texas tour mushroomed into points east and west and eventually the release earlier this month of their blues-based disc, "Downey to Lubbock." And now we have the... »»»
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