January 25, 1934 – December 18, 2011
Warren Hellman was a successful private equity investor whose Hellman & Friedman rose to become a multi-billion dollar firm. He was also a philanthropist and music junkie who founded AND funded San Francisco’s popular Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. A banjo player himself, Hellman launched the Golden Gate Park event in 2001 to an audience of just 13,000. Since then, it has swelled to be one of the world’s greatest music events, drawing as many 500,000 each year over two days. And the best part, it is FREE to attend as Hellman’s gift back to the city. The inaugural festival presented just four acts on the main stage and another five on its second. Performers included Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Hazel Dickens. The 2011 event hosted over 100 performers including Chris Isaak, Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Steve Earle, Robert Plant, and Del McCoury. Warren Hellman was 77 when he died from complications of leukemia on December 18, 2011. Hellman reportedly left a trust fund to finance future festivals.
Do yourself a favor and attend Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival next year!