Jim Irsay, Owner & CEO of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, exhibited items from The Jim Irsay Collection – his renowned assemblage of historic and iconic artifacts from rock music, American history, and pop culture – in San Francisco on Saturday night. Featured as part of the evening was the all-star Jim Irsay Band, featuring special guests, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Stephen Stills, Buddy Guy, John Fogerty, and Ann Wilson at the historic Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.
The band started with Irsay's take on the classic Springsteen hit, "Born to Run" and covered a plethora of Rock and Roll's iconic standards including "The Chain," "You're No Good," "Comfortably Numb" and more. Wilson of Heart fame sang Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and more while Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame rocked out on "Carry On" and "For What It's Worth." Fogerty performed a six song set of some of his biggest hits and Buddy Guy brought the Blues to San Francisco with "Damn Right I've Got the Blues" and more of his iconic songs. Perhaps Irsay's most resonant performance of the night was his take on Johnny Cash / Nine Inch Nail's "Hurt."
Irsay, who is renowned for his generosity over his 50-plus year career in the NFL, donated $25,000 each to San Francisco-based charities Project Night Night and Ohlhoff House Addiction Recovery. Project Night Night donates tens of thousands of "Night Night Packages" each year to children 12 and under experiencing homelessness who need childhood essentials to have a concrete and predictable source of security and an increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials during their time of upheaval. The mission of Ohlhoff Recovery Programs is to provide the highest quality of treatment services for the disease of chemical dependency, empowering individuals and families to take responsibility for their own recovery. In addition, the attendees of the San Francisco event collectively donated more than $23,000 to the Indianapolis Colts' Kicking the Stigma initiativeand the Kicking The Stigma Action Grants, which support nonprofits working in education, support and advocacy of mental health.
“I’m thrilled we were able to bring our free exhibition and show to such an important and historic city like San Francisco,” Irsay said. “As I’ve always said, I started this collection to bring people together in the spirit of music and history and inspire them to do great things in life, so my goal is to share it with as many as possible. And to hold our event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, one of the iconic venues in the world, made the evening even more special.”
Irsay and his tour were featured by the New York Times in a profile on Friday, preceding the San Francisco event: "While other N.F.L. owners sail on their yachts far from prying eyes, Jim Irsay roams the country showing his museum-quality memorabilia and jamming with rock legends."
The Jim Irsay Band, led by Irsay on vocals, is a collection of iconic band members in their own right including Kenny Aronoff on drums (Sir Paul McCartney, John Mellencamp, The Rolling Stones, Sting, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson), Billy Branch on harmonica, Tom Bukovac on guitar (played on more than 700 albums with major artists), Mike Mills on bass and vocals (founding member of R.E.M.), Danny Nucci on guitar and saxophone (actor from Titanic, The Rock), Carmella Ramsey on violin, mandolin and vocals (Reba McEntire, John Hiatt, Olivia Newton-John), Michael Ramos on keyboards (Mellencamp, Los Lonely Boys, Patti Griffin, Paul Simon), Denny Seiwell on drums (founding member of Wings), Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar and vocals (five-time GRAMMY® nominated) and Mike Wanchic on guitar (Mellencamp).
More than 30 iconic guitars were on display as part of The Jim Irsay Collection, as well as an array of other music memorabilia, including:
Jerry Garcia "Tiger" guitar (Doug Irwin/1979);
David Gilmour "The Black Strat" Fender Stratocaster (1969);
Janis Joplin Gibson J-45 (1953);
Eric Clapton "MTV Unplugged" C.F. Martin & Co. Style 000-42 Guitar (1939);
Bob Dylan "Dylan Goes Electric" Fender Stratocaster (1964);
Prince "Yellow Cloud" guitar by Andy Beech (1995);
Kurt Cobain “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Fender Mustang (1969);
John Lennon “Sgt. Peppers Piano”, c.1869 John Broadwood & Sons;
Sir Elton John's Steinway & Sons Model D Grand Piano;
Bob Dylan's working lyrics for "The Times They Are A-Changin';"
Paul McCartney's studio lyrics for "Hey Jude;"
The Beatles / Ringo Starr drum set and original bass drum head from The Ed Sullivan Show; and
Jim Morrison Paris notebook.
Outside of music, the collection displayed included such historic items as:
The original 1777 Continental Congress proclamation designating Thanksgiving as a national holiday;
An 1823 William J. Stone printing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first exact “facsimiles” of the final signed document;
Artifacts and signed documents from numerous U.S. Presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and others;
An original reward poster for John Wilkes Booth issued the morning after President Lincoln's April,1865 assassination;
Handwritten documents and artifacts from women’s suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony;
The original hand-notated manuscript for Alcoholics Anonymous’ “Big Book,” the organization’s founding document;
Renowned American author Jack Kerouac’s original 119-foot scroll of the iconic novel, “On the Road”;
A Jackie Robinson game-used bat from 1953;
Muhammad Ali’s 1965 first walkout robe that bore his new name and boxing shoes from the 1975 “Thrilla’ in Manilla” vs. Joe Frazier; and
Sylvester Stallone’s original handwritten outline and screenplay for “Rocky.”