Nicholas Clainos draft

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Nicholas Clainos was born on May 10th, 1946, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The son of an army officer, Nicholas traveled globally prior to being raised in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Lowell High School (San Francisco) in 1964, Princeton University in 1968, and Stanford Law School in 1971.

In 1972, Clainos opened one of the first entertainment law practices in the United States. He represented musical artists, including War (American band)|War, David Rubinson, The Pointer Sisters, Jefferson Airplane, and rock impresario, Bill Graham (promoter)|Bill Graham. Commencing what would be a lifelong close friendship and business partnership with Graham, Nicholas worked as an in-house counsel for Bill Graham Presents (BGP). He was later President of, and partner in, BGP – which promoted virtually every concert event in northern California and several music festivals, including the US Festival with Steve Wozniak, Live Aid, and Day on the Green|Days on the Green, and toured the Grateful Dead in the Western United States. Eventually, Bill Graham Presents promoted throughout the western United States and New York.

Clainos built a successful artist management company that represented Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, The Neville Brothers, Eddie Money, Blues Traveler, Gin Blossoms, and Train (band)|Train. Clainos also produced the film The Doors (film)|The Doors with Oliver Stone. Graham and Clainos prompted criticism from Led Zeppelin fans around the world in 1978, after John Bonham|Jon Bonham and manager, Peter Grant (music manager)|Peter Grant, assaulted two Graham employees at an outdoor show. Clainos had Bonham and Grant arrested and convicted of assault and battery. Led Zeppelin canceled their tour and never worked in the United States again.

After Bill Graham’s death in a helicopter accident in 1991, Clainos served as the executor and trustee of Graham’s estate[1], co-purchased the company, and eventually sold it[2] to SFX Entertainment (1997-2000)|SFX Entertainment, which in turn sold the company to Clear Channel Entertainment. After the sale, Clainos was instructed to change the company name from Bill Graham Presents to Clear Channel Entertainment. Clainos, who had kept control of the board, refused and thereafter left the company. Eventually, ClearChannel separated itself from concert promotion and formed Live Nation Entertainment|Live Nation, which is managed by many former Clear Channel executives.

In 2010, two of Graham’s three sons sued close business associates of Graham, including Clainos, on the belief that various archival posters had been owned by Graham, personally, and not Bill Graham Presents which was acquired by Clainos and Partners. The sons alleged the defendants knew the company didn’t own the posters but hid this fact from the sons. The legal action became well known in the legal world as it persisted for 10 years and tallied an estimated $10,000,000 in legal fees for the sons, an amount well beyond the value of the posters. The suit was dismissed on its face five times[3][3] and the sons finally applied for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was denied without discussion.

Upon fulfillment of his contract with ClearChannel, Clainos advised several cities on constructing and operating entertainment venues but later shifted his attention toward a film production company which he founded with screenwriter and director, Guillermo Arriaga, whose credits include Babel (film)|Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores perros|Amores Perros. Shortly after the contested split of Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro González Iñárritu|Alejandro Inarritu, Clainos formed AC Films with Arriaga which provided completion financing and developed several independent projects such as Old School (novel)|Old School from Tobias Wolff, The Motel Life|Motel Life from Willy Vlautin, and The Night Buffalo from Arriaga’s novel.

Presently, Nicholas is retired, but for his involvement in a cannabis cultivation company, Boonville Farm. He resides in Kittery, Maine with his wife, Cynthia.


  1. Selvin, Joe (April 4, 1995). "BILL GRAHAM'S TANGLED LEGACY / Battle Over Rock Impressario's Riches". SF Gate.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Hatfield, Larry D. (December 16, 1997). "Bill Graham Presents Is Sold". SF Gate.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Speer, Deborah (April 9, 2012). "Bill Graham's Sons Lose Suit". Pollstar.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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