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The Big 4-0-0

How the East Bay has changed—and stayed the same—over 400 issues of Diablo.


This is the 400th issue of Diablo magazine—gulp. What a great excuse to comb the archives and recall our most fun, controversial, and buzz-worthy stories. Here are some highlights.


Greg Silva1979:  Diablo Country launches on newsprint and is distributed around the East Bay, including to all 75 units in the one-year-old Blackhawk development, where the average home sells for $225,000.

May 1985: Entertainment entrepreneur Bill Graham makes the cover, with a story about the Concord Pavilion’s successful first decade. Six years later, Graham dies in a helicopter crash leaving the Pavilion.

December 1986: Diablo Country’s Fabulous Food Issue depicts a local chef biting into a loaf of garlic bread. Area dining scene improves considerably over the next 27 years.

April 1987: Now called Diablo, the magazine features a contentious interview with Dean Lesher in which the Contra Costa Times publisher accuses the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle of taking biased “potshots” at his papers, and accusing Diablo’s writer of having a pro-union bias.

August 1990: A cover story on the Oakland A’s compares the 1990 lineup with the greatest teams in baseball history. The A’s reached their third consecutive World Series that season, but lost the series to the Cincinnati Reds 4–0.

January 1993: As Bill Clinton takes office, Diablo asks if Lawrence Livermore Lab will survive. Update: 20 years later, it’s still building explosives and lasers.

March 1995: Cover story “The Kids Next Door” profiles gay teens and previews the release of the watershed book, Prayers for Bobby, about a gay teen from Walnut Creek who committed suicide. Fourteen years later, Prayers for Bobby is made into a film starring Sigourney Weaver and Ryan Kelley.

December 1995: Diablo’s first Threads of Hope issue honors volunteers whose efforts make our community stronger. Eighteen years later, the magazine has received thousands of nominations and profiled numerous community heroes in this annual feature.

April 1997: Newspaper heiress Margaret Lesher is featured on the cover with her new husband, rodeo cowboy T. C. Thorstenson. Within weeks of publication, Lesher is found dead in an Arizona lake. Sheriff Joe Arpaio says there was no foul play.

February 2004: Our most controversial cover ever, “Sex and the Suburbs,” is redeemed when the issue wins the Gold Award for Best Special Issue from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

July 2008: Danville-raised supermodel Christy Turlington Burns appears on the cover for the third time, more than any other subject in the magazine’s history.

April 2011: Investigative story “The Setup” exposes elaborate hoaxes and manipulations by former Concord private investigator Chris Butler, whose activities tied into a huge police corruption scandal involving the Contra Costa County Narcotics Task Force.

January 2013: Diablo features Moraga’s Andresen family, whose gay son, Ryan, was denied his Eagle Scout status and launched into the national spotlight. Five months later, the Boy Scouts of America changes its membership policy.

June 2013: Our guide to retro summer fun offers ideas about how to party like it's 1979 all over again.


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