Posted on October 12, 2011 by SCANComments are off
The Fillmore East was Bill Graham’s NY companion to his home base at The Fillmore West in San Francisco. The Fillmore West had been open since ‘65 and was an integral part of the psychedelic scene and the counterculture movement of the mid to late 60′s. It closed along with the Fillmore East in 1971.
The Fillmore East was opened in ’68, on Second Avenue near the corner of East 6th Street, in the East Village, Manhattan. It hosted some of the biggest music acts of the period until ’71, when Graham closed the doors because of “Woodstock Syndrome” – a term he coined to describe the inflation of the live music scene from “musicians” playing in small venue’s to ”stockholders in large corporations – only they happen to have long hair and play guitars”. He didn’t like the industries (and its musicians) move towards “gigantic-hall concerts” with “high-priced tickets” and “miserable production quality.”
Graham felt that the “Music Industry” was (even 40 something years ago) destructive to the music and the countercultures it created and supported and he was “not assured that the situation” would “improve in the future.”
“The rock scene in this country was created by a need felt by the people, expressed by the musicians, and, I hope, aided to some degree by the efforts of the Fillmores. But whatever has become of that scene, wherever it turned into the music industry of festivals, 20,000-seat halls, miserable production quality, and second-rate promoters.”
He felt that larger venues lacked intimacy, that his hand was forced to support artists that were more commercially popular than musically valid and that “in the early days of both Fillmore East and West, the level of audience seemed much higher in terms of musical sophistication. Now there are too many screams for “More” with total disregard for whether or not there was any musical quality.”
In ’67 it was called The Village Theater and began to present bands like The Doors, Cream and The Who but when Graham took it over it had fallen into disrepair. It provided Graham an East Coast counterpart to The Fillmore West and became known as “The Church of Rock & Roll”.
The “Joshua Light Show” was an integral part of band performances at the Fillmore and Joshua White’s psychedelic backdrop of liquid light art was a staple at performances in the Fillmore East.
Many amazing Live Albums were recorded at the Fillmore East because of the great acoustic’s that Bill Graham felt was an important part of the presentation of live music. Hendrix’s classic “Band of Gypsys” was recorded at the Fillmore East on New Years Day, 1970. The Allman Brothers Band, (sometimes called the Fillmore East Hose Band because they played there so many times), released “At The Fillmore” in 1971 and Frank Zappa’s Mothers – “Fillmore East” released in 1971.
Many recordings of other Fillmore East performances have been released over the years including Joe Cocker, Miles Davis, Derek and the Dominos, The Grateful Dead, Humble Pie, Jefferson Airplane, King Crisom, Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, John Lennon, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
Tags: 60's, 70's, Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, america, Band of Gypsys, Bill Graham, blues, counterculture, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, East 6th Street, East Village, Fillmore, Frank Zappa, Hendrix, Humble Pie, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, john lennon, John Mayall, Johnny Winter, Joshua Light Show, Joshua White, King Crisom, Live Albums, manhattan, Miles Davis, Music Industry, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, new york, new york city, nyc, psychedelia, psychedelic, recording, San Francisco, Second Avenue, sixties, Taj Mahal, Ten Years After, The Allman Brothers Band, The Church of Rock & Roll, the doors, The Fillmore Auditorium, The Fillmore East, The Fillmore West, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Woodstock
Cafe Wha? opened in ’59 and is on the corner of Macdougal Street between Bleecker and West 3rd Street in the Greenwich Village about two blocks from Washington Square Park in Manhattan.
The club has been home to (and began the careers of) many musicians and comedians including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen and Richard Pryor.
As a hangout for Ginsberg and the “Beat Generation” it became a stomping ground for many great artists at the start of their careers and known for its support of great talent.
Opened by Manny Roth – the uncle of David Lee Roth, frontman in 80′s Van Halen, the place was referred to by New Yorkers as one of the cities basket-houses - a den for intellectuals, hippies and aspiring folk and rock muso’s – who got paid whatever was chucked in the basket by it’s basket-case patrons.
Dylan’s first ever NY appearance was at Cafe Wha? in ’61 – his very first day in NYC. Roth hired him off the street and put him on as backing for Fred Neil (who later wrote songs for Harry Nilsson). Dylan would also play solo performances for Manny but only in the afternoons, “from twelve to eight,” Dylan recalls, also saying that it was tough to get noticed at Cafe Wha? because of the huge amount of performers that went through there and that it was usually just “tourists looking for beatniks in the Village.”
Jimi Hendrix was most famously discovered by Chas Chandler while playing at Cafe Wha? during the summer of ’66 with his short lived outfit called Jimmy James and The Blue Flames. Chandler (who was ending his time as bass player of The Animals) promptly signed Hendrix and immediately brought him to the UK to form a new outfit called The Jimi Hendrix Experience and get to work recording his debut album “Are You Experienced”.
Hendrix was suggested to Roth by Richie Havens, who also got his start at Cafe Wha?, and Roth hired Jimmy James and The Blue Flames for three months, from May thru till July, to play their psy-funked cover versions of tunes.
During their residency as the Cafe Wha? house band, the band also featured Randy Wolfe who Hendrix dubbed “Randy California” and who would later go on to found Spirit with his step-father drummer, Ed Cassidy. Randy California was only 15!!! at the time he was in The Blue Flame and it niggles me that he didn’t go to England with Hendrix and become part of The Experience, but still, Spirit are amazing, so it’s not all that bad.
A girlfriend of Keith Richards, Linda Keith, befriended Hendrix in New York sometime in ’66 and recommended him to the Stones flamboyant manager – Andrew Loog Oldham – but he wasn’t interested so she later recommended him to Chas Chandler who saw Hendrix at the Cafe Wha? on July 5th and reckoned he could make a killer single out of “Hey Joe”. The rest is history…
Although Hendrix and Dylan were Cafe Wha?’s most famous exponents, they only met once during that time in New York, at another village bar called The Kettle Fish.
Cafe Wha? is open to this day, although it was sold by Manny Roth in 1988, and is still supporting up and coming talent with its open mic nights and open door procedures.
Tags: 50′s, 60's, 70's, america, Andrew Loog Oldham, Are You Experienced, Bleecker Street, blues, Bob Dylan, Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler, David Lee Roth, Ed Cassidy, Fred Neil, Greenwich Village, Harry Nilsson, Hey Joe, jimi hendrix, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, keith richards, Lenny Bruce, Linda Keith, Macdougal Street, manhattan, Manny Roth, new york, new york city, New Yorkers, nyc, Randy California, Randy Wolfe, Richard Pryor, Richie Havens, sixties, Stones, The Animals, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Velvet Underground, Van Halen, Washington Square Park, West 3rd Street, Woody Allen
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