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