|One of the Best "Live" Rock Albums Ever!
I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire,
a cobra snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house by the road side,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got me a chimney
made on top,
Made from a human skull,
Now come on, take a little walk with me,
Now who do you love?
~John Cipollina, Gary Duncan, David Freiberg, Greg Elmore~ ...
. . . and then came the Fillmore West &
The Avalon Ballroom, Fillmore Auditorium,
Fillmore West and Winterland were four places that ushered in the modern era of rock show presentation and grew out of the counterculture
of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. In late 1965, a pair of rock concert benefit shows for the radical San Francisco
Mime Troupe were organized by the show's manager, Bill Graham. The first was held at the Calliope Ballroom on Howard Street,
while the second show was at the Fillmore Auditorium, a stylish ballroom at Geary and Fillmore streets. Inspired by the success
of the shows, Graham decided to go into the concert and promotion business, setting up operations at the Fillmore. In 1968, Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East in New
York City and moved his San Francisco operation to the former Carousel Ballroom, renamed the Fillmore West.
|Fillmore Postcard (1967)
Cream began their first tour of
North America on August 22, 1967, at Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco.
The cost of a ticket was $3.00
and the auditorium was packed to the rafters. The Fillmore was sold out for five straight nights, after which Bill Graham
gave each member of the band a gold watch. The band's stay was extended from August 29 to September 3 (no show on August 28).
It was at the Fillmore that Cream first began to expand (jam)
their songs on stage. Until that time, the songs ran about the same length as the recorded versions. Even Cream's studio recordings
ran longer than the 2
3 minutes, which was the norm at that time.
Bill Graham knew that the audience was
captivated by Cream and Eric stated the band was frustrated at not having enough time to "build" on their work, so he allowed
the band to have an "open ended" show. "Go on and play and do it your way. If you want to play Spoonful from night until dawn,
|Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton
When the music changed . . . . . Forever!
A Letter from Bill Graham
(from page 45 of the May 6, 1971 issue of The Village Voice)
Ever since the creation of the Fillmores, it was
my sole intention to do nothing more, or less, than present the finest contemporary artists in this country, on the best stages
and in the most pleasant halls.
The scene has changed and, in the long run, we are all to one degree or another at
fault. All that I know is that what exists now is not what we started with, and what I see around me now does not seem to
be a logical, creative extension of that beginning. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to announce the closing of the
Fillmores, and my eventual withdrawal from producing concerts.
The process will commence with the formal closing of
Fillmore East on Sunday, June 27, 1971.
My reasons are as follows:
1) The unreasonable and totally destructive
inflation of the live concert scene. Two years ago I warned that the Woodstock Festival syndrome would be the beginning of the
end. I am sorry to say that I was right In 1965 when we begin the original Fillmore Auditorium, I associated with and employed
"musicians." Now, more often than not, its with "officers and stockholders" in large corporations - only they happen to have
long hair and play guitars. I acknowledge their success, but condemn what that success has done to some of them. I continue
to deplore the exploitation of the gigantic-hall concerts, many of them with high-priced tickets. The sole incentive of too
many has simply become money. The conditions for such performances, besides lacking intimacy, are professionally impossible
according to my standards.
2) I had always hoped to be able to present artists whose musical worth I felt was important:
artists whose music was valid, whether commercially popular or not. There are more quality artists today; but many of those
that do exist do not appear in public regularly. Therefore, in order to stay in business, I would be forced to present acts
whose musicality fell below my personal expectations and demands. I could do this, and in having to book fifty-two weeks a
year it becomes tempting because it is so much easier to do. Thousands might even to come to these concerts, but I personally
would prefer not to present them. For who would gain?
3) With all due respect for the role they play in securing work
for the artists, the agents have created a new rock game called "packaging"; which means simply that if the Fillmore wants
a major headliner, then we are often forced to take the second and/or third act that the agent or manager insists upon, whether
or not we would take pride in presenting them, and whether or not such an act even belongs on that particular show. To do
so would be to relinquish the essential responsibility of being a producer, and this I will not do.
4) 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.
5) The time
and energy that is required for me to maintain a level of proficiency in my own work has grown so great that I have simply
deprived myself of a private life. At this point I feel that I can no longer refuse myself the time, the leisure, and the
privacy to which any man is rightfully entitled.
6) For six years, I have endured the abuse of many members of the
public, and press (in most instances people who did not know me personally). The role of "anti-christ of the underground"
has obviously never appealed to me. And when I asked for people to either judge me on some factual personal knowledge, or
at least base their opinion on that which I produced and gave to the public, I was rarely answered.
7) Rock has been
good to me in many ways, but the final and simple fact is that I am tired. The only reason to keep the Fillmore in operation
at this point would be to make money. And though few have ever chosen to believe me on this point, money has never been my
prime motivation; and now that it would become the only possible motivation to continue, I pass.
My personal future
will begin with a long-needed rest. What will follow, I do not know. The several hundred good people who work at the Fillmore,
maniacally dedicated to our standards, will, no doubt, go on to other creative things on their own. Fillmore West, as you
may know, has been allocated for demolition for a long time now. It will neither relocate nor be reopened.
will become a thing of the past. I will remember with deep emotion and fondness the great and joyous moments of that past.
I sincerely thank the artists and business associates who contributed to our success. But, I warn the public to watch carefully
for what the future will bring.
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 - however it went wrong - please, each of you, stop and think whether or not you allowed it, whether or not you
supported it regardless of how little you received in return.
I am not pleased with this "music industry." I am disappointed
with many of the musicians working in it, and I and shocked at the nature of the millions of people who support that "industry"
without asking why. I am not assured that the situation will improve in the future.
But beyond all these viewpoints,
I truly wish to express my overwhelming appreciation to the people, who, over the years, gave their time and devoted energy
to working at the Fillmores. To them, and to many, many musicians who grew in stature without ever copping out, and to those
admirable patrons who both refused to support marathon rip-offs and who even took the time to helpfully criticize me for the
errors I made - to all of you, my fondest thanks and farewell.
Graham (April 29, 1971)
Hope you enjoyed our website.
Proud to be, own and buy . . . AMERICAN!