Publication of the book “The place that changed rock music forever”

“Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever” book is now available from journalist/photographer Frank Mastropolo

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closure of Fillmore East, promoter Bill Graham’s rock mecca in New York’s East Village. An all-star show on June 27, 1971 headlined by the Allman Brothers Band, the J. Geils Band and blues legend Albert King marked the end of the venue’s brief three-year run.

Graham, the mercurial impresario who also ran Fillmore West in San Francisco, showcased the cream of rock royalty. Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, The Who, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, The Kinks, Moody Blues, Jefferson Airplane, Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Elton John and many other stars have performed.

Rock Cellar contributing writer Frank Mastropolo has attended and photographed many shows at Fillmore East, including opening night with Big Brother & the Holding Company with Janis Joplin. Over the past decade, Mastropolo has interviewed over 90 Fillmore East musicians and crew to write Fillmore East: the place that changed rock music foreverwhich was recently released and is available now.

Fillmore East exterior (Photo © Jeff Rothstein)

Jack Casady, Dave Davies, Jorma Kaukonen, Robert Lamm, John Lodge, Nils Lofgren, Dave Mason, Roger McGuinn and Steve Miller are among the 19 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees who brought their memories from the hall. The coffee table-sized oral history is packed with more than 200 performance photos, posters, letters, buttons, contracts and memorabilia, many of which have never been published before.

“As a music fan, writing the book was a great opportunity to talk with artists whose music I’ve enjoyed for over 50 years,” says Mastropolo, who writes Rock Cellar’s I’m still standing and first 11 columns. “All were generous with their time and stories and many stories shared that will surprise even hardcore rock fans.”

And it wasn’t just rock. Graham revolutionized the live concert industry with shows featuring the giants of jazz, blues, soul, R&B and folk music. Backed by a state-of-the-art sound system and the psychedelic imagery of the Joshua Light Show, the artists of Fillmore East have electrified fans and recorded many of the most beloved live albums in rock history. And ticket prices have never exceeded $5.50.

Mastropolo spoke by phone to Steve Miller as he drove through the Australian Outback during his 2013 Australian tour with Santana. “Graham had learned so much in San Francisco,” Miller recalls in the book. “When you sit and watch the lineups that played at the Fillmore East or the Fillmore West, that was probably the greatest melting pot of music in the history of civilization.”

Miller says his first headliner at Fillmore East “was very important to me. It was a big deal. So I arrive in New York, I’m very excited. I climbed the ladder. I did the show with Miles Davis, I did the show with Neil Young. And now I’m finally gonna headline my show with Mungo Jerry.

“It’s the guys who have ‘In the Summertime’, that little bit, you know? That hit single? And I come into town and I pass by the Fillmore East and the billboard says “Miller Mungo.”

“And I liked Mungo Jerry, I thought they were kind of funny. I liked the melody, but I was very upset, wasn’t I? And we’re going to play the gig and as soon as they have finished their set, they throw about 500 kazoos into the crowd and leave the stage, so you can imagine going out with 500 people with kazoos.

Bill Graham outside Fillmore East (Photo: Dr Arlene Q. Allen)

Bill Graham outside Fillmore East (Photo: Dr Arlene Q. Allen)

Nils Lofgren, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, was a young fan and aspiring musician sneaking backstage. Lofgren describes the night he joined a jam with Eric Burdon and the Animals. “I still remember this guy smiling at me, and he was handing me the guitar, he said, ‘Why aren’t you playing?’ And I’m like, oh my God, great, because Eric was singing great with this singer.

“But then I’m like, oh shit, I don’t have a pick. What am I going to do? I can’t not play. So I ripped the cap off a bottle of beer, which put me uncomfortable, but I played in. And Eric Burdon was singing great blues with this fabulous African-American woman, just crying over the blues.

“And he stayed with the girl and it was beautiful. It was just a holy grail moment for me, walking into the Fillmore, and all of a sudden, I’m playing with the animals.

Janis Joplin (Photo: Frank Mastropolo)

Janis Joplin (Photo: Frank Mastropolo)

“Bill Graham was such a difficult, unpleasant guy to deal with,” Miller recalled. “He was always in a bad mood, very belligerent, and the way I treated him was I was just like, ‘Hey, you know what? Kiss my ass. If you’re gonna act like that, I’m not playing. It was the only way I knew how to deal with him.

“In San Francisco, the Fillmore operated six days a week,” Miller explains. “So when Graham had the two Fillmores going, he really had a creative melting pot that was fantastic. And when Graham took him and moved him to New York, the Fillmore East was Bill Graham. He had this big ego He was the most important promoter in the world, he was telling you every minute of the day, and he was generating that kind of juice and that kind of excitement. And then he delivered it in a really big way. Of course. , it was wonderful.

“The time was right, the formula was completely worked out, everyone had played the Fillmore West and everyone wanted to play the Fillmore East. No matter who you were, you wanted to do this show at least once or twice. was a big deal.”

Fillmore East: the place that changed rock music forever is published by Edgar Street Books and is now available on Amazon.

Read more cool stories from Frank Mastropolo at Rock Cellar: HERE