The place that changed rock music forever

Frank Mastropolo’s new book, Fillmore East: the place that changed rock music forever returns to the legendary and ephemeral place in New York. Mastropolo – journalist, photographer and former producer of ABC News 20/20 – interviewed more than 90 musicians and former crew members for an oral history that compiles more than 200 performance photos, posters, letters, buttons, contracts and other memorabilia – many of which were previously unreleased. 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 contributed to the project. (Several of their reflections from the new volume accompany the images featured in this section.)

Mastropolo writes, “What began life as the Commodore Theater in New York’s East Village became Fillmore East when rock promoter Bill Graham reopened the venue on March 8, 1968. Graham honed his approach in San Francisco, where he mixed rock acts with jazz. , folk, R&B and blues on his posters.

“Fillmore East was known as ‘the church of rock and roll,'” he continues. “When it closed on June 27, 1971, the cream of rock royalty – including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Janis Joplin, Elton John, Tina Turner, Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin and many more – performed there. .

“As Steve Miller observed, ‘Graham had learned so much in San Francisco. When you sit and watch the lineups that played at the Fillmore East or the Fillmore West, that was probably the biggest melting pot of music of the history of civilization.

JANIS JOPLIN AT FILLMORE EAST OPENING NIGHT, MARCH 8, 1968

PHOTO BY FRANK MASTROPOLO

“Ever since that first Fillmore show, Janis was always extremely anxious,” recalls Big Brother & the Holding Company guitarist Sam Andrew. “She was crazy. She was like an obsessive-compulsive person, constantly asking me how she was doing. It was really something to be with someone who was so talented and so insecure at the same time.

ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND

PHOTO BY BEN HALLER

“I was playing with the Allman Brothers at the same time as I was playing with Johnny Winter,” says Bobby Caldwell, who played drums for Johnny Winter. “The Allman Brothers live album was the home run. One of the evenings, we let the Allmans close instead of being the headliner. I don’t think it mattered – nobody cared. And I remember not leaving the Fillmore East until about five in the morning on a few of those nights. It was really grueling, even if you’re a kid.

PETE TOWNSHEND, THE WHO, APRIL 6, 1968

PHOTO BY FRANK MASTROPOLO

“Before it became the Fillmore East, it was called the Village Theatre,” says Doane Perry of Jethro Tull. “I went to see The Who. Daltrey threw his microphone like a lasso and everything was destroyed. And John Entwistle was quietly standing there, motionless, playing bass. However, Pete was growing annoyed with this girl up front – there was no visible security – and she continued to climb the stage right in front of Pete. After about the third time, Pete took his Gibson SG hollowbody and hit it over the head with it.

BILL GRAHAM IN FRONT OF FILLMORE EAST

PHOTO BY DR. ARLENE Q. ALLEN

“The Fillmore East was Bill Graham,” says Steve Miller. “He had this big ego. He was the most important promoter in the world; he was telling you that 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 very big way. Of course, it was wonderful. No matter who you were, you wanted to do this show at least once or twice. It was a big deal.

JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO SURPRISE JAM WITH FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS, 6 JUNE 1971

PHOTO BY DR. ARLENE Q. ALLEN AND BEN HALLER

“John and Yoko went into the back room with Frank, and Frank wrote the songs,” says Aynsley Dunbar, who was the drummer for The Mothers. “For some unknown reason, I think John thought it was all his writing. When they were singing ‘Scumbag,’ they put a canvas bag on top of Yoko’s head – a big bag. He went down to ‘at his feet.

JIMI HENDRIX, JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIMENT, 10 MAY 1968

PHOTO BY FRANK MASTROPOLO

“There was one night when Jimi Hendrix came to the show,” says Mountain drummer Corky Laing. “I walked into this dressing room and noticed a figure off to the side. And, of course, it was Hendrix. And then he was like, ‘Hey, do you want some Magic Dust?’ And I figured if Jimi Hendrix offered you Magic Dust, you wouldn’t refuse.

FILLMORE EAST, 1971

PHOTO BY ROSS B. CARE

“What ultimately killed Operation Fillmore was the fact that it was getting harder and harder for Bill to get the acts,” recalls Joshua White, founder of The Joshua Light Show. “They could do one bad show at Madison Square Garden and make $75,000 instead of doing four shows at the Fillmore and only make $25,000.”