Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

Fillmore Auditorium
Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium (photo from Wolfgang’s Vault)

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

In 1966 Chet Helms (friend of Janis Joplin and the one who connected her with Big Brother and the Holding Company) teamed up with a commune  called Family Dog and started putting together a series of  shows at the Fillmore Auditorium. Family Dog and Bill Graham, new to the world or rock venues, hosted events on  alternating weekends. The two promoters would lock horns many times over the years, and it was always a contrast in styles. Bill Graham had a reputation as an aggressive, no-nonsense business man, whereas others saw Helms as a more down-to-earth guy who was less interested in money and more focused on throwing a great party. His lack of business skills is one of the reasons Chet never made a much money in the music business, but he was never short on ideas.


The Fillmore Auditorium had been used in December 1965 by Bill Graham in his first foray as a rock promoter.


Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco
Mime Troupe benefit ad

The Grateful Dead had performed there as part of Ken Kesey’s January 8, 1966 Acid Test (click/tap >>> a very interesting recording of the Dead at that event)


…then the first rock shows as just rock shows (February 4, 5, and 6, 1966) were held at the Fillmore Auditorium.


Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco
poster from first show (“Jefferson airplane fillmore poster 1966” by Bill GrahamUploaded by We hope at en.wikipedia – eBay itemimageTransferred from en.wikipedia by SreeBot. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jefferson_airplane_fillmore_poster_1966.jpg#/media/File:Jefferson_airplane_fillmore_poster_1966.jpg)

 


Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

The Fillmore Auditorium was not the first rock venue in San Francisco. The Matrix had opened six months earlier on August 13, 1965 showcasing the Jefferson Airplane, which singer/founder Marty Balin (Balin) had put together as the club’s “house band.”


On October 16, 1965, the Family Dog had put on a dance and concert a the Longshoremen’s Hall with the Jefferson Airplane, the Charlatans, and the Great Society. 


Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco
Bill Graham kicked off his 1967 Summer Series with an incredible lineup at the Fillmore. Headlining the show were Rock and Roll’s biggest new stars, the Jefferson Airplane whose album, Surrealistic Pillow, was climbing the American pop charts. Last on the bill behind Jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo was a relatively unknown guitar player named Jimi Hendrix.
“Jimi first came to San Francisco right after Monterey Pop. …He opened and then Gabor Szabo and then the Airplane. That was the first night. Afterward, the Airplane asked him if they could open the show. Jimi took the town by storm.” Bill Graham (poster from Wolfgang’s Vault site)

Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco

From the Fillmore site: The Fillmore represented the pinnacle of creative music making in the late 1960s. From December 10, 1965, when Bill Graham produced a San Francisco Mime troupe benefit (Jefferson Airplane with Great Society and Mystery Trend; the Warlocks, later the Grateful Dead, kicked off the show), until July 4, 1968, The Fillmore audiences experienced a 2 1/2 year musical and cultural Renaissance that produced some of the most innovative, exciting music ever to come out of San Francisco. The careers of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Moby Grape, the Butterfield Blues Band, and countless others were launched from The Fillmore stage. The most significant musical talent of the day has appeared there: Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Cream, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart, Muddy Waters, The Who – well, you get the picture. Or you’ve heard the stories. If you’re lucky, you were there.


In July, 1968, the Fillmore Auditorium morphed and moved to the Fillmore West, a west coast counterpart to Graham’s already-opened Fillmore East in New York City.


The site remained basically the same and has been a venue under different names at various times since. Today it is again the Fillmore.


References:


Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco
Please follow and like us: