The Fillmore is the preeminent place to see bands play in San Francisco
... It was a dance hall operated under various names and managements starting in 1910 through the 1930s, and a roller rink
in the 1940s. In 1952 some of the biggest names in black music including James Brown
, Bobby "Blue" Bland
and Ike & Tina Turner
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 to become the Grateful Dead
), until July 4, 1968 when the golden age of the Fillmore came to an end, the Fillmore was THE PLACE to be, to dance, to trip, to play music, to do you thing in San Francisco. The Filmore was ahead of its time and inspire uncountable clubs across America.
The Grateful Dead
, Jefferson Airplane
, Carlos Santana
, Quicksilver Messenger Service
, Big Brother and the Holding Company
, Moby Grape
, the Butterfield Blues Band
, got their start here. Jimi Hendrix
, Otis Redding
, Howlin' Wolf
, Captain Beefheart
, Muddy Waters
, The Who
all played here as did Miles Davis
, Janis Joplin
, Frank Zappa
and many many many others.
Here's what a month at the fillmore was like back in those headdy days of the Summer of Love
, August 1967
Aug. 1-6: Muddy Waters, Buffalo Springfield, Richie Havens.
Aug. 8-13: Electric Flag, with Moby Grape and Steve Miller Blues Band.
Aug. 15-17: Chuck Berry and Charles Lloyd Quartet, with Steve Miller Blues Band.
Aug. 18-19: Young Rascals and Charles Lloyd Quartet.
Aug. 20-21: Count Basie Orchestra with Charles Lloyd Quartet.
Aug. 22-27: Butterfield Blues Band and Cream.
Aug. 29-31: Cream, Electric Flag, Gary Burton.
WOW! imagine that!
The Fillmore also played host to many non-musical events, including Michael McClure's The Beard; Leroi Jones's (Amri Baraka)The Dutchman, Lenny Bruce's last public appearance on a bill also featuring Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.
"There was very much a whole kind of Fillmore energy coming off the audience that combined with the band," Eric Clapton remembers. "When we played the Fillmore for the first time (with Cream) the band was in the light show. If you were in the audienace, you didn't know who was playing. Not at all. It was a sensory thing."
Bill Graham's policy of introducing Fillmore audiences to eclectic musical combinations turned on a generation to the music of classic blues and jazz artists including Otis Rush, Junior Wells, Jimmy Reed, The Staple Singers and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
The Fillmore hosted it's last show of the Golden Age on the Fourth of July, 8. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf and It's a Beautiful Day played.
The Fillmore became a private neighborhood club for a time in the 1970s, and in the early 1980s, it reopened as the Elite Club playing host to punk shows. Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Flipper, Public Image Ltd. were among the luminaries of a new generation to play the venerated hall. Alpha Blondy & The Solar System and Little Women played there as did Husker Du.
In 1991 after Bill Graham's death the Fillmore was refurbished and reopened under Bill Graham Presents auspices.
The Fillmore reopened April 27, 1994 with The Smashing Pumpkins, Ry Cooder & David Lindley and American Music Club. Tickets sold out in less than a minute.It's been a haven for the best music this side of Aldderan ever since.
The Fillmore's opening month lineup included:
- Primus 4/28 & 29
- Chris Isaak 4/30 & 5/1
- Michelle Shocked 5/2
- The Afghan Whigs & Redd Kross 5/3
- Queen Latifah and Solsonics, 5/4 X 5/5
- Gin Blossoms 5/6
- Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Marshall Crenshaw 5/7
- D'Cuckoo and Pele Juju 5/8
- Sir Douglas Quintet and The Hellecasters 5/10
- Brian Setzer Orchestra 5/11
- Mother Hips 5/12
- Ali Farka Toure and Ben Harper 5/13
- Huey Lewis and the News 5/14
- NRBQ 5/15
- Blues Traveler and Soul Hat 5/16 & 17
- They Might Be Giants and Frente! 5/18
- Counting Crows 5/19-22
- Thinking Fellers Union Local #282, Steel Pole Bathtub and SF Seals 5/25
- Twister - A Ritual Reality, performed by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, with music by Jambay 5/26 & 27
- Jefferson Starship and Merl Saunders 5/28