The Fillmore East

Art & Culture | History

The Church of Rock and Roll

The Fillmore East Building EV

About The Fillmore East

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • For three heady years, the Fillmore East made the East Village the center of the rock ‘n’ roll world – and the world would never be the same
  • Built in 1925, the building at 105 2ndAvenue was originally a Yiddish theater.
  • Rock promoter Bill Graham purchased the theater in 1968 and named it the Fillmore East (he also ran the Fillmore West in San Francisco).
  • For three years, The Fillmore East was THE hotspot for psychedelic rock, jazz, soul, and pop music acts such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, BB King, Elton John, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and so many more.
  • The Fillmore had shows almost every night of the week and hosted two on Friday and Saturdays, an early show and a late show.
  • After three years, three months and nineteen days, the Fillmore East closed. Why? Money? Industry changes? Booking? Bill Graham never gave a real answer.
  • In its next life, the space became The Saint, a gay superclub, which functioned for eight raucous, sexy years.
  • Today, the building has been split into an apartment building (where the theater was), and the Apple Bank of Savings (the former lobby). If you head into the bank, you’ll find a memorial exhibit celebrating the Fillmore East. If you step outside to Bill Graham’s Way, you’ll see the iconic mosaic lamp post.

Carpe City Trivia

The Best Live Album Recording Venue Maybe Ever

The Filmore East boasts an incredible catalog of live albums recorded in the concert hall, which was famous for its ideal acoustics. In the venue’s three years, thirteen live albums were made there, making ‘Live at the Filmore’ a gold standard in the industry. They include:

  • Miles Davis
  • Derek and the Dominos
  • The Grateful Dead
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jefferson Airplane,
  • King Crimson
  • Neil Young
  • Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
  • Probably the most famous: the Allman Brothers Band, who broke out commercially with their At Filmore East, which is regarded as one of the best live albums of all time.

The Allman Brothers 1971 Fillmore East Recordings on Amazon

The Allman Brothers Fillmore East Recordings on Amazon

What a Short, Strange, Trip it Was!

The Dead: A band, a movement, a lifestyle, an excuse for losing track of whole years, a multi-generational business, and, certainly, some of the best times at the Fillmore East. People would sleep on 2ndAvenue waiting for the box office to open before Dead shows. The band would invite whoever else was around to play with them. From Duane Allman to the Beach Boys, their impromptu collaborations, covers, and jam sessions were unparalleled. And, it’s impossible to imagine Jerry up on stage without the psychedelic pyrotechnic Joshua Light Show, the Fillmore’s in-house entertainers and innovators of concert-light backdrops.

The Dead loved Bill Graham and would play pranks on him because he was so serious. According to Rolling Stone, “Once, they even dosed his can of 7-Up with LSD right before they went onstage. Graham later described it as ‘one of the greatest evenings of my life.’”

Did you know, between 1965 and 1995, the Dead played 2,318 shows? That kind of schedule required discipline and business-sense that went far deeper than the “peace and love and dancing” image the band maintained. Even so, their balance of playfulness and seriousness was a winning combination – in 1994, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jerry didn’t go, but the other band members who did brought a life-size cardboard cut-out of Jerry, who even posed for pictures!

And how could we not mention the amazing trivia that Jerry was the first musician to have an ice cream named after him? Head to the Ben and Jerry’s on Saint Mark’s Place and get a scoop of Cherry Garcia two blocks from where the Fillmore East once rocked!

The Grateful Dead & Duane Allman – Dark Star – Spanish Jam 1970

By: Owen Norri & Ariel Kates

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