The Fillmore

The Fillmore is a historic music venue in San Francisco, California. Built in 1912 and originally named the Majestic Hall, it became the Fillmore Auditorium in 1954. It is in Western Addition, on the edge of the Fillmore District and Upper Fillmore neighborhood. The building which became The Fillmore was built in 1912 and initially housed the Majestic Hall and Academy of Dancing. Its name was changed in 1936 to the Ambassador Dance Hall. From 1939 to 1952 it operated as the Ambassador Roller Skating Rink. In 1954, Charles Sullivan, one of the most successful African-American businessmen in San Francisco at the time, started booking bands and renamed the venue The Fillmore Auditorium. In December 1965, Sullivan let Bill Graham use his dance hall permit to book a benefit for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and after that Graham continued to book shows there. Sullivan was murdered in August 1966 at the age of 57. On May 27, 28 and 29, 1966, The Velvet Underground and Nico played the Fillmore Auditorium as part of Andy Warhol‘s Exploding Plastic Inevitable avant-garde multimedia show. Their light show engineer Danny Williams, who pioneered many of today’s standard practices in rock music light shows, built a light system at the Fillmore that included stroboscopes, slides and film projections onstage. The system was partially inspired by Jonas Mekas‘s earlier film projections at concerts held at The Cinematheque in New York. As conceived by Warhol and Williams, the show also included wild, free dancing both in the crowd and onstage. Although The Velvet Underground’s proto-punk aesthetics failed to resonate with the incipient San Francisco counterculture, Graham retained Williams to build additional light systems. These innovations were to become part of the Fillmore Auditorium’s prestige and image and served as the basis for the systems subsequently used at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West venues. In the mid-1960s, the Fillmore Auditorium became the focal point for psychedelic music and the counterculture in general, with such acts as The Grateful Dead, The Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Santana, Frank Zappa‘s The Mothers of Invention, and British acts The Who, Cream, and Pink Floyd all performing at the venue. Besides rock, Graham also featured non-rock acts such as Lenny Bruce, Miles Davis, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Lloyd, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding as well as poetry readings. The Grateful Dead played a total of 51 concerts at the venue from 1965 through 1969. …”
W – Fillmore West, W – Fillmore East
LA Times – Must Reads: Grab an apple and enter the Fillmore, San Francisco’s cradle of psychedelia that continues to rock (Audio – Live in Fillmore)
SF Museum

Jefferson Airplane Fillmore, February 1966.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Bill Graham, Grateful Dead, Jazz, Movie, Music, Poetry, Street theater and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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