The Psychedelic History of the Fillmore Auditoriums

Bill Graham was a well-liked music promoter who managed several bands, organized concerts, and eventually made several concerts venues famous. Three of these concert halls bore the name “The Fillmore. ” These were Graham’s first venue in San Francisco: “The Fillmore”, his New York hall “The Fillmore East”, and of course the legendary “Fillmore West”, center of the psychedelic San Francisco music and arts happening. In the 1960s, the Fillmore venues were important destinations for the most popular artists of the time. lsd tabs

The first Fillmore venue was located in the “Majestic Hall” at the corner of Fillmore and Geary in San Francisco. Graham’s first concert at The Fillmore Auditorium took place on Feb. 4th, 1966, and featured Jefferson Airplane. This event marked the genesis of the Fillmore’s incredible tenure as the center of San Francisco music happening and the 60s counterculture. Nearly all the most popular musical artists of the times played there including the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Butterfield Blues Band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, and many others.

Bill Graham, in 1968, took over another venue on 2nd Avenue in New York City. This second hall was called The Fillmore East and served as a companion to the Fillmore in San Francisco. The venue fast became known as “The Church of Rock and Roll”, frequently featuring popular artists such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Taj Mahal, and The Allman Brother’s Band. Spectacular psychedelic light shows also drew fans to the Fillmore East.

Bill Graham, in July of 1968, moved the San Francisco Fillmore location from Geary St. to the corner of Market at S. Van Ness, renaming the venue The Fillmore West. The Celestial Synapse, a large music event hosted by Frontiers of Science Fellowship, took place at the Fillmore West in February of 1969.

Bill Graham’s Fillmore was a catalyst for some of the best psychedelic artwork of the 1960s. The colorful psychedelic posters created to promote Fillmore concerts featured the spectacular work of artists such as Rick Griffon, David Byrd, Wes Wilson, Randy Tuten, and many others.

Only one of the Fillmore buildings is operating today as a concert venue. The original Fillmore reopened in 1994 with a show featuring the Smashing Pumpkins. The Fillmore East now houses an apartment complex and a bank, and the Fillmore West is operating as a Honda repair facility. There is much more to the fascinating history of the Fillmore and mind-blowing artwork produced during this time.

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