Fillmore or Less

Walking north from Toy Tokyo on Third Avenue the other night was literally walking down memory lane. I passed the old Fillmore East building, which is now an Emigrant Savings Bank, where I once spent many of my best Friday and Saturday evenings during the late 60s. With the exception of the Troggs, every act blew my proverbial mind.

Bill Graham’s Fillmore East was the heart of NYC’s East Village at a time when there were at least half a dozen major rock venues – five of them in ten blocks of each other, including The Anderson (where I saw Moby Grape and Elephants Memory). The former Loews Commodore theater, the Fillmore was more or less truly palatial – in a seedy sort of way. It was also the remnant of the original Yiddish Theater district, which held memories for my grandparents.

Seeing the old building, as I often do, next to the former Ratners dairy restaurant (now NYU and a grocery store), and down the block from Gems Spa (which is still there – and I can be seen in the 1969 photograph below, second from bottom), I was reminded of what a vibrant area this was. Interestingly, with Toy Tokyo there, among other funky shops and groovy folks, it still is.

(Note: If you are interested in 60s graphics go here.) (Poster below by Fantasy Unlimited.)

(See the Weekend Heller for Bob Grossman’s latest comic here and see all the past Daily and Nightly Hellers here.)

11 thoughts on “Fillmore or Less

  1. Edward Grossman

    EDWARD GROSSMAN-April 12th, 2011
    Iam now 58 years old, and the photos of The Fillmore East bring back such amazing memories. I would be there literally every Saturday sitting in the balcony seats for 3 dollars and fifty cents, seeing amazing performances by Ten Years After,Frank Zappa, Rhinoceros, Jimi Hendrix,and the list is endless. My wife,and I live down in the East Village, and I am always saying to her that it is a shame that this is now an Emigrant Savings Bank. Iwish THE FILLMORE EASTwas still here
    Edward Grossman

  2. Steven Heller Post author

    To those Troggs fans, I understand your pain.
    I loved Wild Thing – and it became one of the emblematic songs of the era. But I was never convinced that the Troggs were more than a one-hit group with funny beige pin stripe suits as their most memorable attribute.
    I know I should lighten up. But when I saw them they were a warm-up band that stayed too long warming up.

  3. Joseph

    I second David C’s request regarding the Troggs. With some of my fave tunes such as With A Girl Like You and Cousin Jane I can only speculate. Don’t leave us hanging, Steve!

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  4. Michael Doret

    I attended many concerts at the Fillmore East (Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix…). The East Village was my stomping ground, as I had lived there while attending Cooper Union. Whenever I’m in NYC and pass by 2nd & 6th I get incredible pangs of nostalgia. Steve, I wonder if we might have been at some of the same concerts(?) Thanks for this posting!

  5. RWordplay

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you for this posting.  Both a pleasure and relevant to my Limbo project. Considering your affection for that period, I would love to get you before the camera, to share a few thoughts, memories, tales from “old” St. Marks.
    Best wishes,

  6. Patrick King

    Via two albums, Big Brother’s “Cheap Thrills” and the Allman Brother’s “Live at the Fillmore East,” the venue’s visual and musical iconography were sealed in the hearts of every young music lover fortunate enough to have been alive at the time. R. Crumb was introduced to many via the former, and Jim Marshall’s gritty photo of the latter outside the hall would forever remain the image of a young Southern band in the big city, tragedy looming on the horizon. Coincidentally, it was recorded 40 years ago last weekend.
    The Fillmore belonged to all of us, it was the national music hall of the era, whether we ever stepped foot in one or not. 
    30+ years later, enter Live Nation, cheaply capitalizing on the name by re-christening several venues around the country “Fillmore.” Nevermore, nevermore. 

  7. iBernard

    And I would be remiss, on this Black Party Monday Recovery Day, if I didn’t point out that the “old Fillmore East” was transformed, with over $3 million dollars, into Bruce Mailman’s THE SAINT, the mecca of gay nightlife.
    Robert Mapplethorpe created the iconic images of Frank Diaz with the knife, and you were either at The Saint, or you weren’t. And I’m talking about the original, formerly The Fillmore East.
    Here’s a great developing series of what THE SAINT was all about…