Fillmore East Opens 50 Years Ago Today

Big Brother and the Holding Company – March 8th, 1968


For the very first performance at the Fillmore East, Bill Graham decided to bring the sound of San Francisco out to the East Coast. He gave Big Brother and The Holding Company the honor of replacing Freddie King in the opening slot. The New York cultural insiders descended on the venue that evening to witness the blues-rock band fronted by a singer from Texas named Janis Joplin. Even though tensions in the group were at an all-time high because of Joplin’s burgeoning star status, Big Brother managed to set their differences aside that night and deliver a tremendous performance, especially in the second set, which kicked off at nearly two in the morning and gathered a rapturous standing ovation. In the course of just one night, the entire city was put on alert: The Fillmore East was the new place to be seen and heard.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Fillmore East Poster

I recently visited the East Village 2nd Avenue location where the Fillmore East once stood. Here are some photos from that pilgrimage.




Today the property is occupied by Apple Bank. The lobby features one wall of original black and white photographs by Amalie R. Rothschild, the official photographer of the Fillmore East. The other wall has framed color decoupage of various eras of the theatre.






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