Monday, September 28, 2009

Fillmore East April 4-5, 1968: The Who/Buddy Guy/Free Spirits

(this post is part of a series cataloging every performance at The Fillmore East)

The Fillmore East generally planned to have an early (8:00pm) and late (11:30pm) show for both Friday and Saturday night for each engagement. However, Martin Luther King had been assassinated on April 4th, and many New York nightspots were closed.  The Fillmore East remained open, but instead staged one long show each night.

The Who had been a hugely popular Mod group in England, but had never been particularly successful in America.  However, their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and the SF Fillmore suggested that the Who were merely ahead of their time.  The Who had already headlined the SF Fillmore in June 67 and February 68. Their booking agent was Frank Barsalona of Premier Talent (about whom more later). The Who’s current album was The Who Sell Out (Decca Jan 68). The Who had played at the venue in its prior incarnation as the Village Theater (November 25-26, 1967), and had mentioned from the stage that at that time, prior to Graham’s refurbishment, the venue was a “pisshole.”

Both nights were recorded for a possible live album, and many rarely performed numbers were played. A professional recording of The Who’s April 6  show was widely bootlegged.  Most famously, it was on a TMOQ (Trademark of Quality) bootleg lp, usually called Fillmore East.  It features a driving 60-minute set that includes the complete “A Quick One While He’s Away” and a tough cover of “Fortune Teller.” Kostelanetz’s glowing review mentions how since many in the crowd had seen the Monterey Pop movie, they expected The Who to smash their equipment, but when they did it was still stunningly theatrical to watch.

Buddy Guy was the sensational Chicago blues guitarist, who had often toured with harmonica player Junior Wells.  Guy had been on Chess Records for years, but had recently changed record companies, as rock labels were trying to capitalize on the new popularity of bluesmen. Buddy Guy’s current album was A Man And The Blues (Vanguard Feb 68). For at least one of these shows, Buddy Guy came on after The Who, and it was apparently an anticlimax. In the earlier years, Fillmore East shows were less rigid about headliners appearing in the correct order.  Travel schedules and other factors often caused bands to be presented in a different order than the one they were billed. On the first night, B.B.King sat in with Buddy Guy for two numbers. B.B. was probably playing another club in the area (such as The Generation).

Free Spirits was an attempt by producer Bob Thiele to have jazz musicians play rock.  Their album Out of Sight Out of Mind (ABC 1967) was interesting, but they had no real songs. Guitarist Larry Coryell, who played on the album, had left the group by this time.

Next: April 12-13, 1968: Butterfield Blues Band/Charles Lloyd/Tom Rush

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