1994 – The historic Fillmore club reopens in San Francisco. The opening acts include Smashing Pumpkins, Ry Cooder & David Lindley and American Music Club.
The Fillmore (also known as Fillmore Auditorium, or in error as Fillmore West) is a historic music venue in San Francisco, California made famous by Bill Graham. Named for its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard, it lies on the boundary of the Western Addition and the Pacific Heights neighborhoods. In 1968 Graham moved his concerts to a different venue at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue (formerly known as The Carousel Ballroom and El Patio) which he renamed Fillmore West; the original Fillmore Auditorium continued under the name The Elite Club. Graham began presenting concerts at the original Fillmore Auditorium again in the 1980s, but it was closed due to earthquake damage in October 1989. After much structural work, in 1994 the original Geary Boulevard location re-opened as The Fillmore.
As of 2008, The Fillmore is leased and operated by Live Nation.
In the mid-1960s, The Fillmore Auditorium became the focal point for psychedelic music and counterculture in general, with acts such as The Grateful Dead, The Who, Cream, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Big Brother and the Holding Company performing at the venue.. Besides rock, Graham also featured non-rock acts such as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Charles Lloyd and Otis Redding as well as poetry readings. The venue was legendary for its ambience as well as the stellar performances, with swirling light-show projections, strobe lights and uninhibited dancing. At the end of the evening, Bill Graham often stood next to a huge bin of fresh apples at the front exit saying good night to the patrons and handing out apples, and handing out free posters custom designed as souvenirs for each show by poster artists who would become as famous as The Fillmore itself.
After two years there, because of a deteriorating neighborhood and the modest capacity of the hall, in July 1968 Bill Graham moved from the original Fillmore at Fillmore Street and Geary Blvd to the Carousel Ballroom at the corner of Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue (now the location of a Honda car dealership), which was renamed Fillmore West (in contrast with Graham’s Fillmore East auditorium in New York City). The distinction between the original Fillmore Auditorium and the later Fillmore West is often lost on many music fans and journalists, especially those overseas who didn’t experience the San Francisco scene personally.
The original Fillmore location became a private club called The Elite Club. For several years in the early 1980s, punk promoter Paul Rat booked punk rock shows at this venue. Punk bands that performed at The Elite Club include Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Dead Kennedys, TSOL, Flipper, Gang of Four, and Public Image Ltd.
The Fillmore reopened under Graham’s management by the late 1980s, but it was damaged and closed by the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 1989. After Graham died in a helicopter crash in 1991, those close to him decided to carry out his final wish to retrofit and reopen the original Fillmore. The Fillmore re-opened in 1994 with the band The Smashing Pumpkins playing the first show. The Fillmore has once again become a San Francisco hotspot with frequent shows. For a standard show, the capacity of the Fillmore is 1,250 guests.
The Fillmore is also well known for its psychedelic concert posters by designers including Wes Wilson and Rick Griffin. Copies of these posters are given to fans free of charge as they exit selected, sold-out shows. A chronological collection of these posters is on display in the mezzanine level of the auditorium today.
Other traditions are carried on to this day. One is a large tub of free apples for concertgoers positioned near the entrance. Another is a “greeter”, a staff member who welcomes each guest as they enter (“Welcome to the Fillmore!”).
Live Nation has recently begun a campaign to expand the Fillmore “brand” by changing the names of a number of established clubs it owns around the U.S. to “The Fillmore____.” This includes clubs in Detroit, Philadelphia (Fillmore at the TLA), New York (Fillmore at Irving Plaza), Denver, and Miami Beach (Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theatre). Plans underway to construct a Fillmore in the Washington, DC suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland have been met with opposition