Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Next month, on June 14, a new venue named SVN West will open its doors at 10 South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, California. For the past several decades, the space served a rather banal purpose as a Honda car dealership, but at the end of the 1960s and into the early ’70s it was one of the hottest hubs of live music in all of America. It was known at first as the Carousel Ballroom until about 1968, when Bay Area concert impresario Bill Graham took it over and gave it a new name: The Fillmore West.
Though the building is slated for destruction and re-development in the coming years, a Bay Area company named Non Plus Ultra has stepped in in the meantime to host a variety of concerts and private events in the space before the wrecking ball comes through. “Our goal is to utilize the space while it’s there for however many years because it is a historical, cool landmark and we just hate to see it go to waste,” NPU representative Ryan Melchiano told me.
While the company mostly curates and hosts events in bigger and more prominent public spaces in San Francisco like the Palace Of Fine Arts and the US Mint, the fact that the old Fillmore West site is privately owned by a developer allows them to plan a wide variety of different gatherings, chief among them they hope, is music. “We want to bring in Erykah Badu and the Roots and do a cool show,” Melchiano said. “We want to bring in some old-timers from the ’60s and ’70s and pay homage and respect to the historical elements of the Fillmore West Theater and the Carousel Ballroom. We will be able to do stuff like that, and that is our intended goal.”
Though the Fillmore West only operated under that venerated sobriquet for about three years between 1968 to 1971, in that time, it managed to host some of the most dynamic rock, soul and funk artists in the history of modern popular music. Here collected, are the 10 greatest performances ever promoted by Bill Graham at the Fillmore West.