Summer of Love Music Venues: Where Are They Now?
The Summer of Love was a transformative time for music. Musicians from far and wide came to visit, to perform and eventually to live in San Francisco. While the epicenter of the revolution was at the edge of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in Golden Gate Park, music venues around the city opened up their doors, embraced artists and their music and let them shine on their stages. As we honor the 50th anniversary of that iconic summer, we honor the venues that helped make the music of the time. Many are still around today.
Originally built in 1912, the Fillmore didn't become popular until Bill Graham started booking acts and musicians there. Once called Majestic Hall, the venue was renamed the Fillmore in 1954 after the neighborhood it calls home. In the mid-60's, the Fillmore became one the focal points leading up to the summer of 1967. Bands such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Santana and British acts The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd all performed at the venue. A tradition that continues today are the psychedelic concert posters given to fans free of charge as they exit selected, sold-out shows and the bowls of apples that Graham stocked for hungry patrons.
The Fillmore West, a spinoff of the original Fillmore, had a short but sweet life under the management of Bill Graham. Initially called the Carousel Ballroom, it was a major stop on the Chitlin Circuit before 1967. In 1968, the music venue operated as a social/musical "laboratory experiment," formed by the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Now it's a Honda dealership.
Built in the 1920s, The Warfield was famous for vaudeville performances from the likes of Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, and Charlie Chaplin. The venue was put back on the map in 1979 when Bob Dylan played 14 shows to start a tour and 12 more shows during his next visit. The Warfield served as a home for the Grateful Dead for many years. In 1980, the Dead played 15 sold-out shows there, featuring both an acoustic and two electric sets. The shows were a celebration of the band's 15th anniversary and done as a show of appreciation for their loyal fans. Separately, Jerry Garcia performed there 88 times with his various side bands. You can still see a show here today.
The Avalon Ballroom
The building that formerly housed the Avalon Ballroom was built in 1911 as a dance academy. The space operated from 1966 to 1969, at the height of the counterculture movement. At the Avalon, two bands typically performed two sets during the evening. Many local bands, such as Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Steve Miller Band, served as backup bands, as did the early Moby Grape. Today, the space is filled by Argonaut, an ad agency.