New York (March 30, 2007)–Between March 1968 and July, 1971, Bill Graham’s Fillmore East was a fixture of the New York music scene, housing two theaters that were booked nightly for a combined capacity of 3,664 seats. Now, 36 years later, the venue is returning, in name at least, with the arrival of the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on April 11. Opening night will feature UK singer Lily Allen, DJ Aaron LaCrate, and The Bird and the Bee.
The rebranding of the venue is, in fact, part of an initiative by Live Nation to turn the notoriety of San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium into a franchise on a par with House of Blues or BB King’s Blues Club, according to Billboard. New Fillmore venues will follow soon after in Philadelphia (the TLA) and Detroit (The State Theatre), joining the San Francisco and Denver editions of the brand.
Bruce Eskowitz, Live Nation’s CEO of North American Music, reportedly plans to open a slew of Fillmore clubs in a variety of cities, and noted, “A lot of times people don’t realize that we produce thousands and thousands of club shows a year. We do this all day, so I think you can look at us converting other buildings we have in North America to House of Blues or Fillmores, as well as continue to expand.”
Irving Plaza, a venue arguably more legendary than the Fillmore East, is a 1,200-person club/ballroom at 17 Irving Place and East 15th Street, and has been a fixture of the New York music scene for decades, but it is not the original site of the Fillmore East. The original venue, which stood at Sixth Street at Second Avenue, now houses a condominium development and a bank. Ironically, the corporate move of rebranding the name seems to run counter to numerous reasons that famed promoter Bill Graham closed the original Fillmore East in the first place. Graham announced the venue’s closing on May 6, 1971 through a famous open letter in The Village Voice that can be found here: www.rockpostercollector.com/BGletter.html