The Beat Within

Fillmore East concert programs

It?s not the size of Paul Gary?s collection that makes it noteworthy, but instead the rich musical history it evokes. He still has five programs from the iconic Fillmore East auditorium, promoter Bill Graham?s New York venue that during its three-year run featured some of the biggest acts in rock history, including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin. Gary?s earliest program is from February 1970, when the then-16-year-old rode the train from Long Island to see a four-band bill headed by Ten Years After. He saw about a dozen other shows at the Fillmore, known as the ?Church of Rock and Roll,? which hosted its final gig on June 27, 1971, the day Gary graduated from high school.

One of his programs, from a November 1970 show headlined by Leon Russell, features an undercard including Elton John, who was on his first U.S. tour. Other programs are from multiband shows with opening acts that included Jackson Browne and Boz Scaggs.

That was the kind of place the Fillmore was, an intimate 2,700-seat venue where remarkable lineups?one program advertises a show for $3.50 featuring Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Steve Miller Blues Band and ?extra added attraction? Miles Davis Quintet?appeared regularly on one stage. The memories of those shows still reverberate deep within Gary.

?The crowds were just great,? he says. ?Everybody was really into the music. Those were fun days. This stuff is all from over 40 years ago, but I still can remember every riff.?

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