Jesse Jarnow

village theatre, 1965-1968 (fillmore east, pre-bill graham)

(Photo via Frank Mastropolo & John “Beedo” Dzubak of Kingdom Come)

Very much a work in progress!

Originally opened as the Commodore Theatre in 1925-1926, used for Yiddish vaudeville and movies, the auditorium at 105 Second Avenue in Manhattan was most famous as the Fillmore East, which Bill Graham operated from 1968 to 1971. But the room had multiple other lives as a music venue.

The bookings by a variety of promoters during the year before Bill Graham’s arrival are perhaps even more eclectic than what followed when Graham took over, perhaps the city’s greatest “lost” rock/jazz/poetry/political/folk venue. (And, after the Fillmore East, it had another checkered life as the New Fillmore East, aka the N.F.E. Theatre, aka the Village East, subject of a separate, much briefer chronology.)

Thanks immeasurably to the work Corry Arnold (of the mighty Lost Live Dead, Hootrollin, and Rock Prosopography) and Marc Skobac, and the It’s All the Streets You Crossed Not That Long Ago blog (who posted tons of great Village Theatre ads and ephemera for the initial research and inspiration, as well as the Independent Voices database.

Please post corrections, comments, memories, etc., or email me at link on the right.

November 19, 1965
Donovan

Donovan’s New York debut, promoted by Harold Leventhal, longtime manager of Pete Seeger, The Weavers, and many others. Leventhal had also put on Bob Dylan’s first formal New York concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall in 1961.

November 24, 1965
Chuck Berry, The Blues Project, The Undercurrents

Chuck Berry was backed by Al Kooper and the Blues Project. Hosted by Jack Walker.

September 20, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

Billed as “a series of three psychedelic celebrations.”

September 27, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 4, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 11, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 18, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 25, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 1, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 8, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 15, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 22, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 29, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

December 6, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

Allen Ginsberg appeared at the December 6th performance.

December 26, 1966
John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman Trio

John Coltrane with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, Sonny Johnson, Omar Ali, and Algie Bata. Many photos. Gig details.

January 29, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Broadway Dissents, featuring Alan Alda, Ruby Dee, John Henry Faulk, Jules Feiffer, Diana Sands, George Tabori

February 2, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Judson Chamber Ensemble, Bread and Puppet Theater

February 4, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Children’s program at 2 pm: Chalk Talk with Maurice Sendak, Eva Merriam (poetry), Yakim Mime Troupe, films, folksingers; The Last Word (at 8 pm): Jack Glick, Daniel Magrin, Cyrelle Ferman, Phil Corner

February 5, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in the Vietnam (4pm): Art Farmer, Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean, Burton Green and Vincent Gaeta, Clifford Thornton, Pharaoh Sanders, Jeremy Steig, Joel Freedman

Just Music?” report from the Village Voice by Michael Zwerin
Everybody’s Stepchild,” Michael Zwerein, continued

February 22, 1967
WBAI Benefit: Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Chad Mitchell Trio, Patrick Sky, Judy Collins

February 25-26, 1967
Albert Ayler Octet

Performances from February 26th were released on In Greenwich Village (Impulse, 1967) and The Village Concerts (ABC Impulse, 1978)

March 3, 1967
Lucas Hoving Dance Company

March 10, 1967
Pomare Dancers

March 12, 1967
Kay Boyle Tribute to the Rev. A.J. Muste: Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Dave Dellinger, W.H. Ferry, Fred Halstead, Alfred Hessler, Nat Hentoff, Arnold Johnson, Sidney Lens, Bradford Lyttle, David Miller, Bayrd Rustin, I.F. Stone, Marge Swann

March 13, 1967
Eleo Pomare
Subscription dance series for 10 Mondays presented by Eugene Dildine and the Village Theatre

March 17, 1967
Philadelphia Woodwind Quartet, Ornette Coleman Trio

March 20, 1967
Midi Garth (dance)

March 25, 1967
Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba, with Flip Wilson
presented by V. Steven Truett

March 27, 1967
Yukiro (dance)

April 3, 1967
Norman Walker (dance)

April 10, 1967
Paul Sanasardo (dance)

April 14, 1967
Angry Arts (afternoon and evening shows): Free Spirits, Judy Wieder, Robin Roberts, Barbara Dane, Blues Project, Dave Van Ronk, Penny Whistlers, Chad Mitchell Trio, Gene and Franceca, The Magicians, Children of Paradise, Izzy Young (M.C.)

April 17, 1967
Mariane Perra

April 22, 1967
Klay Folk Festival: Beers Family, followed by old-fashioned hootenanny
Presented by Berale Klay and Goya Guitars

April 27, 1967
Merle Marsicano (dance)

April 28, 1967
Chuck Berry
Presented by Psi Upsilon Fraternity

May 1, 1967
Lucas Hoving (dance)

May 2-4, 1967
Abolafia Presidential Love-In (aka Abolafia Cosmic Love-In, aka Cosmic Love Convention): possibly featuring Group Image, Eric Andersen, Alec Leonhardt, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Richie Havens, Paul Krassner, Free Spirits, Children Of Paradise, Elaine White, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Described as a “72-Hour Freakathon for Hippies and Saints,” Louis Abolafia was a nudist/love candidate for President and early hippie advocate for the town of Woodstock. Memories from Abolafia’s brother. Associated Press photo.

May 8, 1967
Meredith Monk (dance and music)

May 12, 1967
Malvina Reynolds and the Pennywhistle Singers
Bernie Klay & Goya Guitars presents

May 13, 1967
An Evening With God by Renewal Magazine in Celebration of the Penetcost starring: The Rev. Malcolm Boyd, Dick Gregory, Paul Krassner, Dr. Timothy Leary, Len Chandler, Dr. Harvey Cox

May 15, 1967
Bhaskar (dance)

May 18, 1967
3-Penny Poetry Reading For Life Against the War in Vietnam: Andrei Voznesensky with Sam Abrams, David Antin, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Gordon Bishop, Karl Bissinger, Robert David Cohen, Phillip Corner, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Joe Early, Clayton Eshleman, The Fugs, Donald Gardner, Malcolm Goldstein, Jackson Maclow, Lewis Meyers, Joel Oppenheimer, Jerome Rothenberg, Joel Sloman, Gil Sorrentino

May 19, 1967
Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater, The Pennywhistlers
Bernie Klay and Goya Guitars Presents

May 20, 1967
Tribute to Chaim Towber

May 27, 1967
Horace Silver Quintet, Morgana King, Ahmad Jamal Trio

June 3, 1967
Herbie Mann, billed as Impressions of the Middle East.

There was some kind of bazaar set up in the lobby. Herbie Mann’s 1967 album, The Wailing Dervishes, was recorded at this performance, featuring Rufus Harley, Reggie Workman, Bruno Carr, Moulay “Ali” Hafid, Chick Ganimian, Roy Ayers, Steve Knight, Esber Köprücü, Hachig T. Kazarian, Steve Knight, Oliver Collins, and James Glenn.

June 5, 1967
Ruth Currier Dance Troupe

June 11, 1967
WOR-FM 1st Anniversary Party (early & late shows): Blues Project, The Doors, Janias Ian, Chambers Brothers, Richie Havens, Jeremy and the Satyrs, plus Jim Lounsbury, Johnny Michaels, Scott Muni, Murray the “K”, Rosko

June 12, 1967
Charles Weidman Theater Dance Company

June ??, 1967
Trips To Wear (fashion show): Third Eye Band, Quintet Revolutionary

June 25, 1967
Songs For Synanon: Count Basie Band, Arthur Pryscock, Stan Getz Quintet

June 26, 1967
Tamara Woshakiwska, Charlotte Honda and Margot Parsons (dance)

June 28, 1967
Bread For Heads Festival: Mothers of Invention, The Fugs, Left Banke, Allen Ginsberg, Tim Buckley

July 8, 1967
Blues Project, The Who, Richie Havens, Chrysalis, Third World Raspberry (playing after)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

Purportedly the final Blues Project show.

July 21-22, 1967
The Byrds, Vanilla Fudge, The Seeds (late only on 7/21, early & late on 7/22)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion (7/21 added later)

July 28, 1967
Janis Ian, The Grass Roots (early & late)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

August 5, 1967
Janis Ian, The Association, Jake Holmes (early & late shows)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

August ??, 1967
Luis Valdez’s Teatro Campesino

August 16, 1967
The Community Breast, A Benefit For The Community (sponsored by To Each All Things): Tiny Tim, The Fugs, Judy Collins, Richie Havens, Peter Walker
Proceeds to Diggers, Provos, and the Communications Company. Pearls Before Swine cancelled.)

August 21, 1967
Barry Gordon

August 24, 1967
Benefit for the Harlem Six and the black people of Dorchester County, S.C.: James Baldwin, Richie Havens, Ossie Davis, Dick Davy, Frank Mitchell Quintet, Bob and Joe

Billed as James Baldwin’s “first major address in 2 years.” Per the East Village Other, 8/24/67, “Baldwin will relate the unrest in America’s Negro ghettos to American foreign policy in a benefit performance tonight… Baldwin is returning to this country from a two-year writing tour in Europe and Istanbul. Co-sponsoring his appearence are the Charter Group for a Pledge of Conscience and the Dorchester Committee of New York City.

August 25, 1967
The Yardbirds, The Youngbloods, Jake Holmes
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

The night Jimmy Page learned “Dazed and Confused” by hearing Jake Holmes perform it.

August 26, 1967
New Stars in ’67 starring Henry Bell with Julie Janeiro, the Jacksonians, the Young Long Islanders, Samuel Avital, Burton Greene, Sandy Allyne, Martha Reynolds, Yvonne Warden, Mother Hive, Sampson Horten Orcehstra

September ??, 1967
Peace rally with H. Rap Brown & others

That New Black Magic! Keep It Violent,” Leticia Kent in the Village Voice.

September 2, 1967
Mitch Ryder, Vanilla Fudge, The Illusions

September 5, 1967
James Cotton Blues Band, New York Blood Sweat and Tears (billed as Al Kooper/Steve Katz), The Kingdom Come

September 6, 1967
The Glories, The Vibrations, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

September 8, 1967
Sri Swami Sivananda with Bob Fass, Dr. Joseph Gelberman

September 9, 1967
The Doors, The Vagrants, Tim Rose
Dynasty Presents

The Vagrants (from Queens) featured Leslie West, future co-founder of Mountain.

September 22, 1967
Dick Gregory, Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill

September 23, 1967
Cream, Canned Heat
(Moby Grape cancelled.)

They Play Blues, Not Superstar,” Richard Goldstein in Village Voice

September 30, 1967
Cream, Soul Survivors, Richie Havens

Cream only played early show.

October 7, 1967
Wilson Pickett, The Paupers, Eric Anderson

October 11, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

Announced as a weekly series in Billboard “featuring Lower East Side talent and top recording acts,” I’m going to assume it only happened a handful of times and vanished.

October 14, 1967
Sarah Vaughan and Arthur Prysock
V. Steven Truett presents…

October 15, 1967
October Breakout, MC: Bob Fass
3 pm: Richie Havens, Eric Anderson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Paul Krassner, Archie Shepp Quartet, Jeremy and the Satyrs, Barbara Dane, Matt Jones
8 pm: Phil Ochs, Charles Mingus, Tim Rose, Moondog and Strings, Paul Krassner, Joe Frazier, Paul Knopf, Bill Fredricks, Elaine White
produced by Topic Magazine and United Jazz Workshops

October 18, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

October 20-21, 1967
Otis Redding and Carla Thomas (cancelled)

October 20-24, 1967
Festival of Changes, A Celebration of the New Destiny; The Sight & Sound of San Francisco Scene: New Salvation Army Banned, The C.I.A. (Center for Interplanetary Activity)
visual disorientation by Liquid Sandwich, Aurora Glory Alice

October 25, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

October 27-29, 1967
Donovan (cancelled)

October 28, 1967
Procol Harum

October 30, 1967
Half Note 10th Anniversary Show: Paul Anka, Carmen McRae, Cannonball Adderley Quintet, Bobby Hackett, Al Cohn (conductor), Alan Grant (M.C.)

October 31, 1967
Halloween Party

November 3, 1967
Yardbirds, Vanilla Fudge (early & late shows)

November 4-6, 1967
Jefferson Airplane (cancelled)

November ??, 1967
James Cotton Blues Band, Blood Sweat and Tears

November 7, 1967
Wilson Pickett, Martha and the Vandellas, James Cotton

November 10-11, 1967
The Doors (cancelled)

November 11, 1967
Moby Grape

November 12, 1967
The Buck Owens Show (4 pm & 8:30 pm): Buck Owens with the Buckaroos, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Collins, Rose Maddox
Bob Wyld and Art Polhemus Present

November 17-18, 1967
Electric Flag, Charles Lloyd (cancelled)

November 18, 1967
Charles Lloyd Quartet (early & late)

November 19, 1967
Cosmos presents: Moondog and Mimi Sym, Group Image & Lights, Aluminum Dream, Tiny Tim, Federal Duck, Charles O’Hegarty, Kingdom Come, Lee Crabtree, Grey Company, Pageant Company, plus underground film, Izzy Young (M.C.)

November 23-24, 1967
(early & late) Moby Grape, Druids of Stonehenge, Charles O’Hegarty, Kingdom Come

November 25-26, 1967
The Who, The Vagrants, Rich Kids
Gary Kurfirst Presents

Perhaps when The Who first met Vagrants/Mountain guitarist Leslie West, who would go on to play on the Who’s Next sessions. Promoter Gary Kurfirst would go on to manage Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, and many others.

December 2, 1967
Mass Meeting, planning for Stop The Draft Week, December 4th-8th, organized by Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee

December 26-27, 1967
Grateful Dead, Peggy Emerson, Take Five

It snowed through a hole in the ceiling. Complete program for the shows. Program features a track list and coupon for the forthcoming live album Take Five were recording that night, allegedly to be released soon on Constellation Records (of 322 E. 44th Street), but I can find no further evidence of this album, Take Five, or a New York company called Constellation Records. Anybody?

February 23-24, 1968
Pearls Before Swine

7 Comments

  1. corry342 says: - reply

    Were the Timothy Leary/Ralph Metzner just lectures or some kind of multi-media event. Right after this, Leary did some events in California, where he did a lecture, there was as slide show and a rock band played. Jan 22 ’67 he played Santa Monica Civic with the Grateful Dead, and the next weekend (Jan 27-28) he played Berkeley and San Francisco with a local psychedelic hippie group called The Outfit.

    This is a roundabout way of querying whether any local rock groups actually played the Village Theater with Leary. In the case of the Dead, they played their own set; in the case of The Outfit, they apparently noodled behind Leary while he spoke.

  2. Corry342 says: - reply

    While on this subject, was Leary’s co-conspirator Ralph Metzner any relation to Group Image bassist Doug Metzner? Group Image, to the extent I know about them, were the hippiest of Greenwich Village hippies and played all the underground events. I see that Group Image played VIllage Theater on May 2 ’67. Metzner ended up joining Country Joe and The Fish in mid-69, and he played Woodstock with them.

    I didn’t recall a thing about Ralph Metzner so I read his NYT obituary (you are quoted, as you of course know). No son is listed, but he did have two brothers, so maybe Doug Metzner was Ralph’s nephew.

  3. Corry342 says: - reply

    October 20-24 “The Sight and Sound of San Francisco Scene:” This is an interesting one. “CIA” was a sort of performance art troupe under the name (if I recall) “Center For Interplanetary Activity.” I think they had some connection to Fluxus, which means there may be a Yoko Ono connection. I didn’t realize they played New York, so maybe Yoko was around?

    Googling CIA or “Interplanetary Activity” is a fool’s errand, so good luck there.

    Salvation Army Banned, originally Salvation Army, was an SF group that changed its name when the actual Salvation Army complained. They weren’t bad, and put out a couple of albums on ABC under the name Salvation.

    What is “Change”? An exhortation, or a typo?

  4. Corry342 says: - reply

    Nov 3 ’67 Yardbirds/Vanilla Fudge, just about 18 months before meeting at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle…

  5. corry342 says: - reply

    April 14 ’67 Angry Arts: Free Spirits was a pioneering Jazz/rock group with Larry Coryell on guitar and Jim Pepper (“WIthci Tai To”) on saxophone. They put out an interesting album on ABC in 1968, although I can’t 100% say it’s good).

  6. Corry342 says: - reply

    Nov 25-26 ’67: The Who/Vagrants . The Vagrants were from Queen and featured lead guitarist Leslie West, prior to being in Mountain. I assume this is where West met Pete Townshend (the bands also played together in Feb 68 at Fillmore, and possibly elsewhere in between).

    This is significant since Leslie West played on the “Who’s Next” sessions, adding lead guitar to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (probably overdubbed). Many many years later the takes with West were released on some Who box set. I had always wondered what the West/Townshend connection might have been, and here we go.

  7. Corry342 says: - reply

    Dec 26-27 Grateful Dead/Take Five. My own notes list GD/Peggy Emerson/Take Five. No idea where I got that information (nor, I should add, who Peggy Emerson or the Take Five might have been)