Fillmore West had its beginnings as the Majestic Hall, built in 1912.
Emma Gates Butler hired James W. and Merritt Reid to build an Italianate-style
dance hall at the southwest corner of Fillmore and Geary. When completed
in 1912, it housed the Majestic Academy of Dancing. Wednesday night
socials and masquerade balls were the usual fare, which were held on
the second and third floors.
In the Thirties,
the Fillmore was primarily a dance hall (with names such as The Get
Acquainted Society and the Ambassador Dance Hall); in the Forties it
was a roller rink; and in the Fifties, Charles Sullivan booked some
of the biggest names in black music, such as James Brown, Bobby “Blue”
Bland, and Ike & Tina Turner.
In 1965, Bill Graham
(born Wolfgang Grajonza on January 8, 1931, in Berlin, Germany) presented
his first show at the Fillmore, a benefit for the San Francisco Mime
Troupe, which he managed at the time. As a rock venue, a legend was
born, and Graham went on to feature many of the greatest names in early
rock history, including Big Brother and the Holding Co., Jefferson Airplane,
Cream, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Byrds, Buffalo
Springfield, Steve Miller, Country Joe, Quicksilver Messenger Service,
Santana, Butterfield Blues Band, Otis Redding, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain
Beefheart, Muddy Waters, The Who... the list goes on and on.
famous posters were created to advertise the shows and were handed out
for free. The imaginative style of the art often reflected the psychedelics
of the Sixties and very quickly established itself as one of the most
recognizeable graphic forms of the time. The public also realized the
potential of the posters as pure gold on the collectors market.
The Fillmore closed
after it was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. Bill Graham died in a helicopter
accident near Vallejo, California, on October 25, 1991. After renovations,
the Fillmore reopened on April 27, 1994, with The Smashing Pumpkins,
Ry Cooder & David Lindley and American Music Club, and it continues
to host a variety of concerts to this day.
Artist Paul Olsen
met Bill Graham in 1965 at the first gathering of the Artist’s
Liberation Front in a Hayes Valley house adjacent to that famous row
of Edwardian houses now associated with San Francisco . Paul’s
poster company, Funky Features, created some of the most popular images
of the Haight-Ashbury scene in the Sixties. This collection of Fillmore
posters was a given to Paul by Bill Graham as a gift. The artists featured
in this collection are Wes Wilson, John Meyers, Peter Bailey, Bonnie
Maclean, Charles Seeley, Greg Irons, Jim Blashfield, Nicholas Kouninos,
Stanley Mouse, Lee Conklin, Jack Hatfield, Rick Griffin, Dana Johnson,
Patrick Lofthouse, and Randy Tuten.
Paul Olsen has
gone on to develop graphics and logos for feature films, including Terminator
2 and The Abyss, and he has written a new book titled
The Book of Love. Paul is also working on The Book of Haight
(title suggested by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum) and two screenplays,
directing a series of health videos, and he continues to paint.
Please visit his
website at olsenart.com.
In case you are interested, the entire collection is for sale.