Live at the Fillmore East and West: Getting Backstage and Personal with Rock’s Greatest Legends

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Live at the Fillmore East & West is an entertaining overview of the rock scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but it does not provide quite as much information as I expected. This book is not an account of all or most of the bands that played at the Fillmore East in New York City or at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Instead, it is a snapshot of the times, with particular focus given to—as noted on the cover—Bill Graham, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Carlos Santana. Your enjoyment in reading the book will depend on how interested you are in these four figures. So much has been written about Joplin that there’s nothing new here, and there’s likely too much about Bill Graham, as Glatt earlier wrote Rage & Roll: Bill Graham and the Selling of Rock.

Another issue is that in attempting to humanize these figures, there’s too much attention paid to their flaws, conflicts, and personal relationships; too little attention is paid to the music they created. As with most rock and roll stories, sex and drugs are overemphasized. Graham is quoted as stating that, “cocaine came in and cocaine ruined the music.” Even if this is true, focusing on musicians’ drug use grows boring quickly.

The most fascinating part of Live is the detailed explanation of how the Fillmore East came to be born. Fillmore West likely gets less attention than it deserves. It’s worth restating that the music fails to get the attention that it deserves in this book as well. Glatt’s account ends somewhat suddenly and anticlimatically with Graham’s accidental death.

Although Live lacks the depth and detail that its subtitle promises (“Getting Backstage and Personal with Rock’s Greatest Legends”), it nevertheless makes me want to read Glatt’s earlier rock book.


Reviewed By:

Author John Glatt
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 432 pages
Publisher Lyons Press
Publish Date 2014-Nov-02
ISBN 9780762788651
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2015
Category Music & Movies
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