This is wrong.

One of the most famous names in rock music history is now a brand: The Fillmore. It’s coming to a casino 75 miles from my South Mississippi home. Yeah, a freakin’ casino. That’s really wrong. Slots and roll. Ugh.

Bill Graham must be rolling over in his grave.

The New Orleans Fillmore on Tuesday shared this photo of Bill Graham on its Instagram account.
The New Orleans Fillmore on Tuesday shared this photo of Bill Graham on its Instagram account.

Graham, the promoter who died in a helicopter crash at age 60 in 1991, established the Fillmore West in San Francisco and the Fillmore East in New York City as premier counterculture concert halls during hippie heydays.

Bands who played the Fillmore West included Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Traffic and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and acts at the Fillmore East included Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, The Doors, The Who, the Allman Brothers, Miles Davis and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Classic live albums were recorded at both places and concert posters were works of psychedelic art.

As a South Mississippi teen in the late 1960s, I dreamed of attending shows at the Fillmore West and Fillmore East, but I never found a way to go to a concert at either place. Both closed in 1971 after opening in 1968.

I did see the shuttered Fillmore East in May 1974, when I visited New York to hang out with my Brooklyn friend, Crescenzo Capece, who pointed it out as we walked on Second Avenue at night in the East Village.

This is a screen shot of one of the images on the New Orleans Fillmore website.
This is a screen shot of one of the images on the New Orleans Fillmore website.

Today, the Fillmore is a growing franchise because of Live Nation. The entertainment company operates Fillmore venues in seven U.S. cities and will open one at Harrah’s Casino in downtown New Orleans in 2019.

The NOLA Harrah’s is one mile down Poydras Street from the Superdome and it’s best known to me for its affiliation with the sports bar and grill that Peyton and Eli Manning’s father owns.

Will I be going to the New Orleans Fillmore? I doubt it.

Based on the gamblers I’ve seen in Biloxi and Gulfport, the casino industry’s demographic must be nicotine addicts ages 50 to 95. I imagine the NOLA Fillmore target audience will be in the 50-95 demo, too.

If I go there for a concert, I bet I would see the awful sight of really old people nostalgic for feeling cool, young and trippy and hallucinating that they’re seeing on stage a 28-year-old Grace Slick singing “White Rabbit.”

I’m 66 and would consider myself a young buck looking at people older than me indulging in their fake Fillmore experience.

The only Fillmores that ever mattered were West and East and both opened 50 years ago.

Featured photo credit: The Detroit Fillmore marquee in September 2017.

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John E. Bialas
John, 66, is retired from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun Herald newspaper in Gulfport, Miss., after a 45-year career there in which he was a sportswriter, weekend sports editor, book reviewer, rock music critic, copy editor, blogger, Facebook administrator and award-winning headline writer and page designer. He lives in Gulfport with his wife, Patricia, and writes the blog Pictures of Tilly which you can find at http://picturesoftilly.net/.