Musicologist Bobby Pinn provides the ultimate walking tours of New York’s East Village for rockoholics. Here are some of the highlights.
Bill Graham’s Fillmore East – the Second Avenue venue that witnessed legendary performances by The Allman Brothers Band, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (with John Lennon sitting in), the first performance of the Who’s Tommy and much more – is now a bank. It closed in 1971 after numerous underage drinking citations. The remaining evidence is a street sign designating this block Bill Graham Way, and an incredible street-post mosaic. Artist Mosaic Man (who has hand-decorated several posts in the neighborhood) created a tribute to those who performed here. It includes a piece of Pete Townshend’s smashed guitar.
How cool is this? The cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1977 Physical Graffiti album is this building. One entire floor was removed from the artwork (to fit the album space, but also, allegedly, to calm Jimmy Page’s concerns that this floor was where his dealer lived!) The fire plug and four trash cans are still there! This building is also seen in the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” video:
What was once rock club mecca CBGB is now this trendy boutique with $2,000 jackets for the new denizens of the East Village. The boutique (named for rock photographer John Varvatos) prudently preserved many of the walls: Every square inch is gloriously covered in graffiti and band stickers. Some of the walls are behind plexi-glass, but others are just bare. Somewhere in here was a sticker for my band Lawndale who played here in 1987. My son, Paul, a Ramones lover who has his own band The Rock Mummies, wrote his name on the wall before he was asked to leave by the store owners!