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Book Review: Live at the Fillmore East: A Photographic Memoir
Amalie R. Rothschild, Thunder's Mouth Press
By Matthew S. Robinson
(more articles from this author)
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Title: Live at the Fillmore East: A Photographic Memoir
Author: Amalie R. Rothschild
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press
Pages:156 pages
Price: $40.00

From 1968 to 1971, the Fillmore East in New York was the eastern Mecca for music. Though its reign was short-lived, its legacy reverberates as loud and long as the music which once filled its halls.

Having once housed a Yiddish theater, the Fillmore was founded by Holocaust survivor, Catskill resort waiter and music industry legend Bill Graham. It was Graham's untimely death that prompted author Amalie Rothschild to reexamine the Fillmore.

Major stars came through the Fillmore stage doors - including Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Paul Butterfield, Frank Zappa and, of course, The Grateful Dead. All of their stories, and many more, have been captured and compiled by Fillmore rafter-rat-turned-staff photographer Amalie Rothschild. Rothschild had a personal role in helping the obsessively-driven impresario Graham turn rock music into rock theater night after night, assisting with the revolutionary light spectacles which accompanied the music. Though Rothschild has since gone on to shoot for such publications as Time, Life and Newsweek and to win a number of awards and accolades for her still and motion picture work, she recalls most fondly her days in the old Fillmore and still mourns its too-soon demise.

Cutting, splicing and hand-etching hundreds of yards of film, Rothschild selected from nearly 20,000 photographs she had taken at the Fillmore and at its traveling shows in Newport, Woodstock and other legendary venues. Many of these photos are being made public for the first time in the book and nearly all of them demonstrate a level of access and intimacy in the Fillmore's brief but vital history.

In addition to photos of music greats of the modern era, Rothschild turns her camera on the staff and the fans who made the Fillmore rock. As with her artist shots, Rothschild captures moments and places few others knew about with a close candidness.

The book also includes a complete list of every gig played at the Fillmore. "A culmination of years of work and passion," "Live at the Fillmore East" is a revealing chronicle of an almost mythological place, where music was art and art was everything.

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