51 years ago today, three bands started a four-night run at the Fillmore West.
The opening act was Allmen Joy. You can get lost in this kind of excavation. The Allman Brothers Band were famously known as The Allman Joys in one of their earlier configurations, but by May 15 of 1969, I'm pretty sure they were already The Allman Brothers. Turns out, there was a local psychedelic band in the late-60s called Allmen Joy, and they were the ones who opened the show. There is even a bootleg of a show they played in Denver in 1967, of which this is one song, a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators:
Next up was The Youngbloods. Known today primarily as the band who had the biggest hit with the evergreen hippie anthem "Get Together", in 1969 they released their third album, Elephant Mountain, which some of us think was their best. That album included their finest track, "Darkness Darkness", heard here from a March 1969 show:
"Darkness Darkness" has been covered by a variety of artists, including Mott the Hoople, Eric Burdon, Richie Havens, Screaming Trees, Golden Earring, Robert Plant, Cowboy Junkies, and Ann Wilson.
Santana was the headliners. In May of 1969, they were recording their first album. They were managed by Bill Graham, who got them a spot at the Woodstock festival three months after this Fillmore West gig. The rest, you could say, was history. (The video quality on this isn't the greatest, but it includes the entire "Soul Sacrifice" ... in the movie, the song was truncated.)
Santana's first album had yet to be released. They were known in the Bay Area ... Graham made sure of that ... but unknown on the other side of the country. I believe they were the only band to appear at that famous concert who did not have a record out. Drummer Michael Shrieve had just turned 20 (Wikipedia says he was the second-youngest performer at that show).
If you haven't had enough yet, here is the version of "Soul Sacrifice" that Shrieve himself says is the best. (I agree, although Woodstock gets points for its iconic status.) I believe the maracas player's name is Rico Reyes.
I never saw Allmen Joy. To be honest, until I started this post, I'd never heard of them. Never saw The Youngbloods, although I saw Jesse Colin Young solo in 1974. Finally saw Santana in 1977.