geezer cinema: midnight special (jeff nichols, 2016)
martha marcy may marlene (sean durkin, 2011)

music friday: fillmore west, october 16, 1969

It was the first of a four-night stand at the Fillmore. Opening the show was The Move. The Move are best known as a precursor to the Electric Light Orchestra, which at the beginning included three members of The Move: group leader Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, and Bev Bevan. I can't be sure, but I don't think Lynne was in the band yet when they appeared at Fillmore West. I believe they were much bigger in the U.K. than in the States. In 2011, they released an album, Live at the Fillmore 1969, taken from these shows.

Next up was Little Richard. A month earlier, Richard had appeared at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. To some critics, this performance revitalized his career. He was only 36, although he was likely considered an oldies artist by then. (For reference, Katy Perry will be 36 in a couple of weeks, Avril Lavigne is already there.) John Lennon was a surprise performer at the show, and he demanded that Richard hit the stage before the Plastic Ono Band. Bumps Blackwell describes what happened, in Charles White's great The Life and Times of Little Richard:

When Richard hit that stage … oh, man! I had double-miked the guitar and the piano and put the mike right inside the saxophone. Richard hit the stage with the spotlights on him and jumped up on top of the piano. He did everything he knew. He got that crowd just screaming. He invited people onto the stage to dance. He whipped the audience into a frenzy. And boy, when Richard finished, he laid the audience out so much that when Lennon and Yoko came on, they were washed out. Lennon and his band did some Rock’n’Roll numbers, but I felt sorry for them trying to follow a giant like Richard.

At those Fillmore West shows, it was left to Joe Cocker and the Grease Band to follow Richard. It was soon after Woodstock, and might have seen some of the last shows Joe played with the Grease Band. My memory is that Woodstock didn't really hit everyone's world until the movie and album came out, so I don't know the crowd at Fillmore West realized how big Cocker was about to be. He had already released one album in 1969, and a second came out in November. Here is the title track from that first album:

I guess if anyone was going to follow Little Richard in 1969 without embarrassing themselves, it would have been Joe Cocker.


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