If Cream had any thoughts of disbanding, they were quickly abandoned once they hit the Fillmore.|
It was August of 1967, the "summer of love" and San Francisco was the place to be.
Cream began their first tour of America on August 22, at Bill Graham's Fillmore West.
Three dollars was enough to buy a ticket, and the place was packed to the rafters.
The Fillmore was sold out for five straight nights, after which Bill Graham gave each member of the band a gold watch.
The band's stay was then extended from August 29 to September 3 (they had the night off on August 28!)
It was at the Fillmore that Cream first began to expand their songs on stage. Up until that time the numbers had run more or less
the same length as the recorded versions.
(Of course, even Cream's studio recordings ran longer than the two and a half or three minutes that was the norm at that time).
The extended times were a combination of both necessity and good promotion.
The group quickly ran out of numbers for their encores, in fact they often played the same song twice.
The audience didn't seem to mind, but it did indicate how shallow was their pool of material.
Bill Graham knew that the audience was captivated by Cream, and Eric had told him that the band was frustrated at not having
enough time to "build" on their work, so Graham gave the band carte blanche to have an open ended program."Go on and play
and do it your way. If you want to play Spoonful from night until dawn, do it".
After leaving the Fillmore, Cream played such venues as the Whisky A Go Go, and the Psychedelic Supermarket,
ending their first tour of America on October 15 at the Grande Ballroom, in Detroit, Michigan.
Cream were probably at their peak at this time. The tensions which would eventually lead to the demise of the
band had not yet bubbled to the surface. The lads were still enjoying each other's company, both on and off stage.
Jack and Ginger drove Eric to greater heights, and he responded.
Unlike Hendrix, who seemed to challenge his rhythm section to keep up with him, Eric was pushed by his. But, it
was still fun, it had not yet become "work".
Unfortunately, there are no official recordings of the group's first tour (although, Creamset, was recorded at the
Grande Ballroom shows).
Cream at the Fillmore in '67. (Photo courtesy of George Manney at GeoSound)
|Before embarking on a short Scandinavian tour in November, the group played at what must surely be their strangest venue, the Silver |
Blades Ice Rink in Streatham. Cream played while their audience skated around the rink.
Photo; Cream in the office of the Silver Blades Ice Rink
Cream then flew to Chicago for a private concert. A business magnate had asked his daughter who she wanted to play at her "coming-out"
party and she had asked for Cream.
Stigwood was not about to turn down the money, so Cream it was! The band played at the debutant's ball on December 20.
Cream finished off the year by returning to the Grande Ballroom for shows on December 22 and 23.
1) The first five nights at the Fillmore, from August twenty second through the twenty seventh, Cream shared the bill with
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. From the twenty ninth|
through to the third of September, they shared the bill with Electric Flag and Gary Burton.
2) Bill Graham produced shows at the "original" Fillmore from December 10, 1965 to July 4, 1968.
The venue became special, a favourite with fans and artists alike.
"There was very much a whole kind of Fillmore energy coming off the audience that combined with the band," Eric remembers. "When we played the Fillmore for the first time, the
band was in the light show. If you were in the audience, you didn't know who was playing. Not at all. It was a sensory thing."
3) Bill Graham was justifiably proud of his accomplishment. "The greatest compliment I was ever given came at The Fillmore. It was Cream and the Butterfield Blues Band. I just
happened to go into the rest room during a break. I was standing at the middle urinal when two guys came in after me, one on either side...right out of the blue, one said, 'I forgot.
Who's playing here tonight?' Without batting an eyelash, the other guy said, 'I don't know, man. What's the difference? It's The Fillmore'."
4) Bill said farewell to The Fillmore on the fourth of July, 1968, with a show featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, and It's a Beautifal Day.
The audience for the music had mushroomed, and the shows moved to the Carousel Ballroom (later renamed the Fillmore West) and the Winterland.
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