IN THE HOUSE: JUNE 6,1969: THE WHO/ ALBERT KING/CHUCK BERRY @ FILLMORE EAST After finding out how easy it was to obtain tickets for shows at FILLMORE EAST, I ordered two seats for CHUCK BERRY and ALBERT KING for the Saturday night early show, June 6. I was especially looking forward to hearing Albert King live as I wore out his LIVE WIRE BLUES POWER album. The tickets arrived in record time. When I attended the Led Zeppelin show during Memorial Day weekend I looked for where I would be seated for the Albert King show(fourth row aisle seat on the left).Too cool, really nice sight lines. Then it happened. At the Led Zeppelin show, a stage announcement was made by Kip Cohen, stage manager, that an additional act would be added to the Albert King Chuck Berry bill, headlining now would be…. THE WHO. OMG… I was ecstatic…But How?
Actually, The Who had played the Fillmore East only two weeks prior to the Led Zeppelin show. During their performance that weekend a fire occurred in the adjoining building. A Fire Marshall, not in uniform, attempted to evacuate the premises of the Fillmore by taking the stage. Pete Townshend ,The Who’s guitarist, got into an altercation with the “undercover” official. Townshend thinking that this guy was a nut job hit the guy and an arrest of Pete Townshend abruptly ended the show. So this new show, the one I had two tickets for, was labeled as THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE WHO.
Their album ,TOMMY, which has been labeled a “rock opera” was released only a few short days(May23) before this rescheduled performance and the songs from TOMMY were already in heavy rotation on the radio. So there I sat four rows back from Albert King, he dressed to the nines in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, while playing a short but sweet set on his Flying V guitar, BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN, PERSONAL MANAGER,AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY and STORMY MONDAY. I was amazed at his performance, his grace, and his size, the man was HUGE. Chuck Berry, a rock and roll legend was up next doing what I found out years later was his traditional set list. It was nothing outstanding for my eyes and ears except seeing him doing his duck walk. Chuck was a visual performer and closed with MY DING A LING a really stupid sing along song which I found embarrassing. He reappeared for an encore and was gone and forgotten by me almost that quickly.
THE WHO on the other hand was fantastic. I sat in awe the entire time, mouth opened kind of awe, brought on by the sheer power of the band. Daltry,bared chested, drabbed with a fringed vest was swinging his microphone, Townshend windmilling on the guitar, Entwistle’s magical fingers running up and down the frets on his bass, and then Keith Moon on the kit, all amazing, and so very loud. CAN’T EXPLAIN, New TOMMY stuff, SUMMERTIME BLUES, MAGIC BUS, needless to say my very limited concert experiences just had a new threshold to beat and that would be… THE WHO. Live music to me became a real education and soon an obsession.