Richard Lloyd of Television on Conniving His Way Into the Iconic Hall: Book Excerpt
As a budding musician, Richard Lloyd, the former guitarist, singer and songwriter of the band Television, attended many Fillmore East shows without buying a ticket. In this excerpt from the book Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever, Lloyd recalls his ploys to get the best seat in the house: backstage at Fillmore East.
Richard Lloyd: My best friend at the time was the protégé of Jimi Hendrix. So we hung out a lot with Jimi and could always go to the Fillmore East. Velvet [Turner] was the guy’s name. And he could imitate Jimi exactly.
So over the phone, he would call the Fillmore and say, “I’m coming down and I have some guests that may come separately, could you put them on the guestlist?” And we would get in that way.
‘Till one day Velvet was calling in the afternoon and the guy said, “I know who this is, ’cause Jimi’s in Hawaii, I just got off the phone with him. You guys are banned from the Fillmore.” And that lasted about two weeks until we finagled our way in again.
We would go by the stage door and wait for the rock acts to come in and go in with them. By being polite and asking or just walking in with them.
The second time I went to see the Grateful Dead, I went to the soundcheck. There was no security there, so I walked in. They were doing the soundcheck and in between songs I said, “Hey Jerry, I’m a school kid and I want to see you guys but I don’t have the money for it. Can you put me on your guest list?”
And he said, “No, mine is full of business people, you know how it is. Hey, Phil!” And it was Phil Lesh. “You got room on your guest list?” He said, “I don’t know anybody in New York. Sure.”
I saw a number of jams backstage. I was interested in the artists. Basically, I kept my mouth shut and I was just a fly on the wall. I figured I would last longer than if I was rowdy and tried to be friends with these artists who were coming through.
I would have ended up getting kicked out. I didn’t want that so I just sat quietly and watched very carefully because I wanted to absorb some of whatever charisma these people had.
I saw, with The Who, Pete Townshend was jamming with John Sebastian in the hallway. Keith Moon wanted to join in but of course, the drums were on stage so he said, “Bring me boxes.” I got cardboard boxes, which he proceeded to play the hell out of.
Mastropolo is the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever and New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make New York Rock, selected by Best Classic Bands as two of the Best Music Books of 2021 and 2022.
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