Bobby Whitlock and Dave Mason are among the handful of musicians who performed at Fillmore East as members of different bands. Mason appeared at the historic concert hall in April 1968 as a member of Traffic. The guitarist-bassist returned in January 1971 with Cass Elliot, who had left the Mamas & the Papas.
Bobby Whitlock, one of the best keyboardists in rock, appeared with Derek and the Dominos, Eric Clapton’s short-lived band, in October 1970. Whitlock first played Fillmore East as a founding member of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, fronted by Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. Mason, Clapton, Duane Allman and George Harrison were among the “Friends” who performed with the group over time. Between 1969 and 1971, Delaney & Bonnie appeared at Fillmore East for four weekends.
In this excerpt from the book Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever, Mason and Whitlock recall their times with Delaney & Bonnie.
Dave Mason: Delaney had an alcohol problem. And he was a nasty alcoholic. He wasn’t a fun alcoholic. He was nasty. So, he was a handful at times. But otherwise, he’d churn out a couple of songs a day. And the three of those singing together, him, Bobby Whitlock, and Bonnie, just the three of them with a couple of acoustic guitars, was just awesome. It was just something.
Bobby Whitlock: Those dates were huge for Delaney & Bonnie. We were suddenly going to play the Fillmore East? It was like, hell yeah, this is gonna be way, way cool.
When we pulled up there in the bus, it was freezing cold, there were blocks of ice on the side of the street, three feet tall and wide. And there was a guy who was out there and he had this beautiful leather shirt on. He was with his girlfriend, looking for tickets. I told the bus driver, “Hold it right here, man, I’m gonna get that shirt.” It had long fringe on it.
I jumped down, I had two tickets and two backstage passes. And I said, “I’ll give you the shirt and the coat off my back right now for that shirt that you got on, and here’s two tickets and two backstage passes.”
And he peeled it off right then and there. I came back on the bus and everybody was applauding. And I wore it on Eric Clapton’s first solo album cover.
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 NYC Rock, selected by Best Classic Bands as two of the Best Music Books of 2021 and 2022.
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