The Who Live at the Fillmore East 1968

In April 1968 The Who had been on tour for a month in the US promoting their new LP The Who Sell Out when they played two nights at Bill Graham’s recently-opened rock venue in New York. A couple of days before, Martin Luther King had been shot dead in Memphis and there was civil unrest and unease on the city streets. Add to that, the fact that Pete, Roger, John and Keith had been turfed out of three hotels due to the escapades of Keith Moon setting off cherry bombs in his hotel rooms, it’s little wonder that this concert ever made it on to tape. Kit Lambert, the band’s co-manager recorded this and the previous night’s concert but the recordings had remained officially unreleased for 50 years. Until now, that is.

Remixed by The Who’s sound engineer Bob Pridden, who in the capacity of roadie, was present at those original shows, and remastered by Jon Astley, The Who Live at the Fillmore East 1968 sounds stunning and could easily become a rival to Live at Leeds as best live album of all time.

It was great to design the packaging for this album, historic and legendary as it was. The vinyl version was to be a traditional gatefold sleeve to house three records in card sleeves, so I decided to design a sleeve in a contemporary way rather than possibly go the more obvious route and produce a parody of 60s art. Last year I had seen the Jasper Johns exhibition at the Royal Academy and was very taken by Johns’ use of stencil type in his paintings. Add to the mix my love of the work of English letterpress designer Alan Kitching and here were the influences for my new ‘suit of clothes’ for this illustrious recording.

For the inner spread I looked at Linda McCartney’s archive of photographs of The Who which she had taken on 5 April 1968 at the Fillmore East. Back then, as Linda Eastman, she was one of the up-and-coming new breed of rock photographers. In her archive at MPL I found this fabulous image she had taken of the band outside the Fillmore East stage door on the afternoon of the first show – Pete, looking dog-tired or stoned –  or probably both, John, as always, holding it all together, and wearing just a hint of psychedelia in that groovy top, Keith looking decidedly sheepish as he wasn’t exactly in the rest of the band’s best books, and best of all, Roger, with his wonderful bouffant hair-style all held in place with Dippity-Do hair gel, having a fit of giggles.

Available on 3-LP and 2-CD set.

Client: Polydor Ltd. (UK) / UMC / Geffen Records