Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mammoth Gardens, Denver, CO Performance List April-October 1970

The various corporate mergers of LiveNation and SFX has led to a national "re-branding" of small rock concert venues around the country as "Fillmores." While some venues with the name Fillmore have little in the way of rock history, the Denver Fillmore at 1510 Clarkson Street, which opened in 1999, actually has a somewhat interesting history of rock concerts for a brief period in 1970. While it is not hard to find out a brief history of the building, I could not find a record of 1970 rock performances at the venue, so I will rectify that as best I can.

Briefy, the building opened in 1907 as a skating rink, then became a manufacturing site for electric cars and car batteries. From 1935 to 1962 it was the Mammoth Gardens, an all-purpose sports arena. After several years as a warehouse, it was purchased by Stuart Green with the express purpose of emulating Bill Graham's Fillmore. Chet Helms had opened a branch of his Family Dog in 1967, but constant police harassment had led to its financial demise. Nonetheless, due to its location on I-70 and near I-80, Denver remained an important stop on the rock circuit. Green opened for business in the Spring of 1970.

What follows is my working list of Mammoth Gardens shows. There are many gaps, and I do not know if there are missing shows of if the venue was dark for certain weekends. Anyone with knowledge of additional shows please Comment or email me.

Mammoth Gardens 1970 Performances

April 11-12, 1970  Spirit/Van Morrison (canceled show)
April 17-18, 1970  Clouds/Zephyr
This was the opening night of Mammoth Gardens. Zephyr featured guitarist Tommy Bolin, and was the the leading band from Boulder, Colorado.

April 24-25, 1970 Grateful Dead/John Hammond
April 28, 1970 Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen
May 15-16, 1970 Mountain/Shocking Blue/Blues Image
May 22-23, 1970 Eric Burdon & War/Fever Tree
May 29-30, 1970 John Sebastian/Poco/Ballin Jack
Headliner Grand Funk Railroad canceled.

June 5-6, 1970 Spirit/Pentangle/Gypsy
June 9-10, 1970 The Who
June 26-27, 1970 Iron Butterfly/Black Oak Arkansas
July 3-4, 1970 60,000,00 Buffalo/Deep Rock/Jasmine and Mystic Moods
 “Audition Night” Presumably these were local bands.

July 10-11, 1970 Terry Reid/Jerry Hahn Brotherhood
July 17, 1970 Leon Russell/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
July 29, 1970  Procol Harum
I am missing a large block of dates here.

September 12, 1970 Johnny Winter/Brownsville Station
September 16-17, 1970 Santana/Country Joe McDonald/Bread
October 2-3, 1970 Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids/Illusion
October 6, 1970 Van Morrison/Sugarloaf/John Mayall
October 9, 1970 Spirit
October 17, 1970 Linda Ronstadt/Black Oak Arkansas
October 23, 1970 Leon Russell/Clouds
October 31, 1970 Steve Miller Band

 I am not certain that this last concert was played.

November 11, 1970 Derek and The Dominoes (canceled)
The city of Denver blamed the concert venue for the general decline of the neighborhood. The venue closed and the building was apparently boarded up by this time. 

After various uses, the venue re-opened as a concert site in 1986. In 1999 the building's name was changed from Mammoth Gardens to The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver.


  1. In addition to the September 17, 1970 show, Santana, Country Joe McDonald and Bread (who also played the 17th) played on September 16.

  2. It was a good year for concerts.
    I was at so many of these shows, in fact, the only ones I missed were Steve Miller, Van Morrison and Flash Cadillac. I wish I had saved my Derek and the Dominoes tickets.
    I do not remember which month, but Jethro Tull played two nights in a row, and I was at both. Correct me if I am wrong, but I could swear that Shocking Blue did not show up for their show in May of 1970.

    1. Fri & Sat April 17th & 18th with Clouds & Zephyr

  3. Jim Pagliasotti,"Mammoth Gardens Opening Success, with Too Many Bodies," Denver Post, April 24, 1970, p. 30.

    This piece makes it seem pretty clear that Jethro Tull played the opening, with Zephyr lower down the bill.

  4. Yes the April 16, 1970 Chinook newspaper has Tull/Zephyr/Clouds for April 17 & 18, 1970. Also, Cilicious is correct Shocking Blue did not appear with Mountain & Blues Image May 15 & 16, 1970, as they experienced visa issues. This from a review of the show in the May 21, 1970 Chinook.

  5. Corry, I have entered these in my spreadsheets.

  6. Tommy Bolin and members of Zephyr were my friends when living in Boulder. In the summer of 69 possibly 70 he personally invited me to Mammoth Gardens for an incredibly big show. Zephyr opened, then Ten Years After, followed by Free, and finally Joe Cocker. I've searched, but can find no noted details of this show. This hippies memory ain't what it used to be, but this was a huge show.

  7. Jeffery, the memory of being at Mammoth (as such) in summer 1969 doesn't line up with the April 1970 grand opening reported in the post (cited above).

    Doesn't mean there weren't shows in that room before April 1970, of course, but is there any chance it was the next summer?

    If I had multiple lifetimes, I'd love to research and write a book about Denver-Boulder music in the late 1960s. There is that one documentary that was made, name is slipping my mind right now.

  8. This article was very helpful. I was trying to remember the concerts I'd been to at M.G. It was a great venue. Thanks to the commenters who cleared up the Jethro Tull concert and brought back memories of seeing Ten Years After, as well. I'd just viewed a U Tube video of Zephyr and just couldn't pull up a memory of seeing them, though I knew the name. Needless to repeat the adage, "If you remember the 60's, you probably weren't there." which is true of 1970 as well.

  9. I saw The Who at Mammoth in addition to a few of the others. Most memorable for me were Jethro Tull and The Who. I'm not certain of the year, let alone the month and date. Sorry I can't be of more help but many, I'm sure, understand how that era can be blurred. Same subject but different aspect of rock history, pretty sure I remember seeing The Doors and Big Brother & The Holding Company (with JJ of course) at The Family Dog, if you're researching TFD, also.

    Anybody remember Led Zepplin having 3rd billing (could have been 2nd) at the auditorium (I think)? I remember being blown away as I'd never heard of them before that concert (with Spirit & Vanilla Fudge?).

    1. yes I was at the Led Zeppelin concert in 1968 They were 3rd billing with vanilla fudge and spirit.Barry fey writes about this in his book "Backstage Past" quite a story

  10. I was at the July 29th, 1970 Procol Harum show. Leon Russell played second as I recall. No idea who opened.

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  12. Barry Fey sold too many tickets for The Who and had to bring bring him back the second night to accommodate everybody there is some pissed-off people

  13. What a great resource you have created. I went to the University of Denver from 1969-1971 and attended dozens of concerts at Mammoth Gardens, Red Rocks, Tulagi's, and other venues.

    The concert you listed for September 16-17, 1970 Santana/Country Joe actually included Santana who were on a promotional tour for their 2nd album, Abraxis. Eric opened, Country Joe came out between the two major acts and played a few acoustic songs and told some jokes, and Santana followed. I have kept journals since 1969 believe it or not and have this concert documented. Even though I might have been a bit too altered to write it down correctly I think it was all in one show, not two as listed above.

    1. Thanks for the eyewitness account. Sometimes two shows were booked, but not enough tickets get sold.

      Who was the "Eric" who opened? It wasn't Bread?

      If you ever post the journal entries for your concert attendance, let me know!