Winterland Ballroom

Winterland Ballroom

The Winterland Ballroom, often referred to as Winterland Arena or simply Winterland, was an old ice skating rink and 5,400 seat music venue in San Francisco, California. Located at the corner of Post Street and Steiner Street, it was converted to exclusive use as a music venue in 1971 by legendary rock promoter Bill Graham.


Winterland was built in 1928 for the then astronomical cost of $1 million. Opening on June 29, 1928, it was originally known as the "New Dreamland Auditorium." Sometime in the late 1930s, the name was changed to Winterland. In its early years it served as an ice skating rink that could be converted to an entertainment venue. Early acts/shows at Winterland included Shipstad and Johnson's Ice Follies. It also was host to opera, boxing, and tennis.

As a music venue

Starting with a 1966 double bill of Jefferson Airplane and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bill Graham began to occasionally rent the venue for larger concerts that his nearby Fillmore Auditorium could not properly accommodate. After closing his New York City venue known as the Fillmore East in 1971, he began to hold regular weekend shows at Winterland. Various popular rock acts played there, including such bands and musicians as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Rush, Genesis, Jefferson Airplane, and Elvis Costello, the latter in support of his "Armed Forces" album. A great number of the best-known rock acts from the 1960s and 1970s played Winterland or played two blocks away across Geary Boulevard at the original Fillmore Auditorium. Peter Frampton recorded parts of the 4th best-selling live album ever, "Frampton Comes Alive!", at Winterland. The Grateful Dead made Winterland their home base, and The Band played their famous last show there on Thanksgiving Day 1976. That concert, featuring numerous guest performers including Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and many others, was filmed by Martin Scorsese and released in theaters and as a soundtrack under the name "The Last Waltz". Winterland was also host to the Sex Pistols' final show on January 14, 1978.

Final concerts

During Winterland's final month of existence, shows were booked nearly every night. Acts included The Tubes, The Ramones, Smokey Robinson, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and on December 15-16, 1978, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Springsteen's December 15 show was simulcast on local radio station KSAN-FM and Springsteen historians consider that show one of his most legendary. Winterland closed on New Years 1978/79 with a concert by the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and The Blues Brothers. The show lasted for over eight hours, with the Grateful Dead's performance — documented on DVD and CD as "The Closing of Winterland" — lasting nearly six hours itself. The final show was simulcast on radio station KSAN-FM and also broadcast live on the local PBS TV station KQED. Winterland was eventually torn down in 1985, and was replaced by apartments.

Live recordings at Winterland

The following films and recordings were made in whole or in part at the Winterland Ballroom:

Concert films

*The Band - "The Last Waltz"
*Grateful Dead - "The Grateful Dead Movie", "The Closing of Winterland"
*KISS - ""
*Sex Pistols - "The Filth and the Fury"

Live albums

*The Allman Brothers Band - "Wipe the Windows, Check the Oil, Dollar Gas"
*Big Brother and the Holding Company - "Live at Winterland '68"
*Cream - "Wheels of Fire", "Live Cream", "Live Cream Volume II", "Those Were the Days"
*Electric Light Orchestra - "Live at Winterland '76"
*Peter Frampton - "Frampton Comes Alive!"
*Grateful Dead - "Steal Your Face", "Dick's Picks Volume 10", "So Many Roads (1965-1995),"The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack,The Closing of Winterland
*Jimi Hendrix - "Live at Winterland"
*Jefferson Airplane - "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland"
*Bruce Springsteen - "Live/1975–85"
*Sex Pistols - "Live at Winterland 1978" bootleg
*The Band - "The Last Waltz"

External links

* [ "Grateful Dead - The Closing of Winterland (2003)"]
* [ "SF Chronicle on Winterlands closing"]

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