Winterland Ballroom

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"Winterland" redirects here. For other uses, see Winterland (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 37°47′6.13″N 122°26′5.6″W / 37.7850361°N 122.434889°W / 37.7850361; -122.434889

Winterland Ballroom
The Last Waltz.jpg
The Band playing at the Winterland Ballroom on Thanksgiving Day, 1976.
Location 2101 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California
Coordinates 37.785727, -122.435046
Owner Bill Graham (1971-1978)
Capacity 5,400 (1971-1978)
Opened June 29th, 1928
Renovated 1971 (Converted exclusively to music venue)
Closed December 31st, 1978
Demolished 1985

Winterland Ballroom (often referred to as Winterland Arena or simply Winterland) was an ice skating rink and 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 concert promoter Bill Graham and became a common performance site for many famous rock artists. Graham later formed a merchandising company called Winterland which sold concert shirts, memorabilia, and official sports team merchandise.


Winterland was built in 1928 for the then astronomical cost of $1 million (equivalent to $13.95 million in 2016) and successfully remained operating through the turmoil of the Great Depression in spite of the unheard of costs at the time. Opened on June 29, 1928, it was originally known as the New Dreamland Auditorium.[1] Sometime in the late 1930s, the name was changed to Winterland. It served as an ice skating rink which was convertible into a seated entertainment venue. Early acts/shows at Winterland included Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies. In November 1944 it played host to an authorized production (but somewhat americanized) of the Folies Bergère.[2] It also was host to opera, and boxing and tennis matches.

As a music venue[edit]

Starting with a 1966 double bill of Jefferson Airplane and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bill Graham began to rent the venue occasionally for larger concerts that his nearby Fillmore Auditorium could not properly accommodate. After closing the Fillmore West 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 J. Geils Band, The Who, Queen, Slade, Boston, Cream, Yes, Kiss, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Van Morrison, The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, The Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company w/ Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Ten Years After, Rush, Electric Light Orchestra, Genesis, Jefferson Airplane, Traffic, Golden Earring, Grand Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Robin Trower, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Sha Na Na, Loggins and Messina, Lee Michaels, Heart, Journey, Deep Purple, J.J. Cale, Spirit, Chambers Brothers, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Foghat, Mountain, B.B. King, and Elvis Costello. Led Zeppelin first performed their song Whole Lotta Love there. Many of the best-known rock acts from the 1960s and 1970s played at Winterland or played two blocks away across Geary Boulevard at the original Fillmore Auditorium. Peter Frampton recorded parts of the fourth 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. A concert at the music venue in 1973 hosted by the Grateful Dead was mentioned in the film The Presidio by Jay Austin (Mark Harmon) as being his first show and being a Deadhead since.

Final concerts[edit]

During Winterland's final month of existence, shows were booked nearly every night. Acts included The Tubes,[3] 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 1978/1979 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[edit]

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

Concert films[edit]

Live albums[edit]


External links[edit]