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Historic Irving Plaza Returns To Its Maiden Name

NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — After spending three years as the “Fillmore,” one of Manhattan’s rock landmarks is returning to its original name, “Irving Plaza.”

As part of a nationwide branding campaign, owner Live Nation, renamed the venue the “Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza,” in April 2007. However, the wordy name never caught on, and after “unrelenting demand” from fans, Live Nation is restoring the old name and installing a replica of the old marquee according to the New York Times.

Long Island ‘emo’ band, Taking Back Sunday, will christen the renamed venue on June 23.

“It’s always going to be Irving Plaza in New Yorkers’ minds,” said Kevin Morrow, president of Live Nation’s New York division. “That’s where the mistake was made: taking a name and putting it on a building that already had a history and emotional ties with the local music scene,” according to the New York Times.

The change is a rare admission of misjudgment by Live Nation, a giant worldwide promoter. But since the company merged with Ticketmaster this year, its every move has been scrutinized, and Mr. Morrow — who began running Live Nation’s operations in New York a few months after the name change — said the restoration of the old name was part of a companywide effort to improve its image according to the New York Times.

Changing the New York venue to the Fillmore was one of many “Fillmore” renames by Live Nation, in an attempt to create a network of clubs after San Francisco Fillmore, where Bill Graham got his start. Other Fillmores included the historic State Theatre of Detroit, and the Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia, whose run as the Fillmore lasted less than one year.

Before being purchased by the Polish Veterans Association of America in 1948, the venue served as a Yiddish theatre and burlesque house with names such as Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly gracing the stage. Irving Plaza fans considered the venue sacred and authentic as one of the few spots to avoid rebranding, until the 2007 name change.

With a capacity of about 1,000, Irving served as a rite of passage for rock bands on their way up such as the Police and B-52s, and by 1978 promoters began booking it for punk and new-wave shows. Since then, superstars such as Bob Dylan, U2 and Prince have used the venue to play exclusive, and therefore buzz-generating, shows.

Mr. Morrow, 56, a former artist manager and executive at the House of Blues chain — which was bought by Live Nation in 2007 for $350 million — said that fans, musicians and people in the music business had never stopped lobbying him to return the club to its old name, and that he was happy to oblige them according to the New York Times.

“Since I’ve been here I haven’t had anyone say to me, ‘What a great idea that was,’ ” he said, referring to the Fillmore name. “Almost everybody I talk to in the New York music scene, one of their first experiences was at Irving Plaza. And I’m really excited to be able to bring back to the New York music scene what people have overwhelmingly desired,” according to the New York Times. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers