The lion atop Fowler’s Live is a well-known icon of the City of Adelaide and provides a hint to the building’s former use. In 1854, David and James Fowler opened a retail shop in King William Street. The business grew rapidly and by the 1880s, offices had been established in London and Fremantle. The British Journal of Commerce observed in 1880 that the firm’s well-known 'lion' trademark, was “accepted throughout the Australian colonies as a synonym for the highest state of excellence and purity in preserved fruits, jams, pickles, sauces, etc”. By the early 1900s, the expanding wholesale grocery business needed a new factory, and in 1906, the company’s new brick building on North Terrace was completed.
From the mid 1900s the factory became vacant, and it was not until the 1970s that the space was revived- not as a factory but as the Adelaide Fringe Festival’s head office and performance spaces, including for live music. From 2000 to 2002 ‘Music House’, a government initiative to create a hub for the music industry, occupied Level 1 of Fowler’s. On 4 July 2003, Fowler’s Live, the music venue, opened.
Since the 1970s, Fowler’s has hosted a wide array of live music. Many memorable acts have performed onstage here including The Bellrays, Paul Dempsey, Deez Nuts, Ben Kweller, and Sonic Youth. The venue lent its name to the Fowler’s Live Music Awards, established in 2012 and running to 2014. In 2015 the awards were re-branded the South Australian Music Awards.
Today, Fowler’s Live continues to welcome a range of musical acts to its stage for audiences of all ages. It is perhaps best known at the moment for Rock/Hardcore/Metal gigs.