[this post continues the series about rock concerts at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in the 1960s]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of America's great cities, but its proximity to New York has always made an unfair comparison. Philadelphia has an exciting music history, and an exciting rock music history in the 1960s, but that history can only be documented in the most fragmented of places. These posts about the Electric Factory marks the beginning of my effort to organize and analyze Philadelphia rock history in the 1960s. There are considerably more dates to be found, but these posts will make a good starting point.
The Electric Factory, 2201 Arch Street
The Electric Factory, a former tire warehouse, opened in early 1968 at 2201 Arch. The owners were the Spivak brothers, all experienced bar owners in the Philadelphia area. Their booker was Larry Magid. They rapidly dominated the concert scene in Philadelphia, and the Electric Factory were the most important promoters in Philadelphia until they ultimately were purchased by larger corporate interests in the 1990s.
The Electric Factory was a critical stop on 60s concert tours, and an integral part of the "Premier Talent" (Booking Agency) circuit that included both Fillmores, the Boston Tea Party and Chicago's Kinetic Playground. Philadelphia was a big, important city and Philadelphia fans were not shy about showing their appreciation or displeasure (a trait that has endured). However, since the Electric Factory did not generally use posters with collectible art for advertisements, the venue has been somewhat lost to 60s rock history. There were many relatively trivial 60s venues that had a famous poster or two, often printed in The Art Of Rock or otherwise promulgated, that are recalled much more often than the Electric Factory. Outside of Philadelphia, the early history of the Electric Factory is largely ignored, and I am attempting to begin to correct that here.
This post represents my best efforts at determining late 1968 shows at the Electric Factory, as well as shows promoted by Electric Factory concerts. Anyone with additional information, insights, corrections or recovered memories (real or imagined) is encouraged to Comment or email me, and I will update the list accordingly. This post presents the lists of Electric Factory concerts from July through December 1968, as well as major Philadelphia rock events during that period.
(For earlier efforts at psychedelic ballrooms in Philadelphia as well as the first half of 1968 for the Electric Factory, see here)
Electric Factory, Philadelphia July-December 1968
I have almost no dates for the Electric Factory throughout the Summer of 1968. However, I believe they put on concerts every weekend, and probably many weekdays as well. They also probably put on at least some free concerts at the Belmont Plateau in nearby Fairmount Park. Nonetheless we have almost no record of any of these events. I am assuming that this was because the Electric Factory rarely used colorful, artistic posters to advertise the shows. Our knowledge of shows at venues like the Fillmore, the Avalon or Detroit's Grande Ballroom comes from the wonderful (and collectible) posters that lived on in dorm room walls long after the venues ceased operating. I think the Electric Factory advertised on the radio and with print-only ads in various newspapers, making it harder to discern their schedule.
This list includes what concerts I have found for the second half of 1968, and I have included a few other major Philadelphia rock concerts as well.
July 17, 1968 JFK Stadium The Rascals/Country Joe and The Fish/The Box Tops/Delfonics
Schmidt’s Beer Presents The Philadelphia Music Festival
I do not know if the Electric Factory had any involvement in this early effort to have a rock show in a huge football stadium, but I am including it anyway because it is such an interesting bill. The Rascals were a popular East Coast band, while Country Joe and The Fish were one of San Francisco's leading musical exports. The Box Tops, while in fact an excellent band, were marked as sort of a "pop" band, and The Delfonics were a major Philadelphia soul band. Their big hit at this time was "La-La-La Means I Love You."
This was quite a daring booking, as white rock and black R&b acts rarely played on the same bill, but I don't know anything about the concert itself. The show was on a Wednesday night. According to the excellent book The Who Concert File (McMichael and Lyons, Omnibus Press 1997), a series of concerts were held at JFK Stadium throughout the Summer (see July 24 below). I presume these concerts made up "The Philadelphia Music Festival."
JFK Stadium (formerly Philadelphia Municipal Stadium), at the far Southern end of Broad Street (at Pattison), was built in 1925 and had a maximum football capacity of 102,000. The Beatles had played there on August 16, 1966. From the late 1970s onward, many rock concerts were held in the stadium, most famously the American half of Live Aid (July 13, 1985). The stadium was torn down in 1992.
>July 19-21, 1968 Electric Factory Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac were booked for these shows, but canceled and never played them, as Mac had returned to England by July 18.
July 24, 1968 JFK Stadium The Who/The Troggs/Mandala/Pink Floyd/Friends of The Family
This seems to have been another part of the series of concerts at JFK Stadium. Pink Floyd had replaced Procol Harum, who couldn't get work visas. An attendee reports that rain began during Pink Floyd’s set, and there were no provisions to cover the stage, and the show was abruptly halted.
Once again this show was on a Wednesday night. I'd be very interested to find out who played the other shows of this "Festival."
I have been unable to find out anything about other Electric Factory concerts in the Summer of 1968. Its not impossible the venue took some kind of hiatus at some point, but I would be surprised if there weren't quite a number of shows yet to be found.
September 13-14, 1968 Electric Factory Butterfield Blues Band/Eric Andersen/American Dream
September 20-21, 1968 Electric Factory The Nazz/Velvet Underground/Colwell-Winfield Blues Band
By this time Todd Rundgren had joined The Nazz.
September 27-28, 1968 Electric Factory Amboy Dukes/James Cotton Blues Band/Elizabeth
October 4-5, 1968 Electric Factory Moby Grape/Albert King/Woody’s Truck Stop
October 16, 1968 Electric Factory John Mayall
From the Mayall Fan Club, via Christopher Hjort's fine book Strange Brew. Not confirmed—date approximate.
October 19, 1968 The Spectrum “Quaker City Rock Festival”
Big Brother and The Holding Company/Moby Grape/Vanilla Fudge/Buddy Guy/Chambers Brothers/others?
The Spectrum was at 3601 S. Broad Street, just across from JFK Stadium. It was an 18,000 capacity indoor arena that had opened in Fall 1967. Electric Factory promoter Larry Magid had put on the first event at the Spectrum, the Quaker City Jazz Festival, on September 30, 1967. The Spectrum was also home to the NBA's 76ers and the NHL's Flyers. The Quaker City Rock Festival appears to have been an effort to book some larger acts that may have been too big to play the Electric Factory.
There appears to have been two ‘Quaker City Rock Festivals’ at The Spectrum in 1968 (see December 6, 1968 below), and time seems to have confused the memories of various eyewitnesses.
October 25-26, 1968 Electric Factory Jeff Beck Group
November 1-2, 1968 Electric Factory Big Brother and The Holding Company
This must have been some weekend in Philadelphia, with Big Brother riding high on top of Cheap Thrills, and Cream on their 'Farewell Tour.'
November 1, 1968 The Spectrum Cream/Sweet Stavin Chain
This show was near the end of the American leg of Cream's 'Farewell Tour' (the last show was in Rhode Island on November 4). For some pictures of the show, see here. Note that Cream were in the center of the floor, on a revolving stage. Note also the comparatively tiny amount of equipment. Ginger Baker's drums seem to have very few or possibly no microphones.
November 7-8, 1968 Electric Factory Moody Blues/Ars Nova
November 15-16, 1968 Electric Factory Steppenwolf
From Billboard (Nov 16, 1968). Not necessarily a conflict with the Airplane, as they could have played together (below), although given Steppenwolf's popularity by this time it seems surprising that the bands would be double billed.
Novmeber 16, 1968 Electric Factory Jefferson Airplane
November 27-28, 1968 Electric Factory The Byrds/American Dream/Yum Yum
December 5, 1968 Civic Center Chambers Brothers/Spirit
The Philadelphia Civic Center, an Art Deco landmark at 3400 Civic Center Blvd (near U. Penn), was built in 1931 and was the main Philadelphia venue for sports and events until 1967 (The venue was also known as The Municipal Auditorium and The Convention Center, depending on the exact configuration). Once The Spectrum was complete, however, the building nearly became obsolete. However, the 12,000 capacity hall was still used for some events. It was torn down in 2005.
The Chambers Brothers were particularly big at this time, as their single "Time" had re-entered the charts.
December 6, 1968 The Spectrum “Quaker City Rock Festival”
Grateful Dead/Sly and The Family Stone/Iron Butterfly/Steppenwolf
Al Kooper remembers being the MC. Apparently Creedence Clearwater Revival canceled, but this edition Festival had a distinctly West Coast feel, with two bands from San Francisco and two from Los Angeles. This show was the Grateful Dead's first of 53 appearances at The Spectrum.
Various eyewitnesses remember The Chambers Brothers and Vanilla Fudge, but its not clear whether those bands played, or the memories were conflated with the previous Quaker City Rock Festival (see October 19, 1968), or else the Civic Center show from the day before.
December 29-30, 1968 Electric Factory Fleetwood Mac
Guitarist Rick Vito described seeing the group in Vintage Guitar, quoted at length in Chris Hjort’s Strange Brew. Apparently, the band was a Peter Green-led powerhouse the first night, and a Jeremy Spencer-led bunch of goofballs the second night.
Anyone with additional information about Philadelphia rock concerts in 1968 should Comment or email me, and I will update the posts accordingly. See here for shows at Philadelphia's Electric Factory in the first half of 1969.