Saturday, June 26, 2010

2201 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA The Electric Factory: Concert List July-December 1968 (Philadelphia II)

[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.


  1. Trivial but Woody's Truck Stop also played the July 17 show.

  2. a) July 24, 1968: "The English Invasion", staged as part of The Philadelphia Music Festival, originally advertised with The Who (headline), The Troggs and Procol Harum, but the latter two groups were replaced by Pink Floyd, Mandala and Friends Of The Family. Friends Of The Family and Pink Floyd were the only two bands to appear at this outdoor show. When the third band on the bill, Mandala, began their set a lightning strike hit the stage and forced the closure of the event.

    b) As I said in my previous comments on "Philadelphia Part.I" post on this blog, Procol Harum never played at the Electric Factory during 1968. The gig with Edison Electric Company is not in "late 1968" but on March 30, 1969.

  3. Thanks Bruno. I took the Procol Harum reference out, and it will appear in the 1969 list.

  4. Hi - First I want to ask where do I access the posting of earlier part of this series?
    I tried but couldn't find it. . .

    I was a teenaged girl living in south jersey when the EF was in full swing. I remember seeing elton john on his first u.s. tour - 1971(?). He in fact walked right by me on his way to the stage from the back of the hall - wearing a tri-corner hat. Saw Bonnie & Delaney there quite a bit, also BB King, Tracey ___and Mother Earth, Neil Young with Crazy Horse. I was there the night that they announced Jimi had died - can't remember who was playing though.

    Saw some great music at the Spectrum too - Who with James Gang, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Doors, Led Zeppelin, Traffic on & on . . .
    Dr. Dale

  5. Sorry, there should have been a back link there (I put it in). In general the tag "Philadelphia" would cover it.

    The first part of 1968 is here

  6. July 24, 1968: "The English Invasion". I was there for that. The thunder and lightning made the Pink Floyd set memorable, and being soaked through & through by the rain in july was fun in a 60s kinda way. They offered free tickets to the show two days later, billed as the "American Something ....." All I can remember was that Mitch Ryder was on the bill.

  7. Does anyone know what date in 1969 the Jefferson Airplane played at the Electric Factory?


  8. I know the Airplane played the Palestra (at U Penn) on Nov 21, 1969, but I don't know of a 69 EF Airplane show. Did you attend one? I'd love to try and pin it down.

  9. I'm almost positive I saw Procol Harum play the Factory in 1968 a few months after it opened.
    I also remember Ten Years After opening for Jeff Beck.

  10. Another one of the JFK shows had The Who, Traffic, The Nice and local bands, but it rained about an hour or two before the show and it was canceled.
    Thanks Corry342 for the date of the Airplane Palestra show. I have a picture of myself on stage with them while they were playing from that night.

  11. Does anyone recall the Pink Floyd shows at the EFC on April 17 & 18 1970? They did 2 shows each day and was known as THE MAN AND THE JOURNEY tour. Anybody recall the show times?

  12. Chiller,

    a couple of notes:

    (a) Procol Harum played at Electric Factory on March 30, 1969 with Edison Electric Company also on the bill.

    (b) You're right about TYA....they (and American Dream) opened for The Jeff Beck Group at the Electric Factory on October 25-26, 1968.

  13. lady greyeyes,

    Pink Floyd at Electric Factory on April 17-18, 1970: Two shows, at 8:00pm and 11:00pm, supported by Insect Trust.

  14. 1968, I saw Cream (Clapton, Bruce and Baker)perform in Philly and I could swear the venue was called The Ben Franklin, but I could be wrong. The hall had no seats, just a large sloped floor with the stage at bottom.
    Ginger Baker did a 45 minute rendition of Toad, including stops to chug a few quarts of beer. I was in awe of his performance.
    I remember the concert well, I still have the scar on my forhead where Baker's drumstick hit me. He used to break and then toss them out in the crowd, I didn't duck fast enough. I wasn't feeling any pain at the time :)

  15. drmeta, I think the "symbol" of the Electric Factory was a sort of stylized drawing of Ben Franklin (and it's near the Ben Franklin Bridge, right?), so I wouldn't be surprised if "Ben Franklin's" was an informal nickname, or maybe even a semi-official one. A very interesting tidbit indeed. Thanks for the great recollection.

  16. I'm 99.44% sure the opening act at the 11/168 Cream concert was Terry Reed. I remember my brother really got into him.
    Otherwise, as well as I cam recall that period, this is a fantastic site, glad I found it.

    1. Absolutely correct!
      Terry Reid was the opening act. he was huge in England & waqs well known as a touring act here although his records didn't catch on. He's mainly remembered for turning down the lead singer spot in Led Zeppelin. His own career was doing so well he didn't want to start from scratch with a new band.Terry reid played as a trio. Him on guitar & vocals,a Hammond B3 player,& a drummer.One of those guys who "almost" became really big. Talented guy!

  17. Boy, Cream and Terry Reid. That would have been some show. Terry Reid was really great--still is, actually--but he's one of those great 60s talents who didn't get his due.

    Thanks for commenting, and adding the kind words.

  18. I was "seamstress for the bands" at the summer long Philadelphia Music Festival at JFK Stadium in 1968. I had gotten stuck in Philly after my hitch-hiking partner dumped me to return home to Swarthmore,PA. I had met him in Berkeley, CA. where I was from. I tried to get County Joe McDonald to give me a ride back to Berkeley on his plane but they were on tour and headed up to New York from there.
    I made it back to San Francisco about a month later and was never happier to be back home! Greenwich Village and the east was a trip but my hearts in San Francisco.
    Like most of the 60's I don't remember many of the details of the concerts cept we spent a lot of time building geodesic domes in the infield to be used as dressing rooms and it rained a lot.
    I spent time with Pink Floyd in their dome before they went on stage. They told me that people had to come to see a show and they were going to give them one rain or not. Pretty cool guys........

  19. I attended the first Quaker city Rock Festival at the Spectrum in October 1968. I was 16 and we smoked cigarettes with Chinese tea and aspirin crushed in it. Yikes! I remember seeing Janis with Big Brother and the Chambers Brothers whose "Time Has Come Today" had come out. Also the Vanilla Fudge doing psychedelic versions of soul songs and the legendary blues man Buddy Guy. What a show!

  20. New gig!

    November 23, 1968: Rhinoceros

  21. Steve Lyman, guitarist of SRC, tell me that he remember a show at the Electric Factory with Albert Collins also on the bill, during the last week of October 1968, before SRC went to Boston to play at the Tea Party on October 31.

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  23. Vanilla Fudge played at the Electric Factory in 1968. I know because I was there. Can't recall the date though...early fall maybe. I remember it vividly. My then wife and I made a stop in center city at the apartment of a friend on our way to the performance. Six of us were going together. Before leaving his place, we all smoked grass. I had begun smoking a few months before this but with little effect. At first, I wasn't feeling much effect that night either. But as we walked to EC I began to feel a buzz. By the time we arrived, the grass had definitely hit me.
    We walked in between sets, so the sound system was playing recorded music. It was incredibly loud and I'll never forget the song; Tracy Nelson singing "Down So Low". Strobe was firing, people were dancing or watching other people dancing. Everyone seemed to be high and it felt good to be high along with them.
    When the band came out and began to play it was sensory overload. They opened with their version of "Keep Me Hanging On". This song was on the charts by the Supremes and their was the usual bubble gum type stuff...boring. The Fudge started off by doing a riff on Beethoven's Fur Elise which rolled right into the song. That was the first time I really began to understand acid rock. It was great. I also have a memory of the drummer, Carmine Appice (who is still around) going into a solo. I was amazed to see the other band members leave the stage while he played like seemed forever.

    At later dates I recall seeing shows by The Who, (the security said it was the loudest band that had ever played there when I talked to him outside, where I went to give my eardrums a break. He was a short beefy guy who wore a karate outfit). The best performance I ever saw at the EC was Cream...unbelievable!

  24. Thank you for verifying that the December 6th "Quaker City Rock Festival' included Al Kooper as the MC. He played his organ and sang in-between sets. The Spectrum concert history does not include that or Sly and the Family Stone as performing in this "Festival", but I sent an e-mail to them as a memory that they need to correct. Iron Butterfly was the closer and Eric Brann (guitar for IB) was sitting behind me for most of the concert. His head must have been bursting from me talking about him to my date. When he got up from his seat, he told me who he was and shook my hand and said thanks. Eric was the same age as me and he passed away at the age of 53 in 2003. I saw Iron Butterfly at the original Electric Factory and remember the oil screen behind them.

  25. I remember seeing Elton John at 2201 Arch st. Electric Factory 1969. I'm not sure what month. There were only about 50 people there. Imagine that. I remember coffins lined the walls and they had a strobe light room. I could not make the Jimmy Hendrix concert but my friends said he rocked. Other concerts I saw were Grand Funk Railroad and B.B. King and John Mayall. Good memories.

  26. I remember seeing the band's Catfish, Savoy Brown and the Iron Butterfly on a revolving stage 68'or 69'

  27. OMG! A long argument has been settled, thanks to this post! My husband and I both claimed to attend the "Quaker City Rock Festival" in 1968. (Separately. We were both in high school and didn't meet until several years later.) I've always insisted it was the 2nd one. But since I definitely saw Joplin, The Chambers Brothers and Vanilla Fudge, but no one thinks Big Brother was at the 2nd concert. We must have been at the same show after all. THANK YOU!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Happy to be of service!

  28. There was a JFK concert that summer staring Ray Charles,Nina Simone and Mandrake Memorial.

    1. Does anyone have info on electric factory presents RFK 1973 greatful dead, alman Bros, wet Willie with out sahm ?

  29. Schmidt's Presents The Philadelphia Summer Music Festival was a series of concerts throughout the summer of '68 held at JFK stadium. I was only 10 years old at the time but attended every concert since my Dad was the attorney and his cousin, the producer. Each show had a theme. The British Invasion featured The Who (never made the stage due to lightning storm and downpour). I did meet Keith Moon backstage who gave me his drumsticks. Another show featured Judy Garland with Count Basie. Another had The Rascals, The Boxtops, The Delphonics, and I believe Mitch Ryder

    1. I believe the beer sponsor was Schaefer, not Schmidt's.

  30. One of the first concerts I remember attending was at the Spectrum in 1968 - Beach Boys and the Maharishi Mahash Yogi - they brought the Maharishi out on a sort of flat bed with a bunch of people carrying him and he was throwing flowers to the crowd - it was nuts - he talked and we just wanted him to get off the stage so the Beach Boys could play - the next one I remember was going to the Schmidt's Concerts (festival seating) at the old Municipal Stadium. I think every weekend in '68 was spent at some concert venue in Philly, Electric Factory, Spectrum, Stadium and anywhere in the city and sometimes a little further to Bryn Mawr and the Main Point. Lots of local groups played there, American Dream, Elizabeth, Mandrake Memorial and Sweet Stavin' Chain. I remember seeing Sweet Stavin Chain at the EF in one of the strangest concerts ever - they did Teddy Bears Picnic and I will never forget it - the sang and danced all over the stage area it was extremely trippy and highly memorable although I can't remember if it was '68 or '69.

    1. Thanks for the recollections.

      According to Keith Badman's great concert chronology of the Beach Boys, the Maharishi/Spectrum show was May 4, 1968, and was not well attended. A fascinating cul-de-sac of BB history.

  31. I have a complete list of all the concerts @ The Electric Factory that was given to me by Larry Magid & the grand opening of the new factory

  32. I have a complete list of all the concerts @ The Electric Factory that was given to me by Larry Magid & the grand opening of the new factory

  33. I attended the first Quaker City Rock Festival, in 1968 at the Spectrum, although in my mind it was promoted as the Philadelphia Pop Festival. I was a junior in high school from across the river in Cherry Hill and I kinda remember the tix costing about $5, which was huge for a kid making $1.65/hr as a dish washer at the local pancake house part time.

    The night opened with Moby Grape (whom I'd barely ever heard of), then Buddy Guy's Blues Band, another unknown to me but memorable for his guitar histrionics (playing behind his head and picking with his teeth)followed by The Chambers Bros, whom had scored a major national hit the summer before with Time Has Come Today. Their harmonies on People Get Ready were simply thrilling to this innocent boy. Next Came Janis and Big Bro, opening with Combination of the Two and she swilling Jack while flashing amazing cleavage all over the place, to my great pleasure. Vanilla Fudge closed the night, of which I don't remember much except them opening with Take Me For A Little While and at some point playing the hypnotic Season of the Witch, which I went out and bought on 45 the next day. This was long before my first forays into the wild world of psychotropics and alcohol, so feel fairly confident in my accuracy. An incredible coming of age in the 60s evening I'll never forget.

  34. Van Morrison played the midnight show at the Electric Factory on December 31, 1968.

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  36. -
    Here is the text of a article I found talking about the closing of electric factory during the summer of 68 and the grand reopening in the fall.

    After a dull summer where the rockfolk music scene was kept alive by the continuous good entertainment at the Main Point and the sporadic successes at the Schaefer Ro(jk Festival at JFK Stadium, the Philadelphia music scene has sprung to life. After the Philadelphia Folk Festival with its assortmelffvff smash acts, including Buddy Guv.jWdafe and Donna, the Young TraditionTjom Mitchell, etc., things The Main Point had a monffi standing acts of which the climax had to be Hedge and Donna, who are undoubtedly one of the finest folk acts to emerge in a long time. Then the Electric Factory reopened with the Chambers Brothers, who were a hit there and came back with a fine encore in their concert at Penn a month later. But the real opening of the Factory came the next week with the Butterfield Blues Band and their jam sessions till the wee hours of morning both Friday and/ Saturday nights. / Things look even better for the next lew weeks. The Factory, despite/ the antics of our dear Philadelphia PfcliceJ Dept., intends to stay open and hasiomej great acts booked. Friday, OctobJr iJ Procol Harum and Albert King vtijl ap J pear. Procol Harum, after a/yearfe absence, have burst back into trlfe rfck scene with a new album and J git-at concert at Renaissance a few ago. Albert King, the fine blues artist, whose "Born Under a Bad Sign” has
    been redone by numerous groups, including Cream, will be back Saturday with RhlnocerousjOn October 18, the Factory is having a jam session with the Buddy Guy Blues Band and Sweet Stavin Chain, Dann Sterobin, one of Philly's blues guitarists. And on October 26, Jeff Beck

  37. Re July 17, 1968 JFK Stadium The Rascals/Country Joe and The Fish/The Box Tops/Delfonics....
    I was at that show, though I recall it being a few years earlier.
    In any case, the list of acts needs two change: The Delfonics were replaced by local soul band Archie Bell and the Drells, and the opening act was Todd Rundgren's first band, Woody's Truck Stop.