The Full Spectrum

An oral history

Larry Magid, co-founder, Electric Factory Concerts: What happened with the concerts was that we started looking at the Spectrum as really just a big club. What if we didn’t have seats on the floor? We said, We’ll call them dance concerts. We’ll keep the ticket prices low and try to build exciting shows, rather than waiting for the headliners or the Johnny Cashes or the Ray Charleses of the world, which was the standard. Let’s break out of this mold, and let’s go into the Spectrum with rock shows.

Allen Spivak: We were the first to go into an arena with general admission. But some of the shows got so rowdy, because everyone would try to get on the floor.

Larry Magid: Frank Rizzo did not want the Doors in Philadelphia, because Jim Morrison had just exposed himself, allegedly. All of a sudden, we had the fire marshal looking at the show, and there were too many people on the floor. The manager of the Doors got up there and said, “You’ve gotta move back.” And nothing. I was young and my hair was long, so everybody said I should talk to these people. So I go up and make this speech that turns into a diatribe.

“Announcer ‘Sit Down,’” track one from The Doors Live in Philadelphia ’70: Last week, we had 25,000 hippies out in the park, man. It was beautiful. Now, we want everything to be cool here. We want to do more concerts, but man, there’s a couple of small rules. You’re just gonna have to move back. Sit down, man, and make aisles. We’re not tryin’ to bullshit you, man, we’re trying to lay it right on the fucking line, man.

Larry Magid: They recorded it, and somebody thought it was funny to let my voice stay on it. So we did the show, and it was great. A lot of it becomes a blur, because there were so many. Dylan coming back and playing with the Band, that was a big deal. The Rolling Stones in ’69. Elvis in ’71. We did a show with Led Zeppelin, and they said, “Jimmy Page is sick. If we don’t get him on now, we’re not going to be able to do the show.” Unbeknownst to me, all they wanted to do was go to New York and go to some club and party. We had to convince Jethro Tull, “You’ve got to go on after them.” So Led Zeppelin opened the show and left. Springsteen’s first show there — he opened for Chicago and got booed. I remember standing there as he was walking offstage with his head down, and I said, “This wasn’t your night. Nah, this wasn’t the show you should have played on.” And he just looked at me. He didn’t know me. I said, “You’ll get ’em.” I was just trying to make the guy feel good. I didn’t know he was going to be what he’s become.

Jon Bon Jovi, musician/Philadelphia Soul co-owner: Philly was more accessible than New York from suburban New Jersey. I saw Van Halen there. I saw Bruce at the Spectrum before I saw him at the Garden. It was the spring of 1978. The house lights went down, and I started sweating. I was 15, stage right, lower bowl. I remember it like it was yesterday. They didn’t sell it out, not even close. He went up to the top tier, and the seats were empty. He sang “Spirit in the Night” from up there, and I just said, “That’s it. That’s what I want to do in life.”

Pierre Robert, deejay, WMMR: I remember Bono saying, “We’re used to playing smaller venues. This is our first tour of the bigger places. It’s so weird to be playing in these airplane hangars.” When the Dead played their 50th show there, I raised a tie-dye banner and did a little speech. The banner was promptly stolen. Some little stoner out there has the Dead 50th anniversary banner in his room somewhere.

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