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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spectrum and Spectrum Theatre, 3601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA

Capacity 19,000

Ground was broken on the arena on June 1, 1966, by Jerry Wolman and then-Philadelphia Mayor James Tate.[1] Construction was finished in 16 months at a cost of $7 million ($48.8 million in 2012 dollars[2]). The first event at the arena was the Quaker City Jazz Festival on September 30, 1967,[3] produced by Larry Magid.[4] The 76ers moved there from Convention Hall. Lou Scheinfeld, former President of the Spectrum, explained that the name "Spectrum" was selected to evoke the broad range of events to be held there. "The 'SP' for 'sports' and 'South Philadelphia,' 'E' for 'entertainment,' 'C' for 'circuses,' 'T' for 'theatricals,' 'R' for 'recreation,' and 'UM' as 'um, what a nice building!" Scheinfeld also said that a seat in the city's first superbox initially cost $1,000 a year: "For every Flyers game, Sixers game, circus, you name it, you got 250 events for $1,000."[5] The Flyers won their first ever home game in this arena by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 1-0. Bill Sutherland scored the arena's first goal.

Opened as "The Spectrum" in fall 1967, Philadelphia's first modern indoor sports arena was built to be the home of the expansion Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, and also to accommodate the existing Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. The building was the second major sports facility built at the south end of Broad Street in an area previously known as "East League Island Park" and now referred to simply as the "South Philadelphia Sports Complex."

On March 1, 1968, wind blew part of the covering off the Spectrum's roof during a performance of the Ice Capades, forcing the building to close for a month while Mayor Tate fought with then-Philadelphia County District Attorney Arlen Specter over responsibility for the construction of the roof, and the damage was repaired.[6) (The roof was repaired in time to permit the Flyers to return to the Spectrum to open their first Stanley Cup playoffs against the St. Louis Blues on April 4, 1968; the opening faceoff came just as Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.)[7
The Spectrum is the only venue to host the NBA and NHL All-Star Games in the same season, doing so in 1976, when it also hosted that year's Final Four. It is also one of a handful of venues to host the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals at the same time, doing so in 1980 (all four major Philadelphia teams would reach the championship round of their respective sport in the 1980 season).
1973 Spectrum in the middle, JFK at the top

The Spectrum is the only venue to host the NBA and NHL All-Star Games in the same season, doing so in 1976, when it also hosted that year's Final Four. It is also one of a handful of venues to host the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals at the same time, doing so in 1980 (all four major Philadelphia teams would reach the championship round of their respective sport in the 1980 season).
Jimi Hendrix at The Spectrum, April 12, 1969
On Saturday afternoon of the show at The Spectrum Jimi was interviewed in his room at the Holiday Inn at around 4 p.m. by writer John Lombardi. The story was published a week later in the now-defunct Philadelphia alternative newspaper Distant Drummer. Despite being tired, the ever-accommodating Hendrix submitted to yet another interrogation.
Jimi revealed a bit about his state of mind regarding this interview when he was asked if he would mind being photographed. "No," Hendrix replied, "the same shit happens every day, so fuck it."
Lombardi, who apparently was far from being an expert on Hendrix's music (as seen by his reference in print to the song "Let Me Stand Inside Your Fire"), started things off on a superficial note by remarking that Jimi's hair appeared shorter than in his publicity photos.
"My hair?" Jimi questioned. "I cut it short in protest. There are too many long- haired people running around whose heads aren't anywhere. But I think I'm gonna grow it again."
The interview continued to get off to a rocky start as the sore subject of the "nude" Electric Ladyland cover and Jimi's image was brought up.
"I don't consider myself a success. I haven't even started yet," Hendrix told Lombardi. "The scene puts you through a lot of changes... you get involved in images. I didn't have nothing to do with that stupid LP cover they released, and I don't even want to talk about it. It's mostly all bullshit."
Lombardi proceeded to remind Jimi about his stage act, referring to "setting the guitar on fire, going through the motions of intercourse." Not surprisingly at this stage of his career, the question served only to aggravate Jimi.
"We did those things mostly because they used to be fun," Jimi noted. "They just came out of us. But the music was still the main thing. Then what happened, the crowd started to want those things more than the music. Those little things that were just added on, like frosting, you know, became the most important. Things got changed around. We don't do that stuff as much anymore."
The next topic broached was the obscenity arrest of singer Jim Morrison following the disastrous performance by The Doors in Miami on March 1, 1969, when Jim allegedly exposed himself on stage.
"Well, if it happened, it is flipped out, but I've only heard reports," Jimi cautioned. "I guess you'd have to ask Morrison about that. I don't want to talk about it. You know, we used to try to defend against some of the publicity, but we don't anymore. They just ignore what you say anyway, and the people who know where you're at know without asking questions. They know from the music. I dig music.
"Listen," Jimi continued, "you want to talk about music? That's what I really know about. I don't want to say nothing about comparisons with other groups because if you do that puts you higher or lower than them, and that's just the same old cycle. Our music is in a very solid state now. Not technically, just in the sense that we can feel around the music and get into things better. We don't have any answers this time, but we'd love to turn everyone on to all we know... We know for instance that Jesus was starting to get it together quite nicely, but that ten commandments thing was a drag. The bogey man isn't going to come get you if you don't tie your shoe. You don't have to be afraid to make love to one of your boyfriend's wives. Brand-name religions like Bhuddism and Zen are just clashes. The Catholic church is spreading and vomiting over the earth. The Church of England is the biggest landowner in England. Your home isn't America, it's the earth, but things are precarious, man. America could start getting together and China or Russia could go and we'd all be even heavier slaves. You know my song, 'I don't live today, maybe tomorrow?' That's where it's at.
"But I want to talk about music," Jimi insisted. "Things were getting too pretentious, too complicated. 'Stone Free,' you know that? That's much simpler. That's blues and rock and whatever happens happens. People were singing about acid itself, man. Things start to rule you. Images. Drugs. Everybody forgets what happened to God.
"You know when you're young, most people have a little burning thing, but then you get your law degree and go into your little cellophane cage. You don't have to be an entertainer or anything to get it together. You can do the family thing. I've wanted to do that at times... I've wanted to go away to the hills sometimes, but I stayed. Some people are meant to stay and carry messages..."
"You think of yourself as a messenger?" asked Lombardi.
"No, man, nothing like that," answered the offended Hendrix, who paused before speaking again.
"I didn't want to do this interview because I was tired and I never get any time to myself. I wanted to relax, write a song. But how can you say that to someone?"
At this point Gerry Stickells, Experience road manager, arrived to tell Jimi it was time to get ready to leave for the show. Before ending the interview, Jimi made one more point.
"Listen, I'm tired but this is what I'm trying to say. If you prostitute your own thing... you can't do that. We was having a lot of fun with that stuff we used to do, but the more the press would play it up and the more the audience would want it, the more we'd shy away from it. Do you see where that all fits?
"When I'm on stage, playing the guitar, I don't think about sex. I can't make love when a beautiful record comes on. When I was in Hawaii, I seen a beautiful thing... a miracle. There were a lot of rings around the moon, and the rings were all women's faces."
Despite sitting in a room full of people, with an interviewer anxious to listen to anything Hendrix chose to say, Jimi chose to indirectly refer to his own isolation as a rock star.
"I wish I could tell somebody about it," Hendrix said to finish the interview.
Before leaving, Lombardi observed Jimi speaking with a pretty black girl who was trying to get Jimi to call her friend who was in the hospital. The hospitalized girl, a Hendrix fan named "Beefy," received a twenty minute call from Jimi before Hendrix and his entourage left for the performance.
At The Spectrum, a large crowd awaited Jimi's arrival. Ticket prices ranged from $3.50 to $6.50, and although the all-reserved-seat show was not a sell-out -- 14,489 was the official attendance -- the building was nearly full to capacity. In the next to the last row of the building was the author of this article, 13 years old and clutching an "Electric Church" concert program full of pictures of Jimi. For me, it was appropriate that this Experience tour was called "Electric Church." The church that my parents belonged to, in an attempt to connect with the younger generation, bought a group of tickets to the Experience show and chartered a bus for transportation. I couldn't believe it when I heard about it, but I knew that this would be my best chance to go see the musician who was the dominant interest of my young life.
I watched Noel Redding take the stage at the helm of Fat Mattress, and the band ran through material from their yet-to-be-released Fat Mattress debut album. The crowd received them well, although it was clear from the excitement in the air that the Fat Mattress set was simply a precursor to the night's main event.
As the stage was being set up for the Experience performance, an MC took to the stage to talk to the crowd about the police harassment that was now common at the Electric Factory. Police Commissioner Rizzo had gone so far as to hold a press conference in front of the Electric Factory, vowing to "turn this joint into a parking lot." With each new reference to "the man hassling us," the crowd's intensity went up a pitch, and the spiel ended with huge cheers as everyone optimistically vowed that the police would never succeed in closing the Electric Factory.
Soon thereafter the lights went down to a roar from the crowd as everyone scrambled on top of their seats to get a better view. I had abandoned my seat in the rafters, taking advantage of the fact that I was just a kid to work my way past security and toward the stage. I reached the sixth row, where a kindly girl let me stand on her seat so I could see.
Beneath the Spectrum seating Jimi emerged from the Philadelphia Flyers' locker room, carrying his white Stratocaster with maple neck. Escorted by police and security, Hendrix walked through the tunnel toward the arena and ran the gauntlet to the stage. As at most of the concerts presented at the Spectrum in its first years of operation, the stage this night was located in the middle of the arena floor. The circular platform would slowly revolve throughout the concert, giving everyone a constantly shifting point of view.
To a tremendous roar Jimi mounted the steps and walked onto the stage. I couldn't believe that Jimi Hendrix was now standing not thirty feet from me, but the figure bathed in the bright spotlights left no doubt that it was true. With a blue headband trailing down, Jimi was clad in an orange ruffled shirt and black vest and pants, a scarf tied around one leg. He smiled and greeted the crowd, and then Jimi and Noel began tuning and equipment checks. All was in readiness except for one thing -- where was Mitch Mitchell?
Jimi and Noel made small talk with 15,000 people until finally Mitch popped up behind his gold drum kit. It was a large set, a big snare joined by double rack tom- toms, two floor tom-toms, and two massive bass drums with one emblazoned in script "MITCH" and the other "MITCHELL" -- just in case anyone was uncertain as to who was providing the percussion.
Though Jimi had seemed so somber and introspective during his interview just hours before, now on stage his mood was bright. The band launched into "Fire," Hendrix working his effects and pushing his amps as he fed off of the crowd's energy. Jimi capped off the solo with some quick guitar gymnastics, finishing the song with the inevitable pitch bends and clouds of feedback. The huge sound of the Experience was rivalled only by the cheers of the audience.
The stage was sliced neatly in half by the stacks of amplification equipment, and from my floor level vantage point I saw the Experience half of the time and black speaker cabinets stencilled JH EXP the rest of the time. As Jimi, Noel, and Mitch slowly spun back into view Jimi chose to slow things down from the frantic opening with a long journey through "Red House." Hendrix put extra emphasis on the "Wait a minute, something's wrong" line and repeated it to dramatic effect before grabbing high, wailing bent notes as he worked the upper reaches of the guitar neck during the long solo. On this night "Red House" followed a similar structure to the San Diego version that was recorded just a month later and released on Stages.
Following the blues of "Red House" Jimi chose to make another radical shift in tempo, unleashing a long burst of feedback to usher in "Foxy Lady." As Noel and Mitch fell in Jimi dispensed a hail of hammered notes leading to the first verse. Jimi finished the song with a long solo improvisation unaccompanied by his rhythm section.
Jimi stepped to the microphone to introduce "I Don't Live Today" -- "We're just jamming, we haven't played in a long time" -- but the real introduction came via Mitch's lengthy and flashy drum solo before he fell into the familiar percussion pattern of the studio version. Jimi's lyrical delivery of the song was emotional, appropriately for a song that Hendrix often referred to in interviews as a reference point for his feelings. The guitar exploration in the song's middle section was a particularly intriguing sonic adventure, falling into a long section of eerie wails and then a sped-up reprise. "Nothing but existing, baby -- all you're doing is existing" commented Jimi before he brought the song to a close.
"We'd like to do a thing called 'Getting My Heart Back Together Again,'" Jimi next announced. Then, remembering his conversation earlier in the day at the Holiday Inn, Jimi added a dedication "to little Beefy, who's in the hospital now, and her little friend." Hendrix ran through many variations based on the familiar opening riff, before arriving at a melodic section that consisted of long sustained notes that sounded similar to the theme of "Midnight Lightning."
"Blues and rock and whatever happens happens" was how Jimi had described "Stone Free" earlier that day, and this song made one of its relatively infrequent appearances in an Experience set as the next song the band performed. But it was an exceptional performance that was energetic and passionate, showing the Experience were still a force to be reckoned with in spite of the rumors of dissension. The pace was fast, with a long solo by Jimi at the end yielding to a percussive improvisation among all three musicians. A brief drum break led to more improvising along a descending pattern followed by free-form jamming. Finally Jimi and company found their way back to the structure of "Stone Free" and brought the adventure to an end.
"Star Spangled Banner" began next, but a long pause after the "Oh say can you see..." notes left the crowd in doubt as to whether Jimi intended to do the whole song or was just teasing as he was known to do on occasion. But the anthem started up again, following a stately structure quite similar to the famed Woodstock version -- complete with dive bombs. A major difference was that Jimi used the tremolo bar heavily in this version for more vibrato on the verses throughout, and the short intro to "Taps" had yet to be added. But the ending was the same as Woodstock's, providing a gateway directly to "Purple Haze."
This night's driving rendition of one of Jimi's most popular smash hits was crowned by a crazed solo that leapt and dived before it dissolved into roars of feedback. On long bent notes of seemingly infinite sustain Jimi navigated back towards the song structure to meet up with Noel and Mitch for the finale.
Jimi stepped to the microphone and thanked us for coming, immediately crafting the introduction to "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." Hendrix treated the song to the type of incendiary performance that he always seemed to reserve for this track, although this version was especially long.
In fact, the entire performance at the Spectrum had been characterized by lengthy versions of Jimi's songs. While the set list may have been shorter than at other shows on the 1969 tour, the Experience had more than made up for it by stretching out instrumentally to an even greater degree than usual.
Jimi left the stage and, surrounded by police once again, rushed through the barricades protecting him from the crowd as he fled towards the dressing rooms. I made my way out to the bus, with ringing ears and awed by what I had seen. Some of the others on the bus didn't seem to get it -- but I had definitely been experienced. The image that I will always carry in my memory is one of Jimi bathed in the hot glow of the spotlights, on his knees bent over backwards with the blue headband hanging down behind him and his Stratocaster held up toward the sky as an indescribable wave of volume poured off of the stage.
The show was reviewed on April 14 in the Evening Bulletin, one of the three major daily newspapers in Philadelphia. Writer Walter F. Naedele's review offers a glimpse at the kinds of weird, impressionistic journalism accepted in those days -- and shows that perhaps Mr. Naedele was writing as much from his libido as he was from his head.
"A black Apache backed by two silent Englishmen," Naedele wrote, "Jimi came on, blue silk headband flowing to his legs, scarves knotted at elbow and knee, a soft- spoken young man and his bad-mouth electric guitar.
"Different from B.B. King's Lucille, the guitar became a woman Hendrix was love-fighting all night.
"To his wailing, she would shimmer back her own sass. As she built toward her screams, Hendrix would stagger back from the effort to get that much fight out of her. Sinking to his knees, holding her at arm's length while she ran off at him, he would at last draw her around him, fondling her, kissing her into submission.
"All that, in ten minutes of 'Red House.'"
All that, in the first half of the review!(7)

The Doors at The Spectrum, May 1, 1970
The Spectrum Theater was a venue for acts not big enough to fill the entire Spectrum arena. The stage was placed in the middle of the Spectrum floor, and the other half of the arena behind the stage was closed off with curtains, creating a theater-like environment. Some of the acts that played in this configuration included Frank Zappa in 1973, 1976 and 1977; David Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974; Bob Marley's Natty Dread Tour in 1975 and Kaya Tour in 1978; Bruce Springsteen in 1976; Peter Gabriel's tour in 1982 and Howard Jones in 1987.
Kiss at The Spectrum, December 22, 1977. Photo by Gilbert Albright.

The Spectrum was the oldest of the four currently existing arenas and stadiums (of the six built overall between 1926 and 2004) which make up Philadelphia's massive "Sports Complex" located at the South end of Broad Street. The Complex now occupies roughly a quarter of the 1926 site of Philadelphia's Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, a massive 184-day World's Fair which ran from May 31 to November 30, 1926, on grounds bounded by 10th Street, Packer Ave., 23rd Street, and the U.S. Navy Yard (Terminal Avenue). The Spectrum now occupies the portion of the original Exposition grounds located on the south side of Pattison Avenue between Broad and 11th Streets that in 1926 was the site of the fair's expansive main trolley station operated by the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company.

Statues in the arena footprint include:

* A statue of Kate Smith, the Flyers' good luck charm, whose rendition of God Bless America by Irving Berlin made the Flyers back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in 1974 and 1975
* A statue of Julius Erving, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1976 until 1987.

It is not known where these statues will be placed when the Spectrum is gone.

Name changes:
Wachovia Spectrum (formerly known as the Spectrum (1967–1994)
CoreStates Spectrum (1994–1998)
First Union Spectrum (1998–2003)

Pearl Jam was the last performance at the Spectrum on October 27–28 and 30–31, 2009. The band came to the stage each night after a video montage of memorable Spectrum moments followed by the Rocky theme music. Over the four nights, Pearl Jam performed 103 different songs, with its final night on Halloween lasting over 3 hours and 35 minutes and including 41 songs.[11]

Jerry performed here on
12/6/68 Grateful Dead
9/21/72 Grateful Dead
3/24/73 Grateful Dead
9/20/73 Grateful Dead
9/21/73 Grateful dead
4/22/77 Grateful Dead
3/16/78 Jerry Garcia Band
5/13/78 Grateful Dead
1/5/79 Grateful Dead
1/12/79 Grateful Dead
11/5/79 Grateful Dead
11/6/79 Grateful Dead
8/29/80 Grateful Dead
8/30/80 Grateful Dead
5/2/81 Grateful Dead
5/4/81 Grateful Dead
4/5/82 Grateful Dead
4/6/82 Grateful Dead
4/25/83 Grateful Dead
4/26/83 Grateful Dead
4/6/85 Grateful Dead
4/7/85 Grateful Dead
4/8/85 Grateful Dead
3/23/86 Grateful Dead
3/24/86 Grateful Dead
3/25/86 Grateful Dead
3/29/87 Grateful Dead
3/30/87 Grateful Dead
3/31/87 Grateful Dead
9/22/87 Grateful Dead
9/23/87 Grateful Dead
9/24/87 Grateful Dead
9/8/88 Grateful Dead
9/9/88 Grateful Dead
9/11/88 Grateful Dead
9/12/88 Grateful Dead
9/3/89 Jerry Garcia Band
10/18/89 Grateful Dead
10/19/89 Grateful Dead
10/20/89 Grateful Dead
9/10/90 Grateful Dead
9/11/90 Grateful Dead
9/12/90 Grateful Dead
11/12/91 Jerry Garcia Band
3/16/92 Grateful Dead
3/17/92 Grateful Dead
3/18/92 Grateful Dead
9/12/93 Grateful Dead
9/13/93 Grateful Dead
9/14/93 Grateful Dead
11/16/93 Jerry Garcia Band
10/5/94 Grateful Dead
10/6/94 Grateful Dead
10/7/94 Grateful Dead
3/17/95 Grateful Dead
3/18/95 Grateful Dead
3/19/95 Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead played the Spectrum 53 times, by far the most of any musical act.
The remaining members of The Grateful Dead; including Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann performed their final set of shows at the Spectrum on May 1 and 2, 2009; the May 2 show was their 54th consecutive sell out at the Spectrum. The Dead closed the May 2 show with the song "Samson and Delilah". The song contains the fitting refrain "If I had my way, I would tear this old building down." The lyric was changed by bands singer Bob Weir to say "I wouldn't tear this old building down." With the demolition of The Spectrum, four of the five venues (within the City Of Philadelphia) The Grateful Dead played through their career have succumbed to the wrecking ball.

1.)^Hochman, Stan (March 17, 2009). "Snider-Wolman Feud Outliving Spectrum". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
2.)^Staff. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2012. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
3.)^"Bulls game at Wachovia Spectrum highlights Sixers 2008-09 schedule". Philadelphia 76ers
4.)^Klein, Michael (September 15, 2008). "Inqlings: Spectrum Last Blasts: Deafening, of Course". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
5.)^October 19, 2009, Talk Philly, CBS3.
6.)^Johnson, William (April 1, 1968). "A Heavy Blow In A Windy City
8.)^wood, Sam, 1001-11-14, At The Spectrum: Jerry Garcia Live, Minus The Dead,


  1. You wrote that all 5 venues where the Jerry played in Philadelphia have been torn down. The Dead played the Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania on October 16, 1970 and it sill stands. A very eccentric theater with a great pipe organ. Many fond memories from when I was at school there in the late seventies, including seeing Jorma solo and Little Feat amongst others.

  2. The photo of Kiss at the Spectrum was taken by me, Gilbert Albright

  3. Hi Gilbert, Thank you for letting me know. I've added your credit/name to the photo.

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