Philadelphia is a city rich with history: not only United States history, but its musical history. When you think of the rock n’ roll legacy in this town, Electric Factory Concerts is a huge part of that story.
I am so glad that Drexel University is presenting Electrified: 50 Years of Electric Factory. It was five decades ago when a young Larry Magid, along with brothers Allen, Herb and Jerry Spivak, as well as Shelly Kaplan, came up with the idea to open a club that would showcase up and coming rock acts. Little did they know, their idea would grow well beyond those walls.
The project was born the same year as WMMR: 1968. The original Electric Factory was located at 22nd and Arch Streets in Philly. It was an old tire warehouse, and they were always getting cited for sound violations. If you were lucky enough to go there, you’d see everyone from the Grateful Dead to Jimi Hendrix to The Who, and so many more.
When that venue closed, they continued to put on shows as Electric Factory Concerts. This included the production of Live Aid in 1985. In rock n’ roll’s formative years, every town in America had their own individual promoter for concerts. Where I come from in San Francisco, it was Bill Graham. When you came to Philly, it was Larry Magid and EFC. For Live Aid, Bill and Larry teamed up to put on one of the most memorable days ever in Philadelphia music history. JFK Stadium was the only site in the United States for the show, sharing the coverage with Wembley Stadium in England.
The team later reopened the Electric Factory venue in 1995 in a different location, at 7th and Arch Streets. Everyone from David Bowie to the Foo Fighters have played in that building. Today it’s known as the Franklin Music Hall.
It’s one thing listen to music and play it on the radio, but it’s equally important to me to go out and see and hear it. That’s where the three-dimensional nature of the songs really shine. This Electrified exhibit covers EFC’s impact on the Philly rock scene and on concert promotion across the country. You’ll see original art, instruments, sound systems and apparel, some of which is on loan from Larry Magid’s personal collection. All of it is displayed beautifully to illustrate this important part of rock history and this city’s role in it.
The exhibition is a must-see for music fans in our area. Here’s to 50 years of Electric Factory Concerts, and thank you for bringing all those shows to Philadelphia!
Cheers, Pierre Robert
‘Electrified: 50 Years of Electric Factory’ is free and open to the public through December 31st, 2023. Find it at the Paul Peck Alumni Center Gallery and Bossone Research Enterprise Center on Market Street on Drexel University’s campus. Operating hours are Wednesday through Friday 1-7pm and Saturday 12-5pm. More info here.