Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 10 Musical Memories of the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Many famous acts played at the Spectrum

1. Yes played the Spectrum 32 times between 1971 and 2004. I saw them 4 times. 72, 74, 75 and once with my 15 year old son in 2004. I was a bit of a Yes freak. They always mesmerized me.

2. Dave Mason played the Spectrum 6 times. I have seen Dave Mason in concert over a dozen times. Four of those events were at the Spectrum. He’s a favorite. During one of the concerts, a drunk staggered down the steps fell over the seats and landed in my lap and got sick. Had Dave Mason and his guitar not have been my idol it would have been a most unpleasant evening. Some years later, in a club in Cherry Hill, I got back stage and met Mr. Mason. After I professed my love for him, he kissed me. I doubt he remembers the experience but it is one of those moments in time I will never forget. I still have my back stage pass :)

3. The Who concert in 1973 was great we met some new friends from South Philly but the true memory was after the concert. My best friend drove and we were in a 6 car pile up accident in Ridley that evening. Luckily no one was injured, we had just come from Jack in the Box and my girlfriend asked me to pick up the French Fries that had spilled on the floor. Her mother got upset when the car got messy. Her car was totaled.

4. Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1973 This one took me all night to find. I knew I wasn’t hallucinating. I distinctly remember Keith Emerson playing piano and spinning around upside down. Now I think to myself, how could this possibly be? Well here it is. Keith Emerson and his flying piano. You have to love Youtube.(warning bad language in the comments)

5. Jefferson Starship 1974 our seats weren’t great so I traveled closer to the stage to get a glimpse of Grace Slick. Her voice was still amazing but up close she looked a little beat. In all fairness, she may say the same about me today.

Driving by the sports complex at night, The Spectrum was the little one. It reminded me of a spaceship all aglow. Perhaps slightly dwarfed by the other newer stadiums but it is the one that caught my eye. It was an original.

6. Tina Turner 2008 (girl’s night out) She is absolutely amazing and I still have the $5 T-shirt we all purchased in the parking lot. Tina is an inspiration to me at her age she still rocks.

7. David Bowie 1983 I purchased tickets for my boyfriend and then we broke up. I gave the tickets to him anyway. I still regret that decision. Surely I wasn’t thinking clearly. Hope you enjoyed that one Mr. X.

8. Bob Dylan 1974 Amazing man that has written some of my favorite lyrics. I was in obstructive view seats behind the stage. Mr. Dylan turned and performed 2 songs to us. He called us the tush seats.

9. Neil Diamond 1993 My mother and Aunt Jean from Canada were big fans so I took them. He was great!

10. Grateful Dead 1979 played there 53 times. I only saw them once. Dead heads dancing around the concourse was a site to behold. I hardly knew the music when I went so the experience was a little strange to me.

The Spectrum met the wrecking ball at noon November 23rd 2010.

The Spectrum was the place to see music live, back in my hey day . Check out the list of concerts from Does it cause any flashbacks? I feel like I have seen them all. In reality, I only wish I had.

Now I share with you a story from a friend who had the dream job.

It was December, 1973. I had graduated from Widener College earlier that year, and was in graduate school in New Jersey, when I was offered a dream job: assistant public relations director at The Spectrum.

I quit school, took the job, leased an apartment in Ridley Park, and found myself in a world where rock and sports stars were all around. I recall seeing Billy Jean King in the offices now and then. She was starting up World Team Tennis. At a press event following a Kinks concert, Ray Davies, sat next to me and struck up a conversation as if we were old friends. I remember the stir at the Spectrum when Frank Sinatra tickets went on sale and sold out almost immediately.
The National Hockey League was a whole new thing to me, but like everybody else, I was swept up in the Flyers frenzy that culminated with them winning their first Stanley Cup. If I'm not mistaken, it was a ticket taker at the Spectrum who came up with the bumper sticker, "Only the Lord Saves More Than Bernie Parent," which was seen on what seemed like every other car in town. The Broad Street Bullies were Rock stars.

There was also the Monday Night Fights, the Sixers, and an attempt to get a national lacrosse league going.

The concerts, however, were my biggest thrill. The Beach Boys, Boz Scaggs, Peter Frampton, Deep Purple, Cat Stevens, and Edgar Winter are some that come to mind, though there were many more. I have a particular memory of a press event for the group Yes. The affair was catered by The Astral Plane. All the guys in the band enjoyed the natural and organic delicacies they served, except for keyboardist Rick Wakeman who sat on the floor in the corner with a pepperoni pizza and a six-pack.

On Fridays, the management at the Spectrum would treat the office staff to deli food at lunch. I enjoyed the food and the chance to chat with other folks there.

I came to have great respect for the people at The Spectrum who were in charge of security. Theirs was a tricky job. Think about all the substances that were used by concert-goers back then, including some who were quite young. At one show, something happened that I'll never forget. A young lady had removed all of her clothes and was being passed overhead by the crowd. The security people moved quickly got some clothes on her and removed her from the stadium. Twenty minutes later, she was inside and naked again. I think that's when I knew it was time to pursue a career rather than a dream job.

Walt Haake
Princeton, NJ

This photo was snapped while landing at the Philadelphia Airport. I always look down at the city and identify that I am home. Now the landscape will change a bit.


  1. What a GREAT walk down memory lane!! As I always say the 70's were the BEST decade EVER, especially for music and concerts!!! And the pictures are fabulous!! The Spectrum will be missed by many!!

  2. Saw about thirty concerts from May '70 through July '72 at age 15 through 17. My hair was below mid-back, I was a lifeguard and I looked like a chick (the term back then). We lived in a different world then, an entirely different consciousness, - maybe love is actually a thing-in-itself that we get found in. The universities and colleges hadn't yet fully --cked up everybody's thinking. There was room for God and Darwin in the same ballroom of life. Morality from out of your own belly and mind was sufficient and sociology, truth relativity and political correctness hadn’t poisoned individual potentialities.

    Anyho, i dealt (gave it away mostly) sunshine (orange barrels) at the Spectrum and frequently "fed" the stage bouncers at stage right a separate peace for the shows. Since I looked harmless, my pals let me on stage for Led Zep, Alice Cooper, The Who, Yes and others, particularly during the early summer of ‘72. Some of the greatest concerts ever do not appear in "Rememberthespectrum" history of concerts. Does anyone in e-land remember the Rolling Stones with Stevie Wonder and his 30 piece band jamming together later in the venue (two nights in late June). And do you remember the floor violence before the show. My two buds, Jules and Walt from Beach Haven went high and low on that behemoth, destroyed that long yellow haired huge redneck biker that was throwing girls and boys half his weight down to the floor, - grabbing their hair from behind and violently hurling them to the concrete, starting at row 15 and working toward the stage. They carried that dick off in a stretcher. I had four tickets for both shows, Center aisle, Row 10 and Row 1. The second night Mick got delightedly pissed at my screaming his lyrics and iced me down with a bucket of ice water and swinging his tongue in my face!

    The Spectum was never about acoustical quality, but about people, experience and a rite of passage for many. And like free concerts such as Seatrain in Fairmont Park, the end of the Sixties for Philly.

  3. What "career" did your friend choose instead of his dream job?

  4. He worked for the government in the Food Health and Safety Division, I believe. Now he has his dream job.

  5. I would've stayed with the naked girls. More to talk about at retirement.

  6. Well Anonymous if you are who I think you are, you made the correct career choice as well and you also have your dream girl. We can all make up and embellish stories at retirement.