Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday Sessions: The Tower Theater

Photo: Mtruch
I grew up in this neighborhood, my family shopped on this street, and I saw a movie or two here before it returned to its musical past (vaudeville and burlesque) and became a springboard for contemporary musicians.  In 1970 the theater was showing 3rd run movies for the price of $1, in 1972 it showed its first revival concert under the Midnight Sun banner, Dave Mason and Buzzy Linhart.

Also in 1972 it showcased some relatively unknown artists:

Genesis  also had a midnight show here in 1972, tickets were $4

In 1974 a local artist unveiled his new backup band here... The E Street band. It was Springsteen's biggest show yet: $5000

In 1975 the owners of the theater sold to Electric Factory Concerts.  Regulars at The Tower included Jackson Browne, Lou Reed, Steve Miller, and Jerry Garcia. David Bowie returned to record his David Live album. In 1980 Paul Simon performed here as part of his One Trick Pony tour, the concert at The Tower was to become the video Paul Simon in Concert.

The theater continued to showcase both up-and-coming and established artists.

And the theater is still going strong today

The Tower Theater was built in 1927 by John H McClatchy (I grew up in a McClatchy home, he built more than 40,000 and is perhaps most famous for The McClatchy Building) for William Freihofer (of bakery fame), and the interior design was by  Erte; Romain de Tirtoff the noted Art Deco designer.  It opened in 1928 just before the great depression.  Less than a block from the Philadelphia suburban transit hub, the 69th Street Terminal, making it convenient for both suburban and urban concert goers. Contrary to popular belief, the theater is not in Philadelphia.

The Tower Theater

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