Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA

The Tower Theater is located in Upper Darby, PA.  Just over the Philadelphia city line, it sets on the corner of 69th and Ludlow Streets.  It was built in 1927 as a movie and vaudeville theater, 45 years later it was transformed into a top-notch rock venue.  Midnight Sun Concerts brought in acts such as David Bowie, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, and the Jerry Garcia Band throughout the 70s.  The Grateful Dead, then presented by the Electric Factory Concerts group, played a four night run here, June 21-24, 1976.  It was the first time the band had played in the Philadelphia area since they had gone on hiatus in ’75, so it was a highly anticipated event for local Deadheads.  This run was the only time the Dead played the Tower, as they would begin playing the larger venues (mostly at the Spectrum) back over the Philadelphia city line the following year.  The Tower Theater continues to be a thriving theater for new and established acts, including the remaining members of the Grateful Dead in their various forms.  The following photographs of the Tower were taken at a recent Bob Weir acoustic show that I attended with my fellow Deadhead Stephanie Rumphrey.  The photo on the left shows Stephanie in front of the theater that evening, the familiar little tower glowing above as the sun begins to set.  It still retains the classic old theater façade with a great wrap-around marquee and box office.  As you enter the theater, interesting and beautiful features are everywhere, such as these lanterns that are on either side of the stage.  Thank you Stephanie for taking the picture!  Although it is a bit rough around the edges, the Tower Theater is a gem among Philadelphia area venues with fabulous acoustics and the great vibes that classic theaters provide.


This post is sponsored by Type B Tye Dye Studios in New Hope, PA.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frank Paxton
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 15:41:50

    HI ! My brother and I (The Paxton Bro) opened a show for The Jerry Garcia Band at the Tower theatre on Halloween of 1975… I think it was. I miss Jerry. He was the BEST ever…lent us equipment, encouraged us, even let us use the Dead’s practice studio in San Rafael. BEAUTIFUL guy, always fun, always real.
    Nicky Hopkins was playing with Jerry and I feel honored to have seen him play up close. He was in poor health – but you’d never have know by listening… I think he ‘flew away’ not to long after… It was a magical night for me. There was tons of really good food backstage but I was so nervous I couldn’t eat a bite !!
    Thank you Jerry.


  2. grosvenorsquare
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 17:32:10

    Hello Frank! Thank you for posting this story, a great insight into a night at the Tower Theatre with Jerry. It is really a great old theater, so much history there, so glad it is there there to enjoy. I love your website, great pictures and music! You guys should get back together. Thanks again for posting!!!


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