Today WXPN’s Throwback Thursday theme focuses on the music of 1976. During the summer of ’76 when radio stations around the country were playing hits by Elton John and Kiki Dee (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”), “Dancing Queen” by Abba, “Let Em In” by Wings, and the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing,” three shows of note came through Philadelphia.
That summer, Philadelphians were celebrating the Bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and a massive concert was held at JFK Stadium featuring Peter Frampton and Yes, with support from Gary Wright (who was riding the charts with “Dream Weaver”), the Pousette-Dart Band, and an appearance by the Mummers. Frampton’s career was skyrocketing with the release of his double live album, Frampton Comes Alive (released in January), and Yes, with no new album to support, played a hit filled set of songs including “Long Distance Runaround,” “Roundabout,” “Heart of the Sunrise,” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley also made an appearance in Philly during the summer of ’76 at the Spectrum, on June 28th, a little more than a year before he would pass away. Making his way through a 22 song set list, Presley included a cover of “America The Beautiful” during the set, as well as classics like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “All Shook Up.” The King walked out on stage to the theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey, tickets were $10, and he played for about an hour.
Finally, Elton John rolled into Philly for three shows in July at The Spectrum for the “Louder Than Concorde But Not Quite As Pretty Tour.” He was four months away from the release of 1976’s Blue Moves, and during the final show he performed “Philadelphia Freedom,” a song he wrote for his friend, tennis star Billie Jean King, for the first time in Philly. In attendance at one of the shows: Elizabeth Taylor. If you were at any of these shows, let us know in the comments below.
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