Music maven Magid leaves Live Nation job The pioneer Philly promoter and cofounder of Electric Factory Concerts booked top talent.

Posted: February 18, 2010

Larry Magid, the music-industry titan who cofounded Electric Factory Concerts in 1968 and brought the mammoth Live Aid and Live 8 concerts to Philadelphia, has stepped down from his position as chairman of the regional branch of the Live Nation concert-promotion empire.

Neither Magid nor anyone from Live Nation would comment. A spokesman at Live Nation's Bala Cynwyd offices yesterday confirmed a report of Magid's departure posted Tuesday on Billboard.com.

Live Nation Philadelphia books most of the large venues in this market, including the Wachovia Center, the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, and the Electric Factory.

Geoff Gordon will stay on as president of Live Nation Philadelphia.

A friend of Magid's, who declined to be identified, said the promoter's parting with Live Nation was amicable.

Magid's career caught the attention of the national media as early as 1970, when Rolling Stone called him "the psychedelic dungeon keeper" of the original Electric Factory, at 22d and Arch Streets.

Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, called the 67-year-old Magid "one of the last of the original crop of promoters that built the concert business."

In 2000, Electric Factory Concerts was bought by SFX, which was bought by Clear Channel, which later spun off its concert business as Live Nation. Magid stayed on.

Bongiovanni said Live Nation, whose merger with Ticketmaster recently was approved by the U.S. Justice Department, has been cutting costs. "If you follow the financial success of [Live Nation], it hasn't really been robust," he said. "So the more expensive salaries seem to have been marginalized."

Whatever the reasons for Magid's leaving, his departure marks the end of an era in the Philadelphia concert industry.

"Larry was a real pioneer in setting up what became the modern concert industry," said Ray Waddell, senior editor for touring at Billboard.

"You had a handful of guys, when rock-and-roll was in its ascendancy, who created a circuit: Bill Graham in San Francisco, Don Law in Boston. And Larry in Philadelphia. They had a real formula for building acts up from the club level, up until arenas and stadiums, and a sense for talent and what fans were into."

Beginning with the Quaker City Jazz Festival in 1967, Magid began putting shows into the Spectrum, the celebrated South Philadelphia venue that closed in October.

Turning the hockey arena into "America's Showplace," Magid helped establish Philadelphia's reputation for having an impassioned, informed, and loud rock audience.

"It didn't happen by accident," Magid said in an interview last year. "It had nothing to do with the drinking water."

"Larry and [his Electric Factory partner] Allen Spivak brought rock-and-roll from the clubs to the arenas, and that led to this mega-business," said Peter Luukko, the president of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Wachovia Center. "We're talking about a cultural phenomenon that really started in Philadelphia."

Magid considered Live Aid, the 1985 fund-raiser for African famine relief that featured Madonna, Tina Turner, and the Hooters, among many other stars, "the best thing I ever did," he said in 2005. "It was almost the perfect show. Both in what it stood for and how it came off."

In the business, Magid "was known as a fierce negotiator," Waddell said. A former agent, Magid had long-standing connections to artists such as Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Crystal.

"He's been the guy in Philly for so long," Waddell said. "Larry knew his market as well as anybody can know a market."

Contact music critic Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or ddeluca@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at www.philly.com/philly/blogs/ inthemix.

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