PHOTOS: Philadelphia’s song history — a DIY excursion


Philadelphia doesn’t make it clean for song fanatics to explore the city’s large and rich musical legacy. Still, you could cobble together a do-it-yourself excursion of the points of interest, sounds, and neighborhoods that nurtured talent. Other places for proposal: local information web page Billy Penn places out a Black Music Map each year in honor of Black History Month, and enthusiasts and specialists provide excursions through Jane’s Walks, like this recent one exploring Ridge Avenue’s jazz corridor.

Here are some spots to swing through. (Not all are open to the public.)

MARIAN ANDERSON HISTORICAL RESIDENCE MUSEUM, 762 South Martin St. The contralto became the primary African-American to sing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The museum is inside the house she bought in 1924. It consists of images, books, memorabilia, and films. Additionally, it helps an artists-in-residence program advanced through the Marian Anderson Historical Society to inspire and mentor incredible classical artists. Open each day at 10 a.m. To 4 p.M., Monday-Saturday.

MARIO LANZA INSTITUTE AND MUSEUM, 712 Montrose St. The museum homes select memorabilia from the liked tenor. It’s adjoining to the church where Lanza became an altar boy. Open by appointment best; deposit required at least two weeks before the excursion, 215-238-9691.

SIGMA SOUND STUDIOS, 212 N. 12th St. The studio based in 1968 through engineer Joe Tarsia helped create The Sound of Philadelphia — rich layers of vocals and orchestral arrangements, often echoing with a political message. It churned out hits like The Trammps’ Disco Inferno and The Three Degrees When Will I See You Again? Many Gamble and Huff hits were recorded here, such as The O’Jays’ Love Train. David Bowie recorded portions of his 1975 album “Young Americans” there. The studio has been sold and is expected to grow into a residential space. The outdoors stays, and a peek via the glass front doorways shows a demolished indoors.


THE UPTOWN THEATER, 2240 N. Broad St. The Uptown rivaled New York City’s Apollo Theater. It became a main forestall at the Chitlin Circuit — a network of golf equipment and theaters with ordinarily black proprietors and audiences at some segregation point. Anyone who became all of us in R&B and soul played there throughout the theater’s heyday in the 50s and 60s. Guided excursions are provided using appointment best, 215-236-1878.


SITE OF AMERICAN BANDSTAND, 4548 Market St. Dick Clark hosted the wildly popular American Bandstand show at WFIL-TV in West Philadelphia in the 1950s and ’60s. It became a cultural touchstone for legions of young adults eager to pay attention to the latest pop tune and spot the ultra-modern dance craze. The construction now houses a small enterprise development center, but the studio is still intact with the unique lighting fixtures, and memorabilia is highlighted around the building. Tours can be organized earlier.

THE JOHN COLTRANE HOUSE, 1511 N. Thirty-third St. The renowned sax participant lived here from 1952 to 1958, playing with the Miles Davis Quintet for a part of the time. The house became a country-wide historical landmark in 1999 but has fallen into disrepair.

THE SHOWBOAT/BIJOU, 1409 Lombard St. The Showboat became a tiny club in the basement of the Douglass Hotel, where performers regularly stayed in Philadelphia. The membership hosted greats like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk. In 1963, John Coltrane recorded Live on the Showboat there. It was later renamed The Bijou Cafe, a hotspot for up-and-coming artists, such as U2 and Prince. But there’s now no public access to the basement.

THE ROYAL THEATER, 1524 South St. This becomes the city’s first black-run theater courting from 1919 and a center of African-American nightlife for decades, hosting Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and Billie Holiday. It closed in the Nineteen Seventies and sat vacant and decaying till Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies sold it in 2000.

Over the years, there has been talk of reworking it right into a music museum, in all likelihood housing the Rhythm and Blues Foundation or restoring it as a live music venue. However, the fee of rehabbing the Royal was ultimately deemed too high, and the theater was sold to a developer of luxurious residences in the final fall. Demolition started at the end of February, and simplest, the facade will remain.

PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS, 309 Broad St. It’s now an empty lot. Still, traffic with keen imaginations can envision the building where Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff collaborated on hits like the O’Jays’ Love Train, Billy Paul’s Me and Mrs. Jones, and McFadden & Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.

THE CHECKER CAFE (LATER, THE CHECKER CLUB), 2125 Ridge Ave. This dilapidated construction is the shell of the remaining jazz club along what was once the bustling Ridge Avenue jazz corridor. Other golf equipment, like The Pearl and the Blue Note, had been better known. However, the Checker Cafe turned into which musicians might dangle out earlier than and after nearby suggests. Pearl Bailey labored there as a waitress.