Friday, December 30, 2011

Hanks for the Memories

While I was mildly annoyed to learn (via Brian Williams) that Colin Hanks had turned to KickStarter to fund a documentary he wants to make about Tower Records -- KickStarter is for those of us who weren't born with enormous access to the things you have, you idiot -- I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I will be the first person to see "All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records" when it finally comes out. (Did you notice a pattern in my movie-going in 2011?) I completely agree with him that Tower Records was so much more than a place to buy music, and I too equate it with so many pivotal moments in my life, like being in awe of my older brother for buying a single of "Dreaming" by Blondie when I was still obsessed with another blonde (named Olivia Newton-John), ditching high school with my friends Tina, Yuki, Deanna and Greg to hang out on Mill Avenue with the cool college kids, flipping through the imports at Tower and Zia Records on a domestic budget and buying the Phil Spector box sex at the Sunset Boulveard store below Spago to help nurse my wounds after getting my wisdom teeth violently ripped from my mouth at the nearby Beverly Sunset Medical Plaza.

Hanks more than reached his fundraising goal, and the video outline of what's in store for the film looks fantastic. See for yourself HERE.


  1. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I used to live in NYC, and the Tower records there was spread out over several blocks. It seemed like they had everything you could ever want there. The internet is great, but I miss going to a store with friends and finding all sorts of new things to listen to.

  2. I grew up in San Francisco in the 60's and 70's and went to Tower all the time ('The largest record store in the known world. Open every night of the year until midnight'). Never much into popular music, I always headed right for the back wall where they had the show tunes. Saturday night ritual was dinner=>Tower Records=>bars. There was always someone there to discuss the merits of the London cast recording versus the Broadway recording. Before I made my purchase, I'd hold the album sideways to make sure the title was fully legible on the spine (oh the things we used to obsess about).

    When I moved to NY, I lived around the corner from Tower on 66th and paid nightly visits on my way home from the subway. I was walking the dog past the store the morning they started their GOB sale. I woke up my friends in California to give them the bad news, not so much that they'd want to go shopping for bargains, but that they'd bemoan the loss of this iconic store . I guess it was emblematic of our new era that most just shrugged it off with a comment like 'Oh, I haven't bought anything there in years' (and we're talking middle-aged people, not 20-somethings).

    More than Gimbels, more than Altman's, more than Schrafft's, I miss Tower Records.

  3. I worked for Tower Records off and on from 1990 until 2006, either full time or as supplementary income. All of us, I think I can say, who worked there had a love/hate relationship with it. I worked at three flag ship stores: Philadelphia--South Street, Nashville--West End and New York Lincoln Center. They were also great places for networking and schmoozing with celebs.

  4. I grew up in Sacramento during the 80s and early 90s so were spoiled with Tower Records sprinkled throughout the city and neighboring burbs...the location on Broadway in Downtown Sac had a separate Records, Books and Video store which meant a wider selection...I remember trying to se=neak in the adult video section just to look at the covers with naked people on them

  5. Anonymous10:08 PM

    I had driven by the empty Tower Records on Watt Ave featured in the video a number of times and it always broke my heart. The bright neon sign remained lit long after the doors were closed on this, the first Tower Records store. A few years ago, when they finally removed the sign, Russ was there in the parking lot watching, along with a few of us who had called the company home. He mentioned Colin's documentarty to us and hoped it would be completed some day. I had only worked at the headquarters during the rocky final years, but i assure you, there is an amazing story waiting to be told and I'm pleased to see it finally coming together.

  6. Driving four hours to Atlanta to Tower Records (and Oxford Books) was a ritual of mine when I was in high school. I would anticipate the trip for weeks. Later, shopping in DC and NYC as an adult, I took the store for granted and rarely visited. (My dollars tended to go to Other Music across the street.) But then last year I visited Tokyo and was surprisingly excited to see that Tower Records still existed there. I didn't need to shop, but I went in anyway and found something to buy just so that I could walk out the door one more time with that bright yellow bag with the red logo on it. It made me happy--and I saved the bag!


All comments must be signed, even those using the "anonymous" options. Thanks.