ALL THINGS MUST PASS
The Tower Records Documentary
Directed by Colin Hanks
The Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, CA
April 16, 2015
Writing and photography by TourBusLive.com
If you purchased music in the 70s and 80s, it’s likely you visited a TOWER RECORDS, with their iconic yellow-and-red logo on their building and their impressive foam-core album cover art in their windows. Nothing was more pleasing to any music junkie than spending an afternoon (or late night – they were open until midnight, you know) strolling through Tower’s seemingly never-ending aisles and systematically flipping through bin after bin filled with your favorite (or not-so-favorite) discs of black vinyl.
Tower’s motto had said it all: NO MUSIC – NO LIFE. And between their knowledgeable staff and all those really cool in-store appearances by the biggest bands of the day during the several decades of its existence, Tower Records was the place to be. Their stores changed the way we bought music, and their methods were clearly successful. At its fiscal peak in 1999, Tower took in more than $1 billion in just that year alone. ONE. BILLION. DOLLARS.
But, only five years later, the once ruler of record retailers filed for bankruptcy and, by 2006, some 46 years after it opened its first store, had closed its doors for good. If you think their story ended simply with the invention of file-sharing sites like Napster, or with the internet’s massive merchandise distributors such as Amazon – it didn’t. No, the story of the rise and fall of Tower Records, and the story of its founder RUSSELL SOLOMON, goes much deeper.
So what could have gone wrong? Or more importantly, what had first gone so right??
And so thought actor-turned-director COLIN HANKS (delusional Doomsday Killer Travis Marshall in the sixth season of television series Dexter and, yes, the son of actor Tom), who shared his hometown of Sacramento with Tower Records. He first discussed the story with a friend at a dinner one evening in New York City. And when Hanks decided to find out what exactly had happened to the beloved record store chain, he learned that he was not alone in that quest.
Producer SEAN STUART was quickly on board, as were the more than 1600 Tower Records fans who helped the duo raise more than $90,000 on Kickstarter to help tell the story (written by STEVEN LECKART).
And a mere seven years later (Rome wasn’t built in a day, people), we found ourselves seated in the 200-chair CLIVE DAVIS THEATER at THE GRAMMY MUSEUM for a second sold-out screening of this delightful documentary. Captivating from the opening credits to the last glimpse of their impressive array of archival photos, Hanks and his crew made sure we’d never forget the story of Tower Records.
Leading a short but interesting (and quite funny at times) Q&A after the film was Musicares and Grammy Foundation Vice President SCOTT GOLDMAN, along with HANKS, STUART, and music authors PHIL GALLO and GARY CALAMAR (who wrote “Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again”).
Oh, and it was really nice to see that the panel stuck around to shake a few hands and take a few photos with the audience members who had waited after.
ALL THINGS MUST PASS is set to hit theaters across the country this coming September. Don’t miss it.
SPOTTED IN THE CROWD:
Although Tower Records founder Russell Solomon had attended the first screening and not this second night, this showing still included a few notable faces in the crowd: The film’s Editor Darrin Roberts and Director of Photography Nicola B. Marsh. Also Stage Actress Linda Gehringer, and a whole lot of Tower Records fans and former employees!