Tower Records’ Place in Music History Is Being Remembered in New Doc (Video)

It goes without saying that every generation of music fan has its earliest, almost primordial memories of when and how it fell in love with music. For some, these memories conjure up images of a live show or a particular lyric that sounded like it was written just for the listener. For others, falling in love with music is inextricably linked to the act of purchasing music, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, when consumer culture added an element of ritual to the relationship between musician and fan. Retail outlets became almost holy, places where one could spend hours rifling through the latest releases or stroll back throughout earlier eras, stumbling upon jewels along the way. In the United States, there was perhaps no bigger purveyor of such an experience as Tower Records. And now, the defunct pop-culture giant has a starring role in a documentary slated for release in October.

Called All Things Must Pass, the film is a Colin Hanks (“Mad Men,” Orange County)-directed look at the triumphant rise and tragic fall of Tower Records, equal parts history lesson, eulogy, and celebration. Front and center is the company’s founder who is now 90 years old. Solomon opened his first Tower Records in San Francisco in the ’60s and expanded to Los Angeles in 1970. In the next four decades, Tower Records became the preeminent music store, eventually popping up in Ireland, Japan, Thailand, and more countries around the world. Those four decades provided music fans a place to congregate, discover, and carry out a process that is now considered by some to be a bygone ritual – deciding which album to buy this time. There are many who lament over the fact that today’s youngest generations may never know the satisfaction of unwrapping an LP, tape, or CD and discovering its artwork and reading its liner notes, activities made possible to so many by companies like Tower Records. In today’s digital age, the outlier is the one who purchases a physical copy of an album, but in All Things Must Pass, she is the hero.

Featuring contributions from Chuck D, Dave Grohl, Elton John, and Solomon himself, the film is scheduled to hit theaters on October 16. In the meantime, check out the trailer right here.

Do you have a favorite Tower Records (or any CD store) memory?

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