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Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that's not the story. "All Things Must Pass" is a feature documentary film examining this iconic company's explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder Russ Solomon.Written by
To promote the release of the film, the still empty building which once housed the Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood had its facade repainted to appear as it once had. This lead to rumors that the store may reopen, but in fact the building had been sold to Gibson Guitars in 2014 with the intention of opening a guitar showroom, while preserving the historic building itself. Not yet ready to open their showroom, Gibson worked with the documentary makers to repaint the building to display the Tower facade. The repaint was planned to be taken down after the premiere party was held inside the empty building, but remained up for over a year while Gibson continued to plan their new store. See more »
In the closing credits the Japanese Translator, Kyoko Nishijima, is listed twice. See more »
David Geffen, Himself:
If you loved music and you loved having a record collection, which I did, it was exciting to walk through the store. I went there three or four times a week.
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I recall being excited to visit the Tower Records store in LA in the mid 1990s on my first visit to the west coast of the USA. When I returned a decade later to their San Francisco store, it somehow felt less exciting, the store looked a little too ordinary and it seems they were having a fire sale on. A few months later Tower Records had gone bust.
Colin Hanks documentary examines the growth of this record chain from its early years from founder's Russ Solomon's dad's drug store where he had a section which sold records.
Russ took over the business in the 1960s, starting in the west coast and moving to the east coast and then internationally to Japan.
As is the case, these heady years of the counterculture was a supposedly drug and drink fuelled hazy party for the staff (it always seem to be the case with maverick start ups.) Live hard and party hard was the motto. The staff I saw in the 1990s seemed to be mainly bored teenagers on minimum wage.
At the turn of the millennium Tower Records was valued at $1 billion. Their seemed to be no end to its success and they were determined to sell albums, preferably CDs.
The impact of online shopping was a body blow. The Apple Store allowed you to buy singles you wanted for 99 cents. Tower Records wanted you to buy the whole album for an ever increasing price and their online servers was on AOL.
Even worse the young IT savvy consumer could now get music for free from Napster and other torrent sites. Combined with the company's debt laden expansion, choppy waters awaited them.
The documentary interviews key staff from the early days as well as the man himself Russ Soloman who comes across as a charismatic maverick. We also get to hear from musicians such as Dave Grohl, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen about their joy in visiting the Tower Record stores, browsing, talking to aficionados. Elton admits he spent a fortune in their shops.
The documentary was a bit messy, in fact a little overlong. We see a former executive being fired by a new management team and how Russ took him out for a meal after a Christmas party which bought him to tears. I wanted to know why he was fired, why he could not get another job, what happened after he went for a meal with Russ and then the same executive turns up later on when the attention shifts to the company's declining fortunes.
In fact seeing some of the staff being interviewed I was impressed how they managed to become so big, it seemed to be more by serendipity than design.
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