TOWER RECORDS was a retail music chain based in Sacramento,
California , USA. It currently exists as an international franchise
and an online music store . From 1960 until 2006, Tower operated
retail stores in the United States, which closed when Tower Records
filed for bankruptcy and liquidation . Tower.com was purchased by a
separate entity and was not affected by the retail store closings. The
corporate name was MTS Inc., but this was little-known compared to the
much more widely recognized Tower Records.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Inception, expansion, and description
* 1.2 Tower Pulse! Magazine
* 2 Other stores
* 2.1 Online return
* 3 International stores
* 3.1 Canada
* 3.2 Ireland
* 3.3 Israel
* 3.5 Mexico
* 3.12 Taiwan
* 3.13 United Kingdom
* 4 Documentary
* 5 References
* 6 External links
INCEPTION, EXPANSION, AND DESCRIPTION
Russell Solomon opened the first
Tower Records store on Watt
Sacramento, California . He named it for his father's
drugstore, which shared a building and name with the Tower Theater,
where Solomon first started selling records. By 1976, Solomon had
opened Tower Books, Posters, and Plants at 1600 Broadway, next door to
Tower Records. In 1995, Tower.com opened, making the enterprise one of
the first retailers to move online.
In addition to
CDs and cassette tapes , the stores sold DVDs,
electronic gadgets like mp3 players , video games, accessories, and
toys, and a few
Tower Records locations sold books as well, such as
those in Brea , Mountain View , and Sacramento, California, as well as
stores in Nashville , New York ,
Portland, Oregon , and Seattle .
Tower Records on the
Seven years after its founding,
Tower Records expanded to San
Francisco , opening a store in what was originally a grocery store at
Bay Street and Columbus Avenue . In
Tower Records in Japan
started its business as the
Japan Branch of MTS Incorporated. The
Sapporo Store, the first in
Japan opened. The chain
eventually expanded internationally to include stores in the Japan,
United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea,
Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, United Arab
Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina. The Tower Records
Japan split off from the main chain and are now independent.
Arguably the most famous
Tower Records outlet was the purpose built
building that company staff general-contracted, with many personally
contributing their labor, which opened in 1971 on the north west
Sunset Boulevard and Horn Avenue in West Hollywood .
New York City
New York City ,
Tower Records operated a suite of stores on and
near lower Broadway in the East Village . The main store, located at
the southeast corner of East 4th Street and Broadway, consisted of
four levels, sold mainstream items, and was famous in the 1980s for
selling albums of European new wave bands not yet popular in the U.S.
It was a noted hangout for teenagers from the wider metropolitan area.
Tower Records Annex was in the same building, but located "in the
back" at the southwest corner of East 4th and Lafayette Streets , and
stocked items that were older and a bit more obscure. (As the CD
replaced the LP, vinyl moved from the main store to the Annex.) The
third store, Tower
Video located on the southeast corner of East 4th
and Lafayette Streets, specialized in video and, for a while, the
second floor of this location also sold books. Their location on the
Upper West Side
Upper West Side , near
Lincoln Center on 66th Street and Broadway, was
a magnet for those working in the field of musical theatre .
The Nashville location on West End Avenue (across from Vanderbilt
University ) was in a former
Packard dealership. The old showroom
floor in front was devoted to CDs, cassettes and vinyl. The area in
the back housed videocassette sales and rentals, PC and console games
and music paraphernalia. The strip mall next door contained a separate
Tower Books. The location was famous for their late-night Monday
events that culminated at midnight on Tuesday when staff started
ringing up sales of new releases. Because of the store's proximity to
Music Row , country music stars could occasionally be seen performing
or shopping there.
As part of a 2002 settlement with 41 states over CD price fixing
Tower Records, along with retailers
Musicland and Trans World
Entertainment , agreed to pay a $3 million fine. It is estimated that
between 1995 and 2000 customers were overcharged by nearly $500
million and up to $5 per album.
In 2005, the company began using "scan and listen" stations in its
stores. These stations allowed customers to listen to audio samples
CDs and to search for particular songs, albums and artists. This
model of listening station is still used at the Arizona-based chain
In 2006, the company introduced the Tower Insider program. The
program was free of charge and allowed a customer to receive a
membership card which could be scanned with each purchase, allowing
the customer to receive coupons and notification of special deals via
TOWER PULSE! MAGAZINE
In 1983, the company began publishing a music magazine, Pulse! ,
which contained record reviews, interviews, and advertising.
Initially, it was given away free in their stores to promote their
record sales. After nine years, in 1992, the magazine began national
distribution with a cover price of $2.95, but it was cancelled when
the company discontinued U.S. operations. From 1983 until December
Tower Records published it monthly, 222 issues in all.
Tower Records entered bankruptcy for the first time in 2004. Factors
cited were the heavy debt incurred during its aggressive expansion in
the 1990s, growing competition from mass discounters and Internet
piracy . Mismanagement, managerial incompetence, and crippling
restrictions from the first bankruptcy deal also contributed to
Some observers took a pragmatic view. As
Robert Moog , inventor of
Moog synthesizer , has stated: "I'm sorry if Tower Records' and
Blockbuster's sales plummet. On the other hand, it wasn't that long
ago that those megastore chains drove a lot of neighborhood record
stores out of business."
In February 2004, the debt was estimated to be between $80 million
and $100 million, and assets totaled just over $100 million.
On August 20, 2006,
Tower Records filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the
second time, in order to facilitate a purchase of the company prior to
the holiday shopping season.
Tower Records store in
Portland, Oregon .
On October 6, 2006, Great American Group won an auction of the
company's assets and commenced liquidation proceedings the following
day. This included going-out-of-business sales at all U.S. Tower
Records locations, the last of which closed on December 22, 2006. The
Tower Records website was sold separately.
The managers of f.y.e. , a music store chain based in shopping malls,
had negotiated a deal to acquire the two historic Tower locations in
the latter's home base of Sacramento. f.y.e. later backed out, stating
that the "leases aren't what we thought they were". f.y.e. did acquire
the lease of the West End Avenue store in Nashville , which
eventually closed in 2011. f.y.e. also took over a
Tower Records in
Torrance , which continued to operate until early 2016.
Rasputin Music, a new and used music and video store based in the San
Francisco Bay Area , expanded in the Central Valley of California by
acquiring the leases for the former
Tower Records stores in Fresno and
Tower Records for rent in
Lincoln Park, Chicago
The Landmark Plaza
Tower Records Store in
Alexandria, Virginia was
permanently closed on December 18, 2006, and the Tysons Corner,
Virginia , store permanently closed on December 21, 2006. The noted
24-year-old store in
Washington, D.C. (Foggy Bottom ) closed down the
next day, as did the store in
Atlanta, Georgia .
On Friday, December 22, 2006 – 40 years after Solomon had opened
Tower Records store in Sacramento - the last Tower Records
New York City
New York City , located at 1961 Broadway, one block north of
Lincoln Center , on
Manhattan 's West Side , closed permanently along
with all of the other remaining
Tower Records stores in the United
States. The final
Tower Records store (in the
Pacific Time Zone
Pacific Time Zone ) to
be closed was the one in Mountain View, which closed at 5:00 p.m.
One building in Sacramento had been a
Tower Records store for 40
years, and the lot across the street had been the location where
Solomon began selling records in 1941.
R5 Records closed on June 4, 2010, and was sold to rival Dimple
Records, which will reopen the store in mid-July 2010.
Tower Records building in
Boston , located at the intersection of
Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue , was instrumental in the
conversion of the former street's commercial value. The eight-story
building, renovated by
Frank Gehry in the late 80s, is prominently
visible from the eastbound Massachusetts Turnpike . The store (which
occupied the first five stories) featured gold stars of
Gang Starr ,
New Kids on the Block , and
Yo-Yo Ma )
embedded in the front landing.
Virgin Megastore took over the store
from 2002 to 2007. The space was later a
Best Buy store and, after
being vacant for some time, in 2016 was opened as a
T.J. Maxx store.
On-line merchant Caiman, Inc., reopened the website from Montreal,
Quebec , on June 1, 2007. This company also announced plans to reopen
the stores themselves—opening stores in Los Angeles, New York, and
San Francisco within the next nine months. They hired former Tower
buyer Kevin Hawkins to assist with the re-opening. (Hawkins, however,
along with former Tower employee George Scarlett, then left Caiman.)
In 2009, Richard Flynn was hired as President. The website remains
based in Montreal but the relaunch of the brand never moved forward.
Tower Records operated in Canada in the mid 1990s with a flagship
store at the
Toronto Eaton Centre at the corner of Queen and Yonge
which opened in December 1995 and closed in 2001.
Tower Records opened
a second location in Toronto in the late nineties at North York Centre
also on Yonge Street but was closed just prior to the flag ship store
Tower Records is operated in Ireland by RECORD "> , two stores still
operate in Ireland both located in Dublin, one on
Dawson Street , with
a café upstairs called "Sound Bites" and the other on O\'Connell
Street upstairs in
Easons . It is proposed that
Tower Records could
expand to other cities in Ireland in the coming years.
Tower Records Israel opened in 1993; a joint venture between Tower
Records USA (MTS INC of W. Sacramento, CA) and two local businessmen.
The Founding Director was Joel Abramson, who had previously managed
Sunset Strip location in Los Angeles. The first three
locations were in Tel Aviv (the Opera Tower), Haifa (Hutzot HaMifratz,
opened in early 1995) and Jerusalem (1995). The Tel Aviv location,
with its beachfront location, was a popular shopping spot for Israeli
pop stars like David Broza, Meir Ariel, Aviv Gefen, Riki Gal and
others. TRI closed its final location in Ra'anana in November 2015.
Tower Shibuya store.
Tower Records in
Japan started its business as the Japan
Branch of MTS Incorporated. The following year,
Sapporo Store, the
Japan opened. In 1981, Japanese subsidiary Tower Records
Japan Inc. (TRJ) was established.
In October, 2002, TRJ went independent from the international chain
by management buyout . The bankruptcy of
Tower Records in the U.S. in
2006 did not affect TRJ as it had been completely independent (as of
NTT DoCoMo and Seven ">, but eventually closed.
Tower Records opened stores in
Thailand in the 1990s, introducing
comprehensive music CD stocking into
Thailand for the first time with
revolutionary effects on the retail music business. There were several
stores in Bangkok, including three megastores inside popular downtown
malls. In the 2000s as business declined due to piracy and the
downloading revolution, the stores were progressively closed and the
remaining ones were eventually sold to another dealer.
One of the biggest megastores was located on the top floor of
CentralWorld mall in central
Tower Records opened stores in
South Korea in the 1990s, with stores
Tower Records opened three stores in the
Philippines in the 1990s.
The first branch was located in Glorietta 3 Ayala Center Makati City
which opened in 1998 . The second store was in Alabang Town Center
Muntinlupa City which opened on 1999. The third store was in
Robinson's Place Manila, all of which are in the National Capital
Tower Records opened stores in
Malaysia in the 1990s.
Tower Records opened stores in
Singapore in the 1990s.
Tower Records opened stores in the
Hong Kong in the 1990s. There were
two stores, one located on the seventh floor of Times Square at
Causeway Bay , the other at
Diamond Hill .
Tower Records opened two mega stores in Taipei, Taiwan in the 1990s.
Both stores were located in popular areas of Taipei。They became
centers of fashion and music during their existence.
Originally TOWER RECORDS was just a London-based concern, with a
first store in
Kensington High Street
Kensington High Street in 1984 being followed the next
year by a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) flagship outlet at 1
Piccadilly Circus and later two more, smaller outlets at
Bayswater , and Kingston . However, by the start of the 1990s the
chain had grown to encompass a number of other stores, with large
entertainment stores also selling movies, books, magazines and games
Glasgow , as well as a number of smaller stores that
had been purchased from rival American retailer
Sam Goody when it had
left the UK marketplace (for example of this express
However, with tough trading conditions in the UK market, as well as
the company's trouble in the States, the firm followed
Sam Goody in
retreating from the UK market. The London stores in
Kensington were sold to
Virgin Group in 2003, who for a while traded
under the Tower brand at the former site until the store could be
fully refurbished, while the other stores were closed. The store was
subsequently renamed Zavvi in September 2007 after a management buyout
Virgin Megastores . The
Piccadilly store closed on Wednesday,
14 January 2009 by the administrators and is now occupied by a
non-music retailer as of 2017.
All Things Must Pass (2015) is a documentary by filmmaker Colin Hanks
chronicling the rise and fall of Tower Records, using archival footage
and exclusive interviews with former staff, especially Russell Solomon
and former COO Stan Goman, as well as celebrity customers Bruce
Elton John and
Dave Grohl . Another documentary called
Art Gods (2013) is an oral history of the development of an
influential in-store display design ethic at Tower, originating from
the Berkeley location.
* ^ As Tower Fades at Home, It Still Shines Abroad
* ^ "Tower Theatre Homepage". Retrieved 2006-08-26.
* ^ "
Tower Records Turns To Digital Downloads". Rap News Network.
June 28, 2006.
* ^ Vincent, Roger (November 10, 2014). "Gibson to open store at
Tower Records site in West Hollywood".
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times .
* ^ Branson-Potts, Hailey (November 19, 2013). "No historic
Tower Records store on Sunset Strip". Los Angeles
* ^ "CD Price Fixing Suit Settled For $143 Million". Billboard.
2002-10-01. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
* ^ Stephen Labaton (2000-05-11). "5 Music Companies Settle Federal
Case On CD Price-Fixing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
* ^ "
Tower Records Deploys TouchMedia’s In-Store Digital Media
Stations" (PDF). TouchMedia. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
* ^ "
Tower Records Files For Bankruptcy". CBS News. February 9,
* ^ Jens F. Laurson & George A. Pieler (2006-11-15). "The Tower
Forbes . Retrieved 2008-12-09.
* ^ Kettlewell, Ben (March–April 2003). "Synthesizer Pioneer: Dr.
Robert Moog". ArtistPro Magazine. p. 47.
* ^ "
Tower Records declares bankruptcy". BBC News. February 9,
2004. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
Dow Jones Newswires (2006-08-22). "
Tower Records files for
Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2006-08-22.
* ^ "
Tower Records to be liquidated". Hollywood Reporter.
* ^ "Buh-Bye, Tower West End; Hello f.y.e". Nashville Scene.
November 10, 2006.
* ^ Bob Shallit: Russ Solomon\'s presence will be felt at new
Dimple site in Sacramento
The Sacramento Bee
The Sacramento Bee , June 5, 2010
* ^ Goodison, Donna, "
T.J. Maxx coming to long-vacant Newbury
Street spot in Back Bay",
Boston Herald, Wednesday, July 01, 2015
* ^ http://www.towerrecords.ie/aboutus.asp
* ^ https://twitter.com/Tower_Records/status/6656031660707840
* ^ http://www.haaretz.co.il/gallery/music/.premium-1.2777216
Tower Records Store Information (in Japanese)
Tower Records Shibuya Store press release dated June, 2000 (in
(IN JAPANESE). MARCH 1, 2010. RETRIEVED AUGUST 23, 2010.
IMPRESS AV WATCH (IN JAPANESE). MARCH 1, 2010. RETRIEVED AUGUST 23,
* ^ "タワレコのアイドルレーベル感謝祭が大盛況".
Billboard Daily News. Billboard
Japan . 2012-12-11. Retrieved
* ^ http://www.centralworld.co.th/en/index.aspx
* ^ https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=Fw0EAAAAMBAJ
* ^ https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=sA0EAAAAMBAJ
* ^ Mary Fagan,
Tower Records to sell remaining British sites to
Daily Telegraph , 26 January 2003
* ^ "ALL THINGS MUST PASS". TowerRecordsMovie.com. Retrieved
October 25, 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to TOWER RECORDS .
Tower Records Project — an archives project and campaign to
Tower Records history.
* Tower Records