All Things Must Pass is a documentary, yes another one, deal with it, about Tower Records and their rise and fall. Colin Hanks, the man who will always be Alex to me and many other Roswell fans, directed this doc. Now the name Hanks, yes this is the son of Tom Hanks, and no not the rapper. Moving on.
For those of you who don't know, Tower Records was a music store. Back before ITunes was a thing. Russ Soloman was the founder of the place. His father owned a corner store and one day they started selling used records. It did great so they started selling new records. He bought the store next door and extended the building. Russ wanted to expand but his father said no so Russ bought the record company from him.
Tower Records quickly became a place for kids to hang out. The Beach Boys changed the game, selling more albums than singles. As the 60's came radio started changing the way people thought about music and Tower Records used this to gain more and more attention. He wanted to open the largest store in the world while also being the supermarket of records. While hung over in San Francisco he found the perfect place to open the biggest store. It was just sitting there and he went and leased it.
The store hit and people came in droves. It helped that San Fran itself was having people from all over the country coming in for the new music and 60's movement that was growing at the time. They even opened up a book store. Almost everyone in the company started off as clerks and mod their way up. Opening the store on Sunset Blv put them on the map even more than anything that had come before. It was the first building that they built themselves.
Singers would even hang out there. Even Sir. Elton John. He would come in and buy 3 of every album he wanted. The place just wouldn't stop growing. The employees could do whatever they wanted as long as they showed up to work. That was all that really mattered. They would drink all night and go to work in the morning.
The VP of the company ran just about everything. Russ was the free spirit who would let people do what they wanted as long as he finished. Bud, the VP, would control the money and was very strict about everything.
In Japan some company stole their name so Russ just kind of adopted them and would sell his records out of their store. It wasn't doing well so they went to Japan and opened their own store, the first American owned company born there. It did so well that they opened a second store. It started to expand rapidly after that.
Each store felt unique. Almost as if they were the only store in the world. It gave it a home town feel no matter where they went. The death of disco messed the music industry a great deal. MTV and Michael Jackson's album Thriller saved the industry and brought it back to prominence. The last thing that saved music was the CD. It gave it new life in a time when it needed it the most.
Tower records expanded all over the world. It just kept growing and growing outside of the US and Japan. They felt like they couldn't be stopped. Costs kept going up on CD's and Napster came out. It was the beginning of the end of not just Tower Recorders but the music industry as the world knew it.
Tower records started losing money and they had to sell Japan. This nearly ruined them. Bud died and Russ got sick. It seems that everything started to come apart. They needed money from the back but they made Tower Records hire a new CEO. It was the only way they would allow them to borrow the money. The new CEO made them spend all the money on branding, for a company that was already well branded. She started closing different parts of the company. It was horrible. She all but shut Russ out of all decisions in the company. She was firing all of the long term employees.
Tower Records went out of business. They went from the top of the world to the bottom. Even something that feels like it will last forever has to end at some point in time. It was a hard lesson for the world to learn.
Japan gave Tower Records a second life. There are still 85 stores open over there, but not owned by Russ. The banks had him sell if off. This is such a great doc, go and buy it on iTunes now!