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Tower Records Documentary

Captures Bygone Days

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A New Retrospective Film On The Formerly Iconic Record Store Chain, Directed By Colin Hanks, Will Hit The Phoenix Metro Nov. 20


By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

Nov. 5, 2015 — Anyone who lived through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s that even sort of liked music will most definitely remember visiting a Tower Records at some point or another to browse and very likely buy a cassette, CD or LP.

However, Tower Records closed down its last U.S. store in December 2006, and a new documentary directed by Colin Hanks, All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records, details the storied history of the once “monster” record-store chain.

Record stores are largely a thing of the past. Currently, most retail outlets have increasingly shrinking music sections and those who want hard copy music have to resort to independent record stores.

Save for die-hard collectors, many people of the current generation have never even set foot in a real deal record store, partially because they haven’t had the opportunity to.

“I’m not sure they care,” said Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, who was interviewed extensively for the documentary and at the age of 89, still speaks of the experience with a youthful enthusiasm, even if he initially thought the documentary was pretty far fetched.

“When they came to me about the documentary, I thought they were crazy,” Solomon said. Though, it may not have been that crazy as the reception has been “so far so good,” according to Solomon who also said that “it turned out to be a lot of fun,” which definitely comes through in the film.

All Things Must Pass is, in a lot of ways, a fairly straightforward rise-and-fall tale that so often is the subject of a documentary, be it about a band of yesteryear or famous crime figure. However, that is far from all this particular film is about, as it also details the lives of the closely knit group who helped build Tower Records from the ground up and the patrons who adored it.

“I was not as conscious, oddly enough, of how much we had affected so many people,” Solomon said. And the film really hits that point home, showcasing interviews from some very high profile patrons of the former largest music store in the world such as Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, who confidently proclaimed to have spent more money at Tower Records than any other human.

“I got a job at Tower Records because it was the only place I could get a job with my haircut,” Grohl said in the film.

All Things Must Pass was made by Colin Hanks (Orange County, Fargo) who spent five years trying to get it put together and raised much of the films funding through crowdfunding on Kickstarter. After watching the film, it was clear that it was five years well spent.

The communal experience of going to a record store is something that barely exists anymore and the documentary does an excellent job of showcasing that, which feels particularly important at a time when people are streaming music as opposed to even having a digital library.

“It went beyond going into a store like ours. Music was a shared experience,” Solomon said. “I hope that something comes along in the future to replicate what we did.”

As Springsteen said in the film, “The presentation of music was physically exciting,” and that idea is something that younger generations would never understand without this movie and older generations will be fondly reminded of when seeing this movie.

All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records will be screening for a limited time at Harkins Valley Art, 509 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, starting on Nov. 20 Blu-Ray and digital release dates for the film will be coming in the near future. For more information, visit

Ryan Scott is a contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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