Tower Records USA

I spent eleven years of my life on Sunset Strip.

When I moved from New York City to Los Angeles, I arrived on a Thursday night, enjoyed a three-day weekend in my warm and sunny new town, enjoying what Angelenos called “winter”. Come Monday morning, I headed for the only place I wanted to work, Tower Records. Walked in without an appointment, got myself interviewed, started on the night crew the next day, April Fool’s Day, 1980.
When I left in 1991, to open Tower Topanga in Woodland Hills, CA, I held the rank of General Manager, having managed Tower Sunset through its top grossing year (before or since). My Tower arc would eventually lead me to Israel and, ultimately, to the corporate headquarters in W. Sacramento, CA, but my days at “the most famous record store in the world” were unforgettable.

  belushi

Tower Sunset was always a haven for celebrities, record store to the stars, “the most famous record store in the world”. Here’s John Belushi and Judy Jacklin, just a few blocks from the Chateau Marmont, where John ultimately met his maker in March of ’82.

 

george duke

 The late, great George Duke. Not too many guys whose resume boasts both Miles Davis and Frank Zappa.

 

Hannah on Sunset Sam on Sunset
Membership has its privileges. Both of my 80’s kids had their births announced on Sunset Strip!

Ringo
Richie and I were super tight, actually shared a house together for 7 or 8 months back in 1988, killed a lot of brain cells together.

Okay, that’s total bullshit, but you freakin’ believed it! Sucka! I often say, people will believe anything you tell them, except the truth.
I saw Ringo in Tower Sunset once or twice; very nice gent. One night I chatted with him and Harry Nilsson for a few minutes. So, I’m at this dinner party thrown in his honor before one of his early All-Starr Band shows at the Greek Theater. It was “grip n’ grin” hour (you can see the Sharpie in his hand) and when my turn came up, Ringo says, “Hey, I know you” so I sat down 🙂 I like to call this picture, “When I talk, Ringo listens”.


Wallwall handThis was one of the greatest stunts ever at Tower Sunset. When Roger Waters announced the Wall concerts in Berlin, they flew the Schoolmaster over the store. It. Was. Huge! At one point I went across the street, to the roof of the Carolco building, where I was soon joined by Roger’s official photographer. His photo, of our store, was in the concert program, which I got a copy of from Russ Solomon himself.


Willie Dixon
What can I say. I mean, Willie Dixon! Whoa!


push
Um, well… Sunset stayed open ’til midnight, Fridays and Saturdays ’til 1AM. Even then, people would not accept that we ever closed. And they’d try darn near anything to get us to open the doors back up. Push, push, indeed.

I remember the night Chevy Chase was banging on the door, insisting that we let him in. Mind you, what happened at closing time was that the manager and the cashier(s) would be in the back room counting out the money, while the rest of us would clean the store. After 20 or 30 minutes, we’d all clock out and start gathering by the door, waiting the last few minutes before we’d get released. So Chevy is pounding on the door, getting hotter and hotter, starting to foam at the mouth; not especially concerned that we keep telling him, “we’re closed, jag off. There’s no money in the registers, we’re about to leave and lock up.” Finally, he does it. He actually says, “Do you know who I am?”.

Uh… yup. You’re the asshole who ain’t getting in!

punk chix
Always plenty of characters around the strip. Here are a passel o’ punk chicks, circa 1980.

KC
Gary Gorman, aka KC. Gary used to come in just about every night of the week and camp out in the Jazz section, talking to anyone who would listen about how Kansas City was the greatest city in the word; best Jazz, best barbecue, best baseball team…

So why are you in LA?

dog drive
And hey, who doesn’t love a dog driving a VW microbus?


Speaking of animals…
Buk3
 One of my favorite photos of me.
Always a lot of great in-store events and promotions at Tower Sunset. Not exactly sure how I ended up in a Mets t-shirt chilling with a donkey who has a TV strapped to his back, but…
Timbuk3 – the Future’s So Bright…(where the heck was PETA?!)

 

bozzio
Dale Bozzio (and part of Warren Cuccurullo) of the Missing Persons. Best known as new wave hit makers, I prefer to think of them as members of Frank Zappa’s band. .

 

And, of course, no Tower Records portfolio of mine could be complete without a picture of Russ flipping me off.
Russ Loves Me
Or trying to, anyway. Couldn’t quite get that finger up:)

Oh no, you didn’t!

Yeah, I’m afraid I did.
More to come. The archives are very deep!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Tower Records USA

  1. My pleasure! So much of my music industry experience revolved around free meals. So glad I could pass it on.

    So, what did you eat?

  2. Thank you! Now all I have to do is figure out how to get an email when someone has commented so that I can respond a little sooner.

    I hope you’ll come back again to read more stories and maybe enjoy some tunes 🙂

    Thanks again!

  3. Thanks very much. Yes, I designed it myself, but in all honesty, it’s a pretty simple WordPress theme (WordPress 4.1 running Twenty Eleven theme), so I didn’t do too much 🙂

    Cheers,
    Joel

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