I know what you may be thinking: there are Tower Record stores everywhere.
But this one is special.
Right across the street from the original Spago on the Sunset Strip, you'll find the first Tower Records built in the in Los Angeles area (in 1971), a store which has become something of a Hollywood landmark in its own right.
Open until 1 AM on weekends, Tower has long been a popular Tinseltown hangout, and a scene all its own. This big, gaudy flagship store of the Tower Records chain could once claim to be "the largest record store in the nation."
The years have caught up with it, and by today's standards the store's space now actually appears somewhat cramped (at just 10,000 square feet). But somehow, though, this Tower Records store has retained its legendary status.
You never know who you might see there. Rock groups and individual performers show up regularly in person at the store for impromptu concerts or autograph sessions, and special promotional events are common.
In 1995, over 1,000 fans lined up to get autographs from Elton John (who says Tower Records is always his first stop when he comes to L.A.); on June 21st of that same year, both David Hasselhoff ("Baywatch") and singer Engelbert Humperdinck made personal appearances at Tower. Later that year, a giant statue of Michael Jackson was erected in front of the Tower Records store on the day Jackson's "HIStory" CD was released. Soon after, comic Rodney Dangerfield was in store at Tower for the debut of his new album.
In October 1997, Duran Duran staged a reunion concert in Tower's parking lot, while Aerosmith signed autographs there a few days later. Boys II Men showed up for an autograph session that year, and the surviving members of The Doors signed copies of the new Doors anthology
In June of 1998, rocker Rod Stewart performed a free concert in the store's parking lot, as did Natalie Imbruglia two months later. That same year, former teen heartthrob David Cassidy ("The Partridge Family") showed up to perform songs from his new album at Tower Records, and Grace Slick ("The Jefferson Airplane") signed copies of her autobiography there.
In November of 1999, Mariah Carey caused a near-riot at Tower when she showed up to autograph her new CD. Beach Boys' founder Brian Wilson turned up at Tower to autograph his new CD. Randy Newman gave a free concert there in June of '99.
The store is still one of the first places media reporters go when they want to do a story about how well a particular new CD release is selling.
And they get celebrity customers as well... Ben Affleck was spotted shopping there recently. So has Star Trek's Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Molly Ringwald was seen shopping there (during a David Lee Roth autograph session.) Nancy Sinatra says she likes to drop by after dinner to see if they have all of her stuff, and to police the bins for bootlegs of her dad's CD's.
Getting there: The original Tower Records store is located on the north side of the Sunset Strip, at the northwest corner of Horn, right across the street from the site of the original Spago., and about a block east of the Viper Room.
Tower also has a separate "Tower Video" store on the other side of Sunset (at 8844 Sunset). Axl Rose, lead singer for Guns N' Roses, worked there as a night manager in the early 80's. Ten years later, in 1990, he challenged Vince Neil (the Mötley Crüe singer) to a fight in the video store's parking lot. (310) 657-3344.
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