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BLOG: Tower Records Historic Preservation With Music Museum

Author Domenic Priore wants to preserve Tower Records as a Sunset Strip Music Museum.

I spoke with Domenic Priore about his historic preservation application for the Tower Records Store property at 8801 Sunset Boulevard. On my local TV Talkshow, we did two half hour videos which are part one and part two posted here for everyone to view. The interviews and photos are great to hear and see.

Below is information Domenic provided on the proposed one of a kind tourist attraction of a museum preserving the iconic music history of the Sunset Strip and the Tower Records legacy.

The Tower Records location on Sunset Strip is a crucial historical landmark in the area, and would be best put to use as a museum about the importance of Sunset Strip in world history.

The history of Hollywood, and Los Angeles, is that of an international a recording center—a center for the music industry with studios  such as RCA Music Center of the World, Columbia Recorders, Capitol Records Studios, Western Recorders, United Recorders, A&M Recording Studios, Liberty Records Studios, Radio Recorders, Gold Star Studios and the Walt Disney-built Sunset Sound. All of these have been based on, or around Sunset Boulevard. One great example of the prominence these studios represent to the music industry would be the prime-era hit records of The Rolling Stones during the 1960s—the group would travel 8,000 miles from England just to make hits such as Satisfaction, Paint it Black and many others in our local environment.

Now that downloading has just about wiped out the physical products known as the “record album” and “compact disc,” the very concept of a "record store" itself deserves recognition and acknowledgement, as something essential to the lives of so many people, be they involved in the music industry, or just to the rest of us who seek redemption, calm, or vitality through music. This phenomenon has been documented by the 2009 book Record Store Days by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo (forward by Peter Buck of R.E.M.). The act of going to a record store must be historically acknowledged in our culture, and there is no better example of a popular record store than the Tower Records location on Sunset Strip.    

Prior to Tower Records existence, the Wallich's Music City record store on the corner of Sunset and Vine became the flagship of the Capitol Records label. The building no longer stands, but Wallich's Music City was, from the 1930s to the 1960s, the prominent record store in Hollywood. With a major generational change during the 1960s, Tower Records takes over from Wallichs' prominence, immediately from Tower Records' local beginning in 1970.  This lasted through to the 2000s... the longest run of of dominance by any Greater Los Angeles area, or California record store.  The Virgin chain doesn't even come close, and Virgin Records seems to be going under as well these days.

Use of the Tower Records space on Sunset Strip maintains a unique importance.  There is a tremendous need for a Sunset Strip history museum, and there seems to be no better location than the historic Tower Records site, especially considering its parking lot, which holds its own contemporary importance, as the lack of parking in West Hollywood's Sunset Strip district has become a big part of the area's recent slump. Local historians such as myself, Jim Heimann, Mark Wanamaker and Alison Martino could serve on a board of governors concerning the local history of Sunset Strip and it's connection to music history, Hollywood night life, and during the '60s, social change.

A proper museum on the Strip in the Tower Records location would do wonders for business in the area, if it was done right, the way a real museum is done in places like New York City or Washington D.C. The Barn across from Hollywood Bowl is OK, but it doesn't really draw people to it with it's neighborhood hokum approach. The Experience Music Project and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are much closer to the kind of interactive display that will work in the Tower Records location. It's not just the lack of parking or traffic that has steered people away from the Strip, a big part of it is the elitist, non-organic approach of its music venues in these latter years; the attitude cultivated on the Strip these days is a big part of its problem, and is why people have gravitated to both Hollywood Boulevard, and to the Los Feliz-Silver Lake-Echo Park and downtown L.A. Areas for nightlife. It would be nice if the Strip had a more egalitarian environment (along with more convenient transportation considerations), and proper museum would make the rest of the world feel more comfortable going to this spot. Recognition of the area as a non-shallow, important cultural center would help draw more relevant business and customers to an area that already includes, directly across the street, a cultural touchstone such as Book Soup.  

Currently, the history of Sunset Strip has been distorted by the interests of local businessmen who basically pitch their stake, and boast beyond what is rational in a historic context. To have a sense of international viability, respect and appeal, a museum needs to have more rational guidelines than the whims of trends and business concerns in constant flux. 

A museum is to be a timeless endeavor, reflecting the true importance of a place in time, and the Sunset Strip's effect on the world outside its sphere  I have covered an important part of this in my book Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood (Jawbone Press, London), which today, a copy sits in each room today of the Andaz Hotel. Jim Heimann's book Out With The Stars (Abbeville Press, New York), published during the 1980s, covers the period of Sunset Strip prior to what is covered in my own book. Mark Wanamaker is the most noted archivist and photographic historian in our area, and Alison Martino is a television producer who knows the studio library archives best; these feature footage and photographs from Sunset Strip's vivid history. The histories local business has put out there skew to more recent times, so they can sell what they're doing now. This just needs to be reined in, and corrected.

The Historic Preservation Commission for the city of West Hollywood will be hearing Domenic Priore’s application some time in 2013. Anyone can participate to speak for or against this application on Tower Records Store.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ali October 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I have a jacket like that too...I got it in 1970. I don't wear it anymore...but I still have it. Nothing wrong with jackets like that.
me October 24, 2012 at 03:27 AM
love the jacket, i just dont think it goes well with the shirt :-) ......he seems like a great guy and it was a very interesting video
Jerome Cleary October 24, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Hey Me, thanks for the positive response to the video. We want to make a first class tourist attraction for the Museum to honor the music greats over the past 10 decades.
Jerome Cleary October 25, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I just added the Tower Records commercial by John Lennon from YouTube so watch it here!
All Things Music Plus+ February 05, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Good luck Jerome! Keep pushing brother

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