Nearly seven years after actor-director Colin Hanks began making it and four years after a hit Kickstarter campaign that helped finance it, the Tower Records documentary All Things Must Pass is set for its world premiere.
The South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, today announced the movie as part of its documentary program for 2015. All Things Must Pass chronicles the rise and fall of the Sacramento-based Tower Records, which grew into a global entertainment brand from its modest beginnings in a drugstore on Broadway in the 1950s.
The film, directed by Hanks and produced by Sean Stuart (both native Sacramentans), features interviews with Tower founder Russ Solomon, rock icons (and Tower devotees) Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, industry luminary David Geffen, and an assortment of former staffers who recount the go-go days of Tower’s ascendancy alongside the music business’ boom in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s—and its inexorable decline and eventual closure in the United States in 2006. (Tower Records still thrives today in Japan, a phenomenon also chronicled in the film.)
In addition to interviews and location footage shot at the since-demolished Watt Avenue Tower store in 2008, the documentary also comprises archival movies and photography gathered from the Tower Records Project in Sacramento.
All Things Must Pass was the beneficiary of a wildly successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2011, which raised more than $92,000 for the film’s research and production.
The movie’s premiere date in Austin is March 17, with additional screenings on March 19 & 20. SXSW’s film component runs March 13-21. For more info and a list of other films showing at the festival, visit sxsw.com
The Tower Records story is about a man, his company and the unprecedented economic and cultural impact it had on the music industry and people around the world. Tower Records begins with the man who created it… Russ Solomon.
From an early age, Solomon had a special love of music, a dynamic personality and the inventiveness of a crafty entrepreneur. His first job was sweeping floors in his father’s drug store, located in the Tower Theater building, in the sleepy northern California town of Sacramento. Still a teenager, Solomon had the idea to sell discarded record singles from the counter-top jukeboxes for 5 cents a piece. His father gave him a shelf in the back of the drug store and this became the training ground for Russ Solomon, the young man, who would one day create a Billion dollar a year music empire.
From the opening of the first Tower Records in 1960, Solomon empowered employees at each store to make the decisions necessary to help foster the local music taste. This leadership style gave each Tower outlet a great sense of individuality and to its employees a great sense of responsibility and pride, not often found within the “corporate” environment. Tower records helped lay the groundwork for what would become the modern music retail business and in the year 2000 alone, the company did over one billon dollars in business.
From a cultural standpoint, Tower Records had a monumental impact on millions of people, worldwide. It was “the place” to escape for a few hours; a sanctuary, a haven. Tower Records was a place to meet your friends, your co-workers or a place to meet new friends who shared a common love of music, literature and all things cultural.
Yet, in 2004 the company filed for bankruptcy and by the end of 2006, Russ Solomon’s Tower Records had shut the doors to nearly every one of its worldwide outlets.