“All Things Must Pass”: How the Tower of music came crumbling down


“All Things Must Pass” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:36, three stars out of four.

The numbers on them were usually too high, but I still miss those little yellow price stickers. Whether it was going to the two-story Tower Records on Chicago’s North Side or making a pilgrimage to the massive store on Columbus and Bay whenever I was in San Francisco, there was something special about Tower Records. While the Sound Warehouses and Sam Goody’ses felt impersonal, Tower seemed like that rarity — a successful franchise that was also your neighborhood record store.

But nothing lasts forever, especially in the music business. Tower Records was a billion-dollar business in 2001 and dead in 2006, succumbing to a combination of market forces (hello Napster!) and self-inflicted wounds. The entertaining and elegaic documentary “All Things Must Pass” by Colin Hanks (son of Tom) tells the story of Tower Records’ rise and fall, mixing testimonials from some famous customers (Elton John, Bruce Springsteen) with war stories from the guys who started it all.

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