Closing time for the city stores that 'loved music'
BY DAVID HINCKLEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Shopper sees if there is any meat left to pick off the bones of Tower Records at Lincoln Center. The chain closes for good tonight.
Ramsey Jones says it was no big secret how Tower Records became a New York institution in its 23 years here.
"This store knew and loved music," said Jones, who has worked in the Greenwich Village Tower for 16 years. "If you came in for something, we didn't just point. We knew what it was."
He remembers the woman who would fly in from California to ask what was new and good; the deejay from Spain who would drop a grand or two on jazz records that Jones recommended.
"He spent so much, we gave him a discount," Jones said. "But that's how it was here. People trusted us."
Whatever the bond, it ends tonight when the chain that opened in California in 1960 and came to New York in 1983 locks all its doors for good and takes a good-sized chunk of an era with it.
Jones, a musician who has played on records by artists including Wu-Tang Clan, looked over the carcass that remained - a jumble of empty racks and a handful of movies and CDs that are quickly running out of time.
A DVD of "Hot Rod Top 10" is marked $3.99. A Lee Greenwood "God Bless the USA" CD is 80% off. A DMX poster is $10. Cassettes are a penny.
Peppy dance hits play in the background over WNEW-FM, which 15 years ago was sending listeners to Tower to buy rock 'n' roll.
Tower Records stores - the Lincoln Center outlet as well as the one at Broadway and E.Fourth St. - were a crossroads and a New York destination.
They weren't stores people wandered into because they were in the neighborhood. They rode subways to get there, and the yellow Tower bag with the bright-red block letters was as distinctive in this world as a baby-blue Tiffany's box on Fifth Ave.
Friday night at 11:30 in Tower Records was like Macy's at noon on a sale day, and it was rarely a crowd that wanted to grab the new Elton John album and bolt. These were folks who worked their way down a rack of records.
"You didn't just get what you heard on the radio here," said Jones. "You could find things the radio never played. People would say they liked something and ask what else I thought they might like. They were adventurous. I see less of that now."
Tower had its detractors, people who saw it bashing down the gates for megastores that have put so many independents and specialty stores out of business.
But artists liked it, especially the kind of emerging and nonmainstream artists who used to play the Bottom Line, a wonderful club a block west of the downtown store.
"Tower would carry their music," said Bottom Line co-owner Allan Pepper. "Tower would take the chance."
The Bottom Line is gone now, too, and Jones thinks the loss of Tower reflects erosion in our broader culture.
"Record companies don't care about music any more," he says. "It's all marketing. 'Get me somebody who looks like this.' It doesn't matter if they have nothing to say. They just have to look right in the video.
"Music means so much more than that. And now we're losing another place where it did."
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
20 DECEMBER 2006
Music legend Elton John may be doing more than belting out the hits at the Diana Memorial Concert in July next year. According to reports, the singer has been asked by Prince William and Prince Harry to compere the event, introducing the acts and hosting the show.
Speaking at Monday night's premiere of partner David Furnish's film It's A Girl Boy Thing, Elton explained: "They said there could be a role for me doing the MC bit by linking it all together, and asked whether I would mind doing it - which of course I don't! William and Harry are going to be choosing all the acts, but I will help out in any which way."
Sir Elton also revealed that - if the Princes requested it - he would perform the song he wrote for Diana's funeral, Candle In The Wind.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be performing at this great event. Diana was a personal friend and someone I greatly admired for her tireless and enthusiastic work for charity."