ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
A patron leaves the Tower Records store in West Hollywood, California, February 6, 2004.
West Hollywood's Historic Preservation Commission is considering a proposal to designate the old Tower Records building on the Sunset Strip into an historical landmark. Dominic Priore, author of "Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood,” is spearheading the effort to not only get landmark status for the location, but also possibly turn it into a museum.
"I was one of many people who was driven to Sunset Strip even before I could drive. It was like a pilgrimage, and it didn't matter where you lived in the greater LA area, you might have even passed by the Tower that was near your house to get to the one up on the Strip." said Priore on Take Two. "Tower was an important place … It has about 30 years of being a sort of the pipeline, the funnel for bringing new artists or new pieces of work out to the public."
The record store opened in 1971 and quickly established itself as a key intersection for music lovers and music industry folks. Musicians and bands would make appearances to promote new albums, perform live concerts at the building and people would come from far and wide to search through racks of records. Before Tower moved in, the building housed a 'Madman' Muntz Stereo store, the first place car stereos were sold and marketed.
The store closed in 2006, two years after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and today houses a clothing store called Live on Sunset. Centrum Partners proposed a mixed-use project on the property, including a David Barton gym, but the proposal was turned down twice by the West Hollywood City Council because issues of parking and traffic were judged to be too cumbersome for the area.
One obstacle facing Priore's effort is that historical landmarks are usually given to buildings with architectural significance. However, Priore says the location's cultural significance should be taken into account.
"The Tower Records building is just a stock building of the era, it's not architecturally important," said Priore. "The City of West Hollywood is very emphasized on saving architectural sites, but a cultural resource designations says this is not about the buildings. It is really about the human emotion that came to that place from all over the world."
Among Priore's goals is to get the city to turn the building into a museum of Sunset Strip's rich history.
"Sunset Strip really needs a museum. A Sunset Strip museum where it would show the history of this place and why Sunset Strip is a famous name,"said Priore. "We have some great museums in town, but local history is not really shown as well as it should."