Tower Records: An Iconic Logo & Look at my Past

Tower logo and a look at my past.

Tower Records: A Logo & Look at my Past

This is more of a personal blog today, but there is a tenuous link to Canva, branding etc too. This post contains affiliate links.

Aren’t impulses odd? Last night, for no apparent reason, I decided to create my name in the style of the Tower Records logo in Canva. I have no idea why, but I just went with it (and ended up staying up far too late in the process).

Thea in Tower Logo - red and yellow circle.

In order to make it, I needed to use the background remover (a Canva Pro feature) a lot, but more on that later…

Why Tower Records?

Why pick Tower Records? Two reasons really…Firstly, I started record shopping at Tower Records in Campbell when I was in junior high school – well before I could drive. Every week or two I’d take the 62 bus from Los Gatos down Bascom Ave to the Campbell store. Invariably I’d spend my pocket money on vinyl records, the odd cassette and, many years later, would regularly shop for CDs there. I have fond memories of picking up Ac/DC’s Back in Black and Sammy Hagar’s Street Machine…The young rocker that I was.

Columbus & Bay

Whenever I’d go to SF, I’d always want to shop at the seminal Tower at Columbus and Bay store. As was the case in all of the shops world wide, they often had in stores and session there too…Like the time the Alarm came to do a signing outside in the parking lot. I took many a snap as they signed autographs, including the one they signed for me (bottom right) which I still have here…as I was a very big fan of theirs for awhile.

The Alarm's record signing at Tower in SF - Columbus and Bay.

When I was an intern for RCA/A&M/Arista, I recall Joan Armatrading doing an even there. She was a very nice lady. I don’t think I took any pictures that day. Oh well.

Tower Mountain View

Tower Records, Mick Hucknall from Simply Red

The second reason is that Tower Records, Mountain View, was my very first job right out of high school. I worked there for two years and to this day, it remains one of my best jobs ever. Not only was fun, but I also made some dear friends – who have remained friends – even decades later.

Music has always been my life, only slightly less so with age. So in that job, it was great having early access to concert tickets, pre-releases and in-store concerts, record signings and no dress code too.

One memorable “in store” was Simply Red (pictured above) around the time their first record came out. I took some pictures out back when they came to do the signing” and even played a bit of “footie” with the band – even though I was in a skirt and some pumps!

Tower in London

In 1987, I spent a semester abroad in London and would shop at all three of the stores each week. By the time I was heading back home in the summer, I had a bag of more than a hundred vinyl records. So clearly not only has Tower had a massive impact on my life, but it turns out I live its tag line as well. “No music, no life”.

The Iconic Tower Logo

Tower Records Logo Designer

That beautiful Tower Records logo is positively iconic for us music lovers – especially those of us who hail from from Northern California – where the chain was launched in 1960.

This version of Tower’s logo was designed back in the ’80s by Jeff Williams. According to his site, the lettering was “hand-drawn and had been recreated in a digital format”. It has remained their logo since.

Sadly, Tower went into liquidation in 2006 – with the US shops closing. Most shops around the world have closed now too. According to Wikipedia, “As of 2021 two stores still operate in Ireland both located in Dublin, one on Dawson Street and the other on O’Connell Street upstairs in Easons.” (link to the page is down below). I must get over there to have a wander around it this year.

Tower in Glasgow, Scotland

Back when I first moved to Glasgow, in the ’90s, I got a job at our Tower too. Sadly my Mountain View experience was not to be recreated, and I only lasted there a month. I worked two weeks, went on holiday to California, came back and gave my two weeks notice.

Still I did love shopping the many floors of that store, and have seen many amazing artists do sets in it. Today the store remains all boarded up – a sad abandoned shell – which makes me sad each time I pass.

The Tower Movie!

Years ago I was delighted to be one of many financial contributors to a documentary film directed by Tom Hank’s son Colin Hanks. It was called All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records. I even got my name in the final credits!

You can see the film’s page on Amazon US

Are You a Tower Fan Too?

Were you a Tower shopper? If so, which store was your store? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Oh how I used to love the fact it was open 7 days a week until midnight. So even on Christmas or Thanksgiving, my pal Brent and I would use “do a Tower run” for a browse. I still have almost all the records, tapes and CDs I got there…as I find parting with my music collection for too hard. Honestly, I would estimate that about half of my music collection comes from one of the many Towers that were spread around the bay area and even across the globe.

Some Tower Resources:

The story behind Tower Records.

Wikipedia page for Tower Records and the All Things Must Pass documentary – which I’ve been re-watching for inspiration! So good.

There’s also a Facebook page for Tales of Tower Records.

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