Views on pop culture through my eyes

Music Stores from the Past

Do you remember the old days when you could go to a music store to buy a CD? Or even a vinyl album, 45 or cassette? I remember those old days fondly. I love the immediacy of the experience with the Itunes store or Amazon MP3s. But that is a something one does on their own, versus the communal experience of driving to a specific location and browsing the aisles with a bunch of other music fans. Here are a few of the stores I miss having around:Tower Records

Tower Records
One of the best and biggest stores — they carried it all, every genre you could think of, including classical. I remember shopping there for albums, cassettes, 45s, cassette singles, 12-inch singles and later CDs. One of my favorite things was the wall where they had all the songs on the Hot 100, from 1-100. And you could buy the 45s for them all. They were also a ticket outlet for concert tickets, and I remember standing in line to buy tickets there a few times. When CDs were the norm, they had selected listening stations throughout the store, with CDs recommended by store employees or popular hits too.

Music Plus
This was my local record store. I remember buying albums, 45s, cassettes and cassette singles there. They were a Ticketmaster outlet, and I stood in line for tickets a number of times there. You had to get up very early, stand in line for several hours before the store opened up. They would often give out random wristbands, so that even if you were first, it didn’t matter, as the number on your wrist band determined your place in line. I waited for tickets to Madonna’s Blonde Ambition with my boyfriend Rasheed. There were easily a couple of hundred people in line. Luckily for us, they added several shows and we were able to get some decent seats for the show. I also stood in line all day in Hollywood to meet Billy Idol. I have an autographed vinyl album of “Rebel Yell” from him.

Sam Goody
This was one of the music stores you would often see in a mall. Their prices were not as good as Music Plus or Tower for me. But I do remember going to 2 different autograph signings over the years at different locations. I got to meet Stacey Q. in Montebello, and get my cassette autographed. Years later, I got to meet Enrique Iglesias at the Universal City location and get my CD signed. There was a Sam Goody close to where we lived in North Hollywood, that I used to go to every payday.

Another one of the mall music stores. I do remember buying the first album from Madonna at the Wherehouse. I was debating about Madonna and Shannon, and Madonna won out. Later on when CDs were in, they were one of the first to sell used CDs. I remember buying used CDs there, and also renting VHS videos there too. It was also close to where I met up with friends from the gay youth group in Hollywood. I remember browsing the music with my friends. There was also a cool service called “Personics” at that store. You could order a custom cassette for yourself. You pick the songs, put them in the order you wanted, and you gave a title to your own personal mix… it usually took a few minutes to make. I have a couple of these tapes… this was after 45’s and before songs were sold individually as MP3s.

FYE/Licorice Pizza
FYE — I remember only 1 store in a shopping center — nothing spectacular. Licorice Pizza was never in my area, but the name is familiar.

Virgin Megastore
This one gave Tower Records a run for their money. They were music and video super stores, often multi-level stores in prime locations. In LA, there was one in West Hollywood. They had a great selection of imports and rare items. There was even an in house DJ there. It was a fun place to just look around. I remember buying CDs there.

Borders Books and Music
Another big super-store, mostly books. But they usually had one level that was all music. Lots of listening stations with staff music recommendations. I learned of a few new artists this way.

So that’s my trip down memory lane. Now what few CDs I do buy, I get at Target, at used CD stores, or on Amazon — or I just download it from iTunes. What memories do you have from music stores?

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.


Comments on: "Music Stores from the Past" (3)

  1. said:

    Dan, What was the name of the record store that was at the corner of Sunset & Vine? They had listening booths and all the latest hits. They were a big deal.

  2. Marcelo Castilho Rogedo said:

    I remember, when I went to NYC. I went to a Virgin Megastore and bought around US$300 in Madonna’s singles, EPs. Here in Brazil the price used to be so high that it was not worth. Nowadays I still buy CDs. I dont download, although I respect people that do that. Once, something very funny happened here. I was at Savassi, a very famous area of my city that has a lot of stores, (clothing, shoppings centers…) and as I was not going there for a while, I asked a teenager…”Do you know where can I find a CD store here?”….He looked at me as I was from the Dark Ages and said “CD????”…..that was very funny.

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