Music documentaries are all the rage these days.  Many are compelling based on their subject matter alone. And so too is "All Things Must Pass," which tells the story about the rise and fall of the iconic Tower Records. Fresno's Maya Cinemas, 3090 E. Campus Pointe Drive, is having a limited number of showings this week for the documentary.

The fact that the film talks with founder Russ Solomon and executives that include Heidi Cotler and Mark Viducich gives it instant credibility. Started as a side business out of a Tower Theater building in Sacramento, Tower Records grew as a juggernaut in the music business. Solomon and company walk filmgoers through those early days up to its demise in 2006.

Music history buffs will eat up tidbits from high-powered execs from David Geffen and Jim Urie, from Universal Music Group. Plus, there are also interviews with legendary musicians Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Dave Grohl. What would a music documentary be without Grohl who has appeared in "Filmage" — about punk icons The Descendents — as well as "Cobain" Montage of Heck" and "Sound City." 

Here are some of the more poignant stories:

  • Sir Elton says he'd probably spent more money at Tower Records than anyone.
  • Grohl talks about working at Tower Records in Washington, D.C., and about some of the elaborate displays promoting new albums.
  • Springsteen says one of the first things musicians did while on tour was to visit a Tower Records.
  • Geffen said L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard store was the place to be for musicians.
  • Solomon describes how Geffen drove him to his house to listen to an early recording of The Eagles' debut album.
  • Viducich explains how Tower Records was the first U.S.-based business to enter Japan's music market. It later became the company's biggest cash cow.

The narrative can be a bit jumbled and chaotic at times, but what saves "All Things Must Pass' is the personality of Solomon, Cotler and Viducich. Their insider stories range from funny and insightful to heartbreaking as the end closes in.

Answers about how a business that made $1 billion at one point faded aren't definitive. But that's to be expected because there isn't a single reason for Tower Records demise. It's a bit more complicated than just the Internet changed music.

Like many music aficionados, I shed a tear when Tower Records was no more. There's something irreplaceable about buying music from people who love it as much as you do, or maybe more than you. And that is the message that director Colin Hanks hammers home throughout "All Things Must Pass."

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or pmenting@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @HanfordPete.

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