Tower Records on the Sunset Strip
Tower Records on the Sunset Strip

Tower Records was such a fixture on the Sunset Strip that for an entire generation of music fans it must have seemed like the store had always been there in its prime location midway along the Strip. In fact, Tower didn’t open in the building at 8801 Sunset, at corner of Horn Avenue, until 1970. And it didn’t start out as a beloved institution. Local residents were so alarmed by the news that Tower Records was coming to the Strip that they organized protests against its opening.

Thirty years before Tower arrived, that property was occupied by the Delores Restaurant, a popular drive-in that was part of a regional chain.

Left: The intersection of Holloway Drive (left) and Delores Drive-in on Sunset Boulevard; right: the Delores Drive-in

The Delores was gone by the early 1960s. A commercial building was constructed around that time. Its original purpose is unknown but it served as a local Republican Party headquarters at one point. It was also used as a showroom for the Shoreham Towers, luxury apartments under construction up the hill. (Humphrey Bogart’s former home at Horn and Shoreham Drive was demolished to make way for the new building.)

Later Muntz Stereo moved into the building. The Muntz chain and it’s owner, “Mad Man” Muntz, were also something of a local institution. It was at this store that dozens of local teens had eight-track tape players installed in their cars. After Muntz moved out, the building was demolished and replaced by the Tower Records company in 1970 with a similar but more substantial building to house its store.

Left: Muntz Stereo; right: Tower Records in the 1970s

The concern among the neighbors that year was that the arrival of Tower Records would attract more hippies to the Strip, an area that was already inundated by the counter-culture.

LA Times article about the protests

According to an LA Times article on protests at hearing: “Citing the ‘unbearable’ noise from hippies along West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, businessmen and apartment house owners and tenants have urged the County Zoning Board to bar construction of a phonograph record and book shop on the northwest corner of Sunset Blvd. and Horn St.

“‘This type of business would be an attractive nuisance to the hippie types who already annoy us to all hours with thier blaring car radios and trashy litter,’ John E. Sisson, attorney representing six protesters, told a board hearing.

“‘We ask the board to restrict such an operation to normal business hours ending at 6 or 7 p.m., thus giving landlords and tenants in the apartments north of the Strip the peace and quiet they are entitled to.”