|Parent company||Capitol Records|
Sony Music Entertainment (Pink Floyd catalog in the USA)
|Country of origin||United States|
Tower Records was an American record label from 1964 to 1970. A subsidiary of Capitol Records, Tower often released music by artists who were relatively low profile in comparison to those released on the parent label, including a number of artists--such as The Standells and The Chocolate Watchband--later recognized as "garage bands". For this reason Tower is often associated with the garage rock phenomenon of the 1960s.
Named after Capitol's headquarters building, Tower was formed as a subsidiary to Capitol in 1964. In its early years, it released recordings by British invasion artists like Freddie and the Dreamers, (whose "I'm Telling You Now" became Tower's only #1 hit on Billboard) and Tom Jones (only 6 songs recorded in 1963, that were released by Tower on the strength of his hit "It's Not Unusual" two years later in 1965, much to the dismay of the singer, who was actually signed to London subsidiary, Parrot). It also gave Nilsson his first national releases. Tower's first single (#101) was "Car Party/Outta Gas" by The Sunrays, a California pop group produced and managed by Murry Wilson, father of Beach Boys Brian, Dennis and Carl.
Tower labels from 1964 to approximately 1968 had a solid brownish-orange color. This design was used for both singles and albums. Starting sometime around late 1968 or early 1969 the design was changed to a multicolored stripe label, and again, the stripe design was used for both singles and albums. The stripe label lasted until Tower ceased operations sometime around 1970. Tower releases have numerous many small variations of label type for stereo and mono releases and re-pressings. Minor label variations also sometimes make it possible to determine which of the three Capitol Records factories manufactured each copy.
In 1965, Tower made a bit of a risky move by releasing "You Turn Me On" by Ian Whitcomb, a song that was considered racy by some. It became Whitcomb's biggest hit (and Tower's only other Top 10 record, peaking at #8 on Billboard). Other Tower hits that year included "I Live For The Sun" by The Sunrays and "Dirty Water", by The Standells.
In 1966, the label gained what could be called a "future cult" status, becoming one of the premiere purveyors of what would later be called garage rock. While not releasing recordings from this genre exclusively, it seemed their greatest chart successes came from garage bands, such as "Blues' Theme" from The Wild Angels by Davie Allan & the Arrows.
Tower released the first recordings by Pink Floyd in the U.S. in 1967 without success after acquiring the rights from EMI's UK Columbia label (a different company than Columbia Records in the U.S. and Canada). Tower released three Pink Floyd albums. The five Pink Floyd singles on Tower have become the most valuable (fetching three figures in mint condition) and sought-after of the label's recordings. Tower released the single "See Emily Play" (Tower 356) three times between July 1967 and late 1968, but each time it failed to reach the top 40. Two other Pink Floyd singles, "Flaming" (Tower 378) and "Let There Be More Light" (Tower 440) are especially rare and were not released at all in the U.K. After the Tower label was dissolved the Pink Floyd albums were re-issued on another Capitol/EMI subsidiary, Harvest Records and later Capitol Records.
Several singles by The Chocolate Watch Band were released also in 1967. Today these are very collectible. Mississippi "sunshine pop" group Eternity's Children (who evolved into Starbuck in the 70's) placed Tower back on the charts with "Mrs. Bluebird" in the summer of 1968.
A&R man Mike Curb joined the label in 1968. Curb had a hand in releasing several soundtracks on the Tower label, most notably, Wild in the Streets, featuring Tower's last major hit: Max Frost and the Troopers' "The Shape of Things To Come".
Capitol shut down Tower Records in 1970. In 1992, the original label was used as part of EMI's "Legends Of Rock And Roll" series of CDs for their Best Of Freddie And The Dreamers compilation. With the sale of most of EMI's recorded music operations to Universal Music Group in 2012, UMG now owns and handles the Tower Records catalog through Capitol, with the exception of the Pink Floyd catalogue, which is owned by the band and currently licensed in the UK and Europe by Warner Music Group's Parlophone unit and in the US and the rest of the world by Sony Music Entertainment. Other Tower releases by British Invasion acts such as Freddie and the Dreamers, which Tower/Capitol acquired from EMI, are property of Parlophone today.