capitol records
Hollywood Attractions

The Iconic Capitol Records Building

Just north of the corner of Hollywood and Vine is the iconic Capitol Records Building aka the Capitol Records Tower.  The building is a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Landmark. It is one of the things you will want to see when visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but you won’t be allowed access to the interior.

Historic Capitol Records Building
The Capitol Records building, a Los Angeles Landmark

It’s been said the resemblance to a stack of records on a turntable is a coincidence, but I find that quite difficult to believe.  From the circular awnings to the spindle like spire on top, it is just too similar to a stack of old vinyl records on a turntable. It was designed by Louis Naidorf. Construction was completed in April 1956 and Capitol Records became the first record label with a base on the west coast. It is 13 stories tall.

The first album recorded in the tower was Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color.  The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Sir Paul McCartney, and many more music legends recorded some of the most treasured music in history in the tower.

The stars of some of the most significant musicians in history are located in front of the Capitol Records Building and perhaps this is why Vine Street is the only cross street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where the stars extend beyond Hollywood Blvd itself.  John Lennon was awarded a posthumous star on Sep. 30, 1988. George Harrison was posthumously honored with a star on April 14, 2009. Ringo Starr received his star on Feb. 10, 2010, the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Sir Paul McCartney was the final Beatle to receive his star, which was unveiled in front of the Capitol Records Building on Feb. 9, 2012.

capitol records
Capitol Records Building seen from the famous corner of Hollywood & Vine

A stunning mural entitled Hollywood Jazz: 1945 – 1972 is located on the south wall of the building. It was created by artist Richard Wyatt and depicts legendary jazz musicians, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The names of dozens more jazz legends are etched on a stone background, including John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, and Charles Mingus.

The historic building has appeared in a number of disaster type films which hopefully are not prophetic.  Among them is the movie Earthquake with Charlton Heston where an earthquake destroys the building.  In a television series Life After People, the building collapses. A tornado, which to my experience don’t happen in Los Angeles, destroys it in still another movie.

Other interesting facts about the building:  The blinking red light on top of the building spells out Hollywood in morse code and each year at Christmas time a Christmas tree of lights cascades down from the spire.

Be sure to include the Capitol Records Building on your list of things to see when traveling to Los Angeles.

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