Video: "Worst Customers" clip from "Rhino Resurrected."
The Rhino Records store in Los Angeles already has its place in the history books, but a new documentary -- which received its world premiere Saturday with numerous former employees and label executives on hand -- further cements its identity as an inventive rule-breaking retailer.
Keith Shapiro's "Rhino Resurrected" covers the life of West Los Angeles' Rhino Records from its inception in the early 1970s until the doors were finally closed in 2005 as well as the reissue label it spawned. Founder Richard Foos is interviewed at length as are the two key employees of the store and label, Harold Bronson and Gary Stewart. Footage of instore performances from Nirvana and Steve Wynn are featured as are performances from the Rhino Pop-up store that was opened for two weeks in 2010 (Richard Thompson, Syd Straw, Peter Case, Little Willie G, the Urinals).
Shapiro, a Pittsburgh native drawn to the Rhino label for its collections of novelty songs featured on Dr. Demento's radio program, started the film while the pop-up store was coming together under the tutelage of former Rhino employee Sam Epstein, who produced and shot parts of the film.
"Rhino Resurrected" was screened Saturday afternoon at West Hollywood's Silent Movie Theater as part of the seventh Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival organized by director Alison Anders and her daughter Tiffany. Michael Des Barres emceed the show as he has in the past and grilled Stewart, now a curator for iTunes, about the nostalgia for record stores, which certainly was a driving force for the theater being sold out.
Stewart, seated in the audience, said he saw no reason be nostalgic, noting that the film should inspire others to recapture the spirit of the store. "We want someone to rip us off," Stewart said, explaining that the thirst for Rhino's heyday had little to do with selling records. "It was about the attitude."
Among the former Rhino employees featured in the film on hand to concur with Stewart were former Warner Music executive Jeff Gold, music supervisor Gary Calamar and Arcana Books owner Lee Kaplan plus musicians Little Willie G and Billy Vera, whose song "At This Moment" was Rhino's only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.