The Capitol Records Building, also known as the Capitol Records Tower, is a Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District building that is located in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The building is a thirteen-story tower that was designed by Welton Becket and is one of the city’s landmarks. Construction occurred soon after British company EMI acquired Capitol Records in 1955, and was completed in April 1956. Located just north of the Hollywood and Vine intersection, the Capitol Records Tower houses the consolidation of Capitol Records’ West Coast operations and is also home to the recording studios and echo chambers of Capitol Studios. The building is included on the List of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles.
The building design was based upon the graduate school drawings of Lou Naidorf who, as the primary architect, designed the first circular office building at the age of 24 years. The wide curved awnings over windows on each story and the tall spike emerging from the top of the building only coincidentally resembles a stack of records on a turntable. The rectangular ground floor is a separate structure, joined to the tower after completion.
The tower incorporates 13 stories, to conform to the 150-foot (46 m) zoning height limit that was in place at the time of its construction. Height restrictions were later lifted in 1956. The 13th floor of the tower is the “Executive Level” and is represented by an “E” in the building’s two elevators.
The blinking light atop the tower spells out the word “Hollywood” in Morse code, and has done so since the building’s opening in 1956. This was an idea of Capitol’s then president, Alan Livingston, who wanted to subtly advertise Capitol’s status as the first record label with a base on the west coast. The switch was initially activated by Leila Morse, the granddaughter of Samuel Morse. In 1992 the light was changed to read “Capitol 50,” in honor of the label’s fiftieth anniversary—it has since returned to spelling “Hollywood”. A black-and-white graphic image of the building appeared on the albums of many Capitol recording artists, with the phrase, “From the Sound Capitol of the World”.
Recently, Capitol Records and artist Richard Wyatt Jr. joined forces to restore his iconic Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall of the Capitol Records building. Restored in hand-glazed ceramic tile, the mural spans 26 by 88 feet (7.9 by 26.8 m). Entitled “Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972”, this masterpiece presents “larger than life” images of: 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 mural also depicts names of prominent jazz legends etched upon a stone background, including names such as, John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Charles Mingus, Buddy Collette, Teddy Edwards, Art Tatum, Cannonball Adderley, McCoy Tyner and others.