Colony Records, Broadway Music Landmark, to Close

Audio: Co-Owner Richard Turk on Closing after 64 Years

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 10:45 AM

Colony Records, at 49th & Broadway Colony Records, at 49th & Broadway (Flickr/stephenvance)

Colony Records, the famed sheet music and memorabilia store on Broadway at 49th Street in Manhattan, will close its doors after 64 years, the store has confirmed.

Richard Turk, a co-owner of the store, cited the expenses of doing business in Times Square, and the Internet's impact on his industry as reasons for closing. "In the book business, the video business, and the music business, the downloadable aspect is the determining factor of those stores closing," he said. "We've done everything we can to hold the fort for as long as we can and the time has come."

Turk said the store's last day will come sometime in the next six weeks. 

Colony is home to one of the largest sheet music collections in the country. Musicians and concertgoers know it as a place to find everything from a “Mary Poppins” score to a Sondheim karaoke recording to a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” alarm clock. Hundreds of pop stars have passed through its doors, including Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Harold “Nappy” Grossbardt and his partner, Sidney Turk, founded Colony Music Center on 52nd Street and Broadway in 1948. It became a fixture of Tin Pan Alley, New York's music publishing industry, and a drop-in spot for songwriters and music industry people. Specializing in vinyl and sheet music, it was known to carry a lot of the odd and unusual material smaller stores couldn't stock.

Colony underwent a number of expansions, moving in 1971 to its present location in the Brill Building. Famously open until 2 am, it was a haunt for night owls who prowled the area’s jazz clubs and discotheques. Filmmakers including Nora Ephron and Woody Allen sought the store’s help in finding music for their scripts.

As Times Square gentrified in the 1990s, Colony retained its trademark neon sign, although it was removed at the request of the landlord a few years ago.

Grossbardt died in 2001, but the store remained a family-owned enterprise. The founders’ sons, Alan and Michael Grossbardt and Turk, have been co-managers in recent times. Turk said that while the landlord is not "pushing the store out" in any way, renovations are planned to the exterior. "That probably just makes doing business a little more difficult so we're going to probably just pack it in a little earlier than later."

He added, "we hate to do it but we put 64 great years into it."

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Comments [22]

Stig from Denmark

This is indeed very sad. I was in NYC last week and one of the highlights were always to shop music in Colony.... And I could always find something

Blame it on all the Chinese and down loads, but it is very sad that a store like Colony can't exist in a city like New York

Regards from Denmark

Dec. 07 2012 03:00 PM
Arezer II from Westchester County

I am so disappointed, I was just planning to go down to the city just to go to the Colony. It will truly be missed, I prefer to touch the music than to download and print. It's a different feeling standing in the store and looking through the music. You always see something-else that you didn't come in the store for but leave with. I know we have to change with the times, and as a business woman and musician I also can understand if there are no profits, then it's time to back off. Anyway the store will definitely be missed. But it leaves a memory that will never be forgotten.

Best regards,
Arezer II

Sep. 16 2012 06:49 PM
Bob Dignam

Having worked for Colony Records in the late 70's - early 80's this is a sad day for all involved. Many of my closest friends came from that store. The amount of knowledge my co-workers had was amazing, and everyone knew their specialty. It brings back many wonderful memories, especially of Bill McMullen, whose classical expertise was (is) unequaled. Bert, James, Rita, Chudnoff we were a family. And Ronald Coles at that 45 counter.....What a family it was. Best to Richard Turk, in his future endeavors. Park Slope wants Colony.....Think about it!!! BOB DIGNAM

Aug. 29 2012 02:20 PM
tony lamberti


Aug. 28 2012 07:53 AM
Ida from Miami beach

Tito and I use to go early morning hours when Nappy was there.....years later a friend of mine was his Nurse here in Miami and I was able to speak with him before he passed what a wonderful Man..I am so sad to hear of the closing..

Aug. 27 2012 11:01 PM
Addison Brown

The Lights of Broadway will be alittle dimmer with the closing of Colony Records.I'm a better vocalist and musician because of Colony.Your doors maybe closing,but you will always be open in my heart.

Aug. 27 2012 01:44 AM
Theresa from New Jersey

We come to NYC specifically to visit Colony. It has the best music and the best people, this is very sad. We especially like the large selection of sheet music, we never leave empty handed. Where we we go for sheet music now?

Aug. 25 2012 11:29 AM
Helene Spierman from Valley Stream, NY

Others have said it -- hidden treasures, amazing range of stuff. Knowledgable sales people (or were they the owners?). Racks and racks of music of all kinds to look through until something pops out at you and you buy it. Hmm... Patelson's is gone; I used to do that there, too. Last Spring, I wanted to update my Broadway repertoire. I went to Colony and, since I knew that the guys there knew all the music they had, I asked if there was anything new on Broadway that was melodic. The salesman rolled his eyes with a grimace and told me "No." They were fabulous. Are there plans to open elsewhere? I hope so!

Aug. 24 2012 11:23 PM
Betty Lynd from Manhattan

Oh! the countless times I bought sheet music at Colony for auditions! They had everything my voice teacher, Sue Seton, and coaches David Lewis,Nat Jones Sr., and Peter Howard suggested. So sad this icon is closing! A major page in music history has turned.

Aug. 24 2012 10:40 PM

Never mind Park Slope - Open up in new/old Ditmas Park. Cortelyou Road will love you.

Aug. 24 2012 06:02 PM
Tony Barnes from Jersey City, NJ

As a piano teacher this is where I always buy music for my students. I even plan trips to this store with them to teach them what to look for in purchasing music. I don't know any store like this one. I will truly miss it. Very sad.

Aug. 24 2012 04:40 PM
David Shaw

When I was around 10 I went in and hummed what I had heard, and was mystified by, of the Waltz from the Masquerade, the guy knew it immediately, lead me to a record of ballet hits, it was a huge turning point in my life, have been going there ever since whenever I'm in the city, too bad, it's the digital age and we're paying a price for that. Our kids don't know what high fidelity sound is, a piece of music, ANY piece of music, is so instantly available that it's rarely a treat, and now Colony is leaving us . . . as I used to say, bummer . . .

Aug. 24 2012 03:38 PM
Jim from NYC

This is very sad but not unexpected. Look at Times Square now--it's all the same dreary chain stores and restaurants you see all over the country.
Sadly, that seems to be what tourists want. As a Manhattan resident for almost 35 years, and a Long Island-raised music lover, going to stores like the Colony was like entering "Music Oz". Going through those dusty record bins looking for hidden treasures, buying sheet music and 45's, seeing the same salesmen year after year (and they knew their music!)--it seems like another world now. Everything is digital, and what's not is hard to find and not that profitable. The Colony has also mutated over the years and now seems more like a very-pricey (but still cool) palace of memorabilia and VERY overpriced cds. Still, I will miss that place!

Aug. 24 2012 11:21 AM
Louis from New York

Another sad moment for New York, I grew up in New York City going to this store. In fact, just recently (Last year), I found a music book that I have been searching for some time, Kevin Eubanks, Creative guitarist, and as always, Colony came through. I really am going to miss you!!!!


Aug. 24 2012 10:39 AM
Mat Dirjish from New York, NY

Sadly, another wonderful piece of New York and world culture erodes away.

Aug. 24 2012 10:16 AM
Tomas from New York City

Another NY institution bites the dust. First the bookstores and now this. The irony is that I am responding to this article on my I Pad! Anyway you slice it, Colony's closing is affair Thank you for 64 years!

Aug. 24 2012 06:54 AM
Kathleen V from NYC

Heartbreaking! How can it be?! What will Broadway and 49th be without the little neon cheerleader jumping for joy exclaiming, "I found it!" And you could always find it at the Colony. The best, friendliest and most knowledgeable staff; stunning array of selections; perfect location. The last and best of what the neighborhood used to be about.

Aug. 23 2012 11:05 PM
Shandy from Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC

Sad news indeed. I worked for Time Square Records from 1962-64 and was very familiar with Colony and also Arcade. Both gone, now this. Thanks for the memories and good luck as you start a new journey. Shandy from Times

Aug. 23 2012 09:47 PM
Hans Von Rittern from New York

Patti Lupone said it best: "Times Square has become a thrid rate shopping mall!"

Aug. 23 2012 07:13 PM
S. L. Greene from Upper West Side

I once ran into Celia Cruz at Colony. I was shocked at how short she was. They always look larger on stage & screen.

Aug. 23 2012 06:14 PM
ChrisC from Park Slope

Brooklyn extends a warm welcome to Colony whenever it is ready to open up a new store here!

Aug. 23 2012 05:49 PM

Some of the first LP I bought in NY...

Aug. 23 2012 03:51 PM

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