For Colony Music Store in NYC, the Song Has Ended; Memories Linger On

By Kenneth Jones
27 Sep 2012

The neon "cheerleader" signage.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Turk, who owned Colony with partners Alan Grossbardt and Michael Grossbardt, is in discussions about how Colony might reinvent itself solely as an internet operation, possibly representing publishers of sheet music (the store's bread and butter over the years) but nothing is clear or for sure at the moment, he said. (The business was founded by the fathers of Turk and the Grossbardt brothers in 1948, at the northwest corner of 52nd Street and Broadway, in the shadow of the Colony Theatre, now the Broadway Theatre. It moved to 49th Street and Broadway in 1971.)

The current location's iconic Colony neon signage (two signs, over each entrance door) will be taken down and preserved. Turk said he's gotten a number of calls about the signs, including from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The larger original signs crumbled over time and were replaced, though the neon "cheerleader" who (according to the store's ad tagline) "found it at Colony" remained in a store window display for years. The owners still have her.

What fans of music lose most, Turk said, is access to a knowledgeable staff who could direct jazz and classical players to the right sheet music, or Broadway chorus kids to the right audition song. Turk wondered aloud, "Where will they go to ask for a recommendation…?"

Lindsay Mendez, the jazz and pop singer and stage actress of Broadway's Godspell and Everyday Rapture and Off-Broadway's Dogfight, echoed the feelings of many other artists when she was asked by to reflect on the Colony experience: "Colony was one of the first places I visited when I moved to New York and was 18 years old," she said. "I would sit and browse music for hours and just loved spending time in there. But my favorite memory was walking into Colony with my friend Ryan Scott Oliver, and seeing his first vocal selection book on the shelves. The staff was so kind and excited to have it there, and it was just so thrilling to know that his music was a part of that place…a part of New York theatre history."

Read's earlier story about Colony's closing, which features comments from Broadway's Andrew Lippa and David Zippel

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)