Russ Solomon(1925 - 2018)

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon has died at age 92, according to The Sacramento Bee.

His son Michael told the Bee that Solomon died from a heart attack while he was watching the Academy Awards. "Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked (his wife) Patti to to refill his whisky," Solomon said. When she returned, he had died.”

Tower Records was a force in the music industry for many years until the digital music revolution. The company went out of business in 2006 following two bankruptcy filings.

Solomon began selling records as a teenager in his father’s drug store in Sacramento’s Tower Theater building. He called it the Tower Record Mart. He opened his first stand-alone record store in 1960. He built that store into a major national chain.

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The free spirited Solomon was said to be greatly admired by his employees. His strategy was to go big and stock his stores with as many record choices as possible. Tower Records became a billion dollar business. The downfall of the company came as a result of the digital delivery system for music and over expansion.

Solomon told The Sacramento Bee how he began to expand his business outside of Sacramento. In 1968, he was hungover and eating in a diner in San Francisco. He noticed a vacant run-down building in the Fisherman’s Wharf. He opened the store right at the start of the exploding music scene in San Francisco.

In 1970, he opened his most famous spot, the Tower Records on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The store became the place to go for rock stars and other Hollywood personalities. Elton John was a regular at the store.

Solomon’s story was featured in the 2015 documentary film “All Things Must Pass.” The movie was produced by actor Colin Hanks.