Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, RIP

  • Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, RIP

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, RIP

The founder of Tower Records died Sunday while drinking whiskey and watching the Oscars, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Russ Solomon, the founder of Tower Records, died Sunday at age 92.

The makeshift record shop officially became Tower Records in 1960. When his wife returned, he had passed.

Creating a welcoming space for music lovers under the store's yellow-and-red signs, Tower Records helped build a subculture of record stores, especially after opening branches in the heart of the music industry on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard and on New York's East Village. The sole brick and mortar Tower Records thrives to this day in Tokyo, Japan.

"We lost a Sacramento and national icon", Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted. "Russ Solomon's contributions to our community will last another 92 years and more". "We mourn his loss and our thoughts are with his wife Patti and their family". Consumers began to shift to the internet to download music or to buy it from retailers such as Walmart, who offered lower prices in exchange for a less intimate customer experience than what Tower provided.

James Donio, president of the Music Business Association trade group, voiced sadness over his death and hailed his influence.

Eight years later, he expanded to San Francisco, then the epicentre of American rock music, with a 6,000 sq ft store that was reportedly the nation's largest. The Tower Records at the corner of Columbus and Bay streets opened in 1968 and became a landmark for all things cool for generations.

Yet, by the end of the decade, the way people were consuming music was once again changing.

"I'm sure he'll go down in history as having the greatest record store chain in the world", Michael Solomon said. The company went bust in 2006, thanks to the rise in digital music and film sales as well as Russell's own eagerness to expand across the globe.

Solomon's success did inspire many business leaders in Sacramento.

"New Orleans had a huge heritage music section; Nashville had a big country section", Colin Hanks, director of the Tower documentary "All Things Must Pass", told NPR in 2015.

Stretching more than twice the size of rival neighborhood music shops, Tower stores stocked albums that ranged far beyond Top 40s hits to include worldwide acts in rock, pop, classical and jazz.