Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, died on Sunday night (March 5th) at the age of 92 of an apparent heart attack. According to his hometown paper, The Sacramento Bee, Solomon passed during the Oscars telecast, with his son, Michael Solomon, saying, “Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked (his wife) Patti to refill his whisky.” When his wife returned she found Solomon had died. Solomon and the story of Tower were chronicled in Colin Hanks‘ 2015 indie-doc classic, All Things Must Pass: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records.
Russ Solomon got his start in the music retail business in 1939, when he sold used 78 rpm records in his father’s Sacramento drug store. Tower Records was named after the Tower Theater, which was next door to that drug store. Solomon expanded Tower to San Francisco in 1967, then over the years opened more stores around the U.S., as well as in the U.K., Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Israel, Mexico, Colombia and many more.
- Arguably the most famous Tower Records outlet was the one located on the north side of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. In addition to CD’s and cassettes, stores also sold DVDs, video games, accessories, toys, electronics and books.
- Debt from its expansion, competition from big box stores and Internet piracy eventually led to Tower filing for bankruptcy in 2004 and again in 2006, with the chain closing for good that year.
- Dave Grohl himself told us a while back that he once worked at the legendary and now-defunct record chain: “I worked at Tower Records when I was 18, 19, something like that, in Washington D.C. It was pretty fun. I always looked at Tower as the place you could get a job if you had a really funky haircut. Maybe you could get a job at the construction warehouse, but you’d kind of rather be surrounded by music.”