SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — He was a music industry icon and the creator of one of the largest record stores in the world. Russ Solomon founded Tower Records in Sacramento in the 1960s which grew into an empire of music stores across the globe.
According to family, Solomon passed away in his home Sunday night at the age of 92.
“In this town, no one’s gonna forget Russ Solomon and Tower Records,” said Sacramento businessman Scot Crocker.
Solomon was a music lover, an art collector, even an artist with his photography. He leaves behind his wife Patti, two sons, and thousands of people who have been left inspired by him.
“I miss my father already,” said Michael Solomon.
Michael says his father died while watching the Acamedy Awards at home in his living room with his wife.
“He had asked her to pour him a glass of whiskey, and when she came back he was slumped on the couch, apparent heart attack,” he said.
In the 1940s as a teenager, Solomon began by selling records out of his father’s drug store.
Twenty years later, he opened Tower North on Watt Avenue, his first stand-alone store.
In 1968, a second location opened that is now a Dimple Records.
In time Solomon went on to establish a record retail empire with 200 stores, in 30 countries, on five continents.
“I absolutely am proud of my father; he’s a great. and he deserves the legacy he seems to have,” said Michael.
The history of Tower Records was recounted in Colin Hanks’ 2015 documentary: “All Things Must Pass.” Hanks, who is Tom Hanks’ son, was born in Sacramento. He said the documentary examined the iconic company’s explosive growth and tragic economic demise.
Monday night Colin Hanks tweeted: “The world lost an absolute legend last night. Russ Solomon changed my life; he changed the way I look at the world and how to navigate it.”
Solomon’s success did inspire many business leaders in Sacramento.
“Everyone who had a business in Sac wanted to be Russ Solomon. I can’t tell you how many people started at Tower and then went on to start their own businesses,” said Crocker.
Tim Jordan worked for Tower Records as a teenager and went on to open up his own business, Old Soul Coffee Shop.
“I was in the Tower Records warehouse on Elvis Avenue, and Russ didn’t know me then, he was busy building an empire. But he was one of the influences, one of the things that gave me confidence that Sacramento is cool. If Russ Solomon thinks Sac is cool, then Sac is cool,” he said.
In 2016 Solomon was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.
Last year, he was inducted into the Walk of Stars in Sacramento. Monday night that star was lit up with candles and flowers.
Even electronic billboards are up paying tribute.
“Yes it’s a sad day, yes we lost a legend in Sacramento, but there’s a lot of joy, he touched so many people,” said Wide Open Walls founder David Sobon
The iconic company’s explosive growth could not sustain the business. Tower records went out of business in 2006. But even with Solomon’s passing many say what will never fade are the people who built that music-selling machine
Charisma, modesty, and intellect are the traits Solomon’s son hopes that people will remember his father.
“I’m sure he’ll be remembered in the annals of history especially in respect to music, art and retail,” said Michael.