[Dixielandjazz] Fwd: Russ Solomon interviewed - Tower Records Founder

Marek Boym marekboym at gmail.com
Mon Aug 5 07:28:02 PDT 2013

In 1980 I vistied the US.  And, of course, I was looking for records.  In
either San Francisco or Los Angeles (perhaps both) people told me: you need
to go to Tower Rcords.  In those days, as far as I knew, Tower operated
only in California.  I had some experience with large record stores (the
London HMV, for example, the Oxford St. branch).  So, when my wife drove me
to what appeared like a huge barn in the middle of the city, we made an
appointment for an hour from then.  Little did I know!  I remember making
it to somewhere in mid-alphabet before she came to pick me up.  I must have
gone again - otherwise, how did I get to Lu Watters?!  I bleieve that the
store's policy then was to keep "every record in print."  I could have
easily spent all the money I had for my trip there, the selection was so
Later, of course, Tower spread worldwide, with lots of branches here in
Israel, too, even in my (little) home town Raanana!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Robert Ringwald <rsr at ringwald.com>
Date: 5 August 2013 04:34
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Russ Solomon interviewed - Tower Records Founder
To: Marek Boym <marekboym at gmail.com>
Cc: Dixieland Jazz Mailing List <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>

Tower Records Founder, 87, Keeps the Musical Spirit Alive
by Sam Whiting
San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 2013
At age 87, Russ Solomon is still willing to board a train in his hometown
of Sacramento
and ride down to see a display of blown-up images of Tower Records, the
music store
chain he founded -- and folded 46 years later.
The pictures, inside Hot Italian at Public Market Emeryville through
August, are
a teaser for the Tower Records Project --
-- an archive with aspirations to be a traveling museum exhibit.
As front man for the project, Solomon is eager to offer the opportunity to
the hand that shook the hand of Glenn Miller, and showed Dave Clark how to
hold a
tow rope. History like that will always find an audience, and apart from
the Tower
Records Project, a documentary film has been in the works for five years
Q: Where did Tower start?
A: It started in my dad's drugstore, Tower Cut-Rate Drugs, in Sacramento,
in 1941.
It was named after the Tower Theatre, which is still there. We started
selling records
in the drugstore in 1941.
Q: How big did Tower Records get?
A: We did about $1 billion a year and had about 170 stores worldwide.
Q: How small did it get?
A: It ended with bankruptcy. All the stores closed at once.
Q: Describe the Tower Records Project.
A: It's an interesting accident. I had all kinds of stuff, and the Center
for Sacramento
History asked me to donate my big neon sign to them. After that, they said,
part of Sacramento history and we would like to have anything else you've
got." I'm
just glad it didn't all get thrown away.
Q: What else is in the collection?
A: I used to take people's ties. I'd explain, "You're in the music
business; you're
not comfortable with the tie on. I'm going to make you feel better." So I'd
the ties right off their neck. I have Bill Graham's tie and Richard
Branson's tie.
I donated the ties to the archive, maybe 400 of them.
Q: What do you think about the North Beach store becoming a Walgreens?
A: It started in a drugstore and the damned thing ends up in a drugstore.
something poetic about that.
Q: Who is making the documentary?
A: Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart are the partners in it. They're a couple of
boys that are in the movie business, because of Colin's dad (Tom Hanks).
Q: Record stores have died everywhere. Why the continued interest in Tower?
A: Damned if I know. I think during that period of time, from 1960 to 2006,
we became
a part of an awful lot of people's lives. If you were into music, and most
were, Tower was the place to go because we had the biggest selection, and
we were
part of the scene.
Q: Any other projects?
A: Not really, just keeping alive.
Q: Were you a musician?
A: The only thing I could play was a phonograph and I was really good at
Q: Regrets?
A: I should have gone public in the '90s. I was talked out of it by my
guy and it was a terrible mistake. If we'd gone public, we would have had
time to
change and evolve into something better.
Q: Of all the musicians you've met, who was your favorite?
A: I got a chance to meet Count Basie and Benny Goodman. Today nobody would
about that, but those are the big thrills in my life.
Q: If you hadn't started a record store, what would you have done?
A: I don't know. Everything was an accident.
Q: What would you call your autobiography?
A: "Everything Was an Accident."
Q: Who plays you in the movie?
A: Somebody who is a little bit nuts and funny.

-Bob Ringwald
Amateur (ham) Radio Operator K6YBV
916/ 806-9551

"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an
infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even
considering if there is a man on base." --Dave Barry

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