The colorful founder of the Tower Records retail empire died Sunday night, reportedly while watching the Oscars and drinking whiskey. The Sacramento Bee reports that Russ Solomon suffered an apparent heart attack. He was 92.
The report quotes 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 to refill his whiskey.” When his wife returned, Solomon had reportedly died.
The Bee, which calls Tower Records “the most famous company in Sacramento history,” reports: “Russ Solomon was the founder and guiding force behind Tower Records, the chain that revolutionized music retailing until it was swamped by iPods, big-box stores and other dramatic changes in the industry. Tower went out of business in December 2006 after a second stint in bankruptcy.”
The report adds: “As if to defy the digital forces that reshaped the music business, Solomon opened another music store just a few months later, on the very site of one of Tower’s flagship stores in Sacramento. But the encore fell flat, and he gave up after three years.”
Solomon later was the focus of “All Things Must Pass,” a 2015 documentary on Tower’s history produced by actor Colin Hanks.
“A pioneer who was admired by employees and competitors alike, Solomon made Tower a $1 billion-a-year business stretching from Boston to Bogota,” the story reports. “He operated on a philosophy that was obvious to him but extraordinary for its day: Build big stores and pack them with as much music as possible.”