video title: Russ Solomon - founder of Tower Records
video link:
video source: MMMLifestyle
uploaded on YouTube Oct. 26, 2011

more info:
duration: 13:10 minutes

Tower Founder Russ Solomon Shares Company History "video of the day" review by Alex Cosper on Dec. 29, 2011

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon shares his history developing the record store chain that started in Sacramento in 1960 then grew to become an American icon that lasted nearly 50 years. This promotion-only interview was chosen as "video of the day" for its rich local historical content. The 2004 footage is part of MMMLIfestyle's documentary Music Moves Me about how musical energy can heal and inspire people. Russ traces the history of the company and examines music's effects on society.

Russ says his mentor was his father, who owned the Tower drug store that he grew up working for. The small drug store had a soda fountain with a jukebox. Tower made a deal with the jukebox operator to buy records for 3 cents and sell them for 10 cents. After awhile they started selling hundreds of records at 35-50 cents. Tower started out selling 45 rpm singles one song at a time until the excitement of the Beach Boys inspired kids to start buying albums.

Tower Records was born in the surf era as the Beach Boys developed a huge national following that started on the West Coast. Surf music was a hot trend that propelled Tower's success prior to the Beatles, who further escalated the frenzy for buying records. Russ says at that time he could put a Beach Boys album on sale and sell a thousand copies at two stores in a weekend. He points out the original album cover of The Beach Boys Concert is a photo of a Sacramento crowd here in town at the Memorial Auditorium and the show was put on by Tower.

The 6,000 square foot San Francisco store opened in 1968 in the midst of a musical movement that attracted young explorers to the Bay, a major epicenter of the emerging new music. LPs were only $2-4 at the time, which allowed people to affordably feed their musical tastes. A few years later he opened a store in Los Angeles, which was also an instant success. The success continued through the 2000s when digital technology changed the course of music purchasing.

His love for a wide variety of music spans from opera to rock. He says great artists are the ones who have a lot of insight. "They seem to have in their minds what people really want," he observes. "It is the profound message of a song that connects." He says the lyrics are what connect the artist with listeners. He relates artists to being leaders of ideas that people want to hear and that artists can help clarify ideas in people's minds, which makes people's lives better.

Although Tower eventually went bankrupt, its legend lives on and the man who put it together remains an important figure who built an empire from scratch that made many people happy and has generated many great memories. That important legacy can never be erased and will always be an important chapter in not just Sacramento history, but American music history as well.

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