Remembering Tower Records' iconic founder Russ Solomon

In a time when music couldn't be streamed or downloaded, Tower Records stood above its competition. With late-night hours, knowledgeable employees and huge inventories, it was a go-to place for serious music fans.

The chain was founded in 1941 by Russ Solomon who started selling used jukebox records out of his father's Sacramento drug store. Solomon, who died this week at the age of 92, is being remembered as a visionary and a natural leader.

"He had really great ideas and he could put it together. And he could also encourage other people to follow him. That's why he had the reputation, especially in the early years of his business of being a pied piper. The people just loved him," said Russ' son, Michael Solomon.

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Tower Records founder Russ Solomon is shown at the companies corporate headquarters in West Sacramento, Calif., in this undated file photo.

RICH PEDRONCELLI / AP

Tower expanded from Sacramento to San Francisco in 1968 and at its peak maintained more than 270 stores. Each location was different, with Solomon giving individual store managers control of what records to stock, and encouraging his music-loving employees to be themselves.

"I got a job at Tower Records 'cause that's the only place I could get a job with my f***ing haircut. That is the truth," said Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. 

Tower's success put Solomon on Forbes' list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. But the advancement of digital music downloads and a heavy corporate debt load led to the end of the record chain.

After selling a billion dollars' worth of records in the 1990s, Tower declared bankruptcy in 2004 and finally closed the doors of all of its American stores in 2006.

But, 12 years on, Tower Records is still flourishing in Japan with several stores including a nine-story flagship store in Tokyo.