Russ Solomon, the founder of Tower Records, passed away on Sunday, March 4, while watching the 2018 Oscars at his home in Sacramento, California.
The music mogul had died of an apparent heart attack. His son and business partner Michael Solomon confirmed the news to the press on Monday, March 5.
"Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing what he thought was ugly," the Michael told the Sacramento Bee. "When she returned, he had died."
He was 92 years old.
Life and Career
Solomon founded Tower Records back in 1960 in his hometown of Sacramento. Long before the iPod and then Spotify changed the musical landscape, Tower Records revolutionized music retailing.
During its peak, Tower Records touted itself as "the largest record store in the known world" with stores across the United States, Central and South American, Europe, and Asia. It also expanded its business from a comprehensive music library to an equally impressive collection of books and videos.
However, eventually, it became obsolete and, after its second bankruptcy, went out of business in December 2006.
Solomon and Tower Records became the subject of a documentary titled "All Things Must Pass." From actor and filmmaker Colin Hanks (Drunk History, Life in Pieces), the documentary recounted the rise and fall of the worldwide music store empire through interviews from former staff and former celebrity customers such as Chris Cornell, Sir Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen.
Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl was once a Tower Records employee.
The businessman will forever be fondly remembered for his passion for music. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame (alongside the likes of Harrison Ford and Maria Shriver) in 2016.
Tribute To A Music Legend
Hanks was among the music fans and artists who paid tribute to Solomon following the news of his death. He said, in a social media post, that the entrepreneur changed his life.
"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," he wrote on Instagram. "His wit and curiosity was unparalleled. He was, quite simply, one of coolest people I've ever met. It was an honor to help tell his story and a privilege to call him a friend. Sending my love to Patti, Michael, and all of the Tower Records family."
Musicians Lisa Loeb, Deftones, and LL Cool J were among those who sent their condolences to the family of the late music legend.
RIP Russ Solomon. Tower Records was such a huge part of my growing up. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/OnyoD2aqnW — Lisa Loeb (@LisaLoeb) March 5, 2018
Russ Solomon R.I.P. Tower Records was the spot!!! Thank you Russ for giving us ALL a home.....a place to explore in and to be turned on in. Ha....lets not forget book covers for school each year!!! Our thoughts go out to Patti and their family. DEFTONES/TOWER RECORDS....SACTO!!! pic.twitter.com/wzLbJ9KVJs — Deftones (@deftones) March 6, 2018
Rest in power #RussSolomon Thank you!!!! — LLCOOLJ. (@llcoolj) March 6, 2018
Sad news of #CAHallofFame inductee& founder of Tower Records Russ Solomon, who passed away at age 92 yesterday. Inducted in the 10th class in 2016, he was a music industry pioneer who revolutionized the way people bought, listened to & experienced music. He will be missed many. pic.twitter.com/qvwYcysnoK — The CA Museum (@TheCAMuseum) March 6, 2018
Rest In Peace to not only a Sacramento icon but a worldwide innovator, Russ Solomon. Tower Records said it best: No Music No Life. — Johnny Taylor, Jr. (@hipsterocracy) March 5, 2018
rest in peace Russ Solomon, from a guy who's last job before becoming a professional musician was at tower records. in its heyday it was, for music fans and more, home to a lot of us. thank you. — el-p (@therealelp) March 5, 2018
As a kid, I read @eltonofficial saying to @RollingStone there was a record store in California called #TowerRecord so big, he used a shopping cart. Thank you #RussSolomon for building your musical field of dreams that became so many of ours too. #RIPRussSolomon pic.twitter.com/0xUWNvIiNU — David Wild (@Wildaboutmusic) March 5, 2018
Our condolences to the family and friends of Tower Records founder Russ Solomon, a #CAHallofFame inductee who truly exemplified the California spirit. pic.twitter.com/IT8toCSteJ — Gov. Brown Press Office (@GovPressOffice) March 5, 2018
Solomon is survived by his wife Patti Drosins and his sons Michael and Davis.