LOS ANGELES – Tower Records long boasted of being “the largest record store in the known world,” a boast that few of the old retail chain’s regulars would have debated.
The slogan was characteristic of Tower’s colorfully eccentric, larger-than-life founder: Sacramento businessman Russ Solomon, long known and admired for his passion for music, a quality that often trumped his business acumen, and personal idiosyncrasies such as confiscating neckties of employees, salespeople or customers.
“What happened was that all these record guys came out from the East wearing suits and ties and I’d say, ‘Hey, this is California. You can’t dress like that here,’” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1980. “And then I’d rip the ties off and put them on the wall.”
True to form, Solomon died at 92 on Sunday at his home in the state’s capital, while watching the Academy Awards telecast with his family and sharing his thoughts on what he liked about what he was seeing – and what he didn’t.
“Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked [his wife] Patti to refill his whiskey,” his son and former business partner Michael Solomon told the Sacramento Bee on Monday. “When she returned, he had died.”
Solomon nurtured Tower Records from a side business in which he started selling records out of his father’s drugstore to a mammoth international concern that posted sales of more than $1 billion in 1999.
Solomon is survived by his wife, Patti Drosins, and two sons, Michael and David.
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