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Russ Solomon, Founder of Tower Records, Dies at 92

 SACRAMENTO -- Tower Records founder and Sacramento icon Russ Solomon died Sunday.

"If you wanted music that's where you went. And to work there? It was like being a doorman at a hot nightclub in town," said Jeff Dominguez.

As a young man, Dominguez had one of the coolest jobs out there. He worked at Tower Records.

"How it broke down was, you walked in and the music's blaring, right? And it's like you're walking into a party," Dominguez said.

The host of that party was Solomon, the kid who started selling music off a card table in his dad's drug store on Broadway in Sacramento.

"He's self-educated. He didn't graduate high school," said Solomon's son, Mike. "But he had a lot of street smarts. He's very charismatic."

Solomon built his record store dream into a billion-dollar industry, with 89 Tower Record stores across the country and 144 stores run under license in nine other countries.

He took his beloved hometown Sacramento along for the ride.

"With Tower... Tower put Sacramento on the map as a place to be cool," said Dylan McDonald with the Center for Sacramento History.

"And Russ was the king of all of it," Dominguez said. "So when he walked in it was like the crowds parted. He was saying hi to people and it was like, 'I'm going to go shake his hand.'"

Solomon's vision was as simple as it was powerful, with a big box store selection but a small record store feel.

But like any really beautiful moment, it didn't last. Internet sales, music downloads and overextended credit to fuel Tower's expansion eventually did the Juggernaut in.

In 2010, at age 84, Solomon said that he was ready to give up the retail music business when he shut down his R5 Records, which was at 16th Street and Broadway, across the street from the former Tower Drugs, where he started selling records in the 1950s in his father’s shop.

But Solomon himself would live to a ripe old age, making art and appreciating art until Sunday night. He was watching the Oscars with his wife.

"And there was a break he says, 'Hey would you get me a glass of whiskey?'" Mike Solomon said. "And she did. And she went into the kitchen, and came back out and he was slumped on the couch."

Russel Solomon was 92 years old.

Solomon and Tower Records were profiled in the Colin Hanks-directed documentary "All Things Must Pass," released in 2015.

Last year, Solomon was honored with a spot on the Sacramento Walk of Stars. Solomon's Delicatessen, the new locally owned Jewish deli coming to the 700 block of K Street, is named in his honor.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted Monday about Solomon's legacy:

"We’ve lost a [Sacramento] and National icon. Russ Solomon’s contributions to our community will last another 92 years & more. We mourn his loss & our thoughts are with his wife Patti and their family."