For more than 40 years, Tower Records stood as an icon of the music retail industry. A worldwide company that found its humble beginnings in a Sacramento drugstore, it became a favorite of famous musicians and average Joes. The stores left a permanent mark on American history and Americans' memories.
In 2009, Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, donated to the Center for Sacramento History more than 200 boxes of tangible memories, including art, photographs, memorabilia, business records, office furnishings and neon signs from Tower stores.
The center hopes to preserve and archive the collection and give the public access to it.
"Ideally, we want to formulate an exhibit that will go to cities where Tower really had a presence," said Greig Best, executive director of the Sacramento History Foundation.
But this is a long-term aspiration. First steps first.
This week marks the start of the Tower Records Project, the center's fundraising campaign for the Tower collection.
The official website launched Monday, offering sneak peeks of the collection and the opportunity to contribute to the effort. The project will last through September, when organizers hope to have raised at least $300,000, enough to hire an archivist and purchase preservation supplies.
The campaign is not just about the money. Project organizers also want to get mementos and personal stories from people involved with Tower Records. The idea is to create a colorful and complete collection of Tower history, but it also is to acknowledge and celebrate everyone's memories.
"The Tower people are a unique group of folks. They really care about the place and are passionate about it," said Best.
The project has already started collecting anecdotes on Facebook and plans to have a section devoted to them on the website.
So far, these stories support the slogan of the campaign: "Tower Records is more than music." It also was a place where people discovered music, escaped the pressures of the outside world, indulged themselves and even found love.