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New national honor to be bestowed upon Tower Records founder Russ Solomon

Tower founder raps on record legacy

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon reflects on the legacy of the business he founded.
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Tower Records founder Russ Solomon reflects on the legacy of the business he founded.

Tower Records founder Russ Solomon pioneered the music "superstore" in America. So perhaps it's fitting that Solomon is about to become the first person inducted into the fledgling Music Business Hall of Fame.

Solomon, who died at his Sacramento home in March, will be inducted by actor and former Sacramentan Colin Hanks, who directed the 2015 Tower documentary "All Things Must Pass." The induction will take place in Nashville on May 17 at the annual conference of the Music Business Association, a national trade organization.

Solomon had learned of the honor before his death, said James Donio, president of the association, which is organizing the Hall of Fame.

"I had spoken with Russ to tell him he would be the first inductee, and he was humbled and excited to have been selected and planned to be in Nashville for the ceremony," Donio said in a prepared statement.

The association hasn't mapped out plans for a physical hall of fame "but it is certainly something we will explore in the coming years," Donio said.

The induction is the latest in a series of honors for Solomon in the years since Tower went out of business in 2006. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in Sacramento in 2016, alongside Harrison Ford and others. A Jewish delicatessen named for Solomon is expected to open this summer on K Street, at the site of a former Tower store.

Solomon was a legend in music retailing and Sacramento business. He got his start selling records from the back of his father's drug store as a teenager in 1941, and formally launched Tower Records in 1960. Tower was considered the first "superstore," with records practically stacked to the ceiling.

At its peak in the late 1990s, the company generated $1 billion in annual sales, with stores around the world. However, Solomon underestimated the power of the internet and Tower was unable to compete against Amazon, iTunes and other forces. It was liquidated after a second trip to bankruptcy court.

Solomon isn't the only Sacramentan being honored at the music association's Nashville conference. The Radakovitz family, founders of Sacramento's Dimple Records chain, will receive the association's Independent Spirit Award.

Dimple, founded in 1983, operates seven stores in the Sacramento area, including one that occupies the same building on Broadway as one of the first Tower stores.

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