Founded in 1960 by Russ Solomon, Tower Records developed from a business he founded as a teenager to re-sell 78 rpm jukebox records in his father’s Sacramento drug store into a record retail behemoth that operated dozens of stores across the U.S., Tower Records, whose yellow-and-red color scheme, “No Music, No Life” slogan, and wide aisles stocked with LPs and CDs defined the retail music business in the pre-digital era, had, At its peak, nearly 200 stores in 15 countries and more than $1 billion in annual sales.
From the ‘70s through the ‘90s, with its everything-under-the-musical-sun style, Tower was the reigning music retailer in the country. Known for its enormous volume, and backed by its audiophile behind-the-counter staff, Tower Records became ground zero for in store performances and musician events, placing it No. 1 among U.S. music merchants.
Upon entering a Tower store (the outside walls of which were usually adorned with gigantic hand-painted billboards touting new releases), customers were greeted by a knowledgeable staff and tall stacks of the latest albums near the front door. Long aisles were packed with bins containing thousands of titles in every imaginable genre. The stores stayed open late and became evening hangouts for thousands of music fans, who’d stop in and buy a few items as part of their nights out: The Towers on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and Broadway in New York’s Greenwich Village were landmarks in their own right.
The shops even made devotees of the stars. Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl were regular visitors, but Tower’s most famous patron was Elton John, for whom the Hollywood store would open early.
Today, in exciting partnerships with artists, labels and brands, Tower Records is transcending its historic past by creating online and physical experiences for all music fans to “Know Music, Know Life”.