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RUSS SOLOMON 

RUSS SOLOMON PARKRuss Solomon

The park at the western entrance to the McKinley Village neighborhood is named in honor of Russ Solomon, the legendary Sacramento resident who founded Tower Records and built it into a global music and cultural phenomenon.

Born in San Francisco in 1925, Russ grew up mostly in Sacramento where his father Clayton established Tower Cut Rate Drugs in the Tower Theatre building in the 1930s. In 1941, at the age of 16, Russ began selling used jukebox records at his father’s drugstore and soon had his own street entrance for his music business. In 1960, he opened his second store (Tower North on Watt Avenue); in 1968, a third store in San Francisco just as the golden age of rock was peaking; and soon thereafter, the iconic Tower Records on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. By the 1990s, Tower was a global enterprise with over $1 billion in revenues and more than 200 stores. With stores in the United States and 14 other countries, Tower was the nation’s largest privately held music retailer.

Tower Records was more than a business enterprise - it transformed the music business as its innovative, vibrant megastores became gathering spots for music, video, and book lovers who shopped and mingled late into the evening. Like the store in New York’s Greenwich Village, they were all landmarks in their own right. While Tower ultimately gave way to massive shifts in music retailing, Solomon’s contributions to the music world had a profound effect for decades around the world. In March 2015, a poignant documentary on Tower’s history and legacy, “All Things Must Pass,” produced by former Sacramentan and actor Colin Hanks debuted in Austin, Texas. In 2016, Russ was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2018.

In addition to shaping the modern music scene across the world, Russ was an active supporter of the Sacramento arts scene. He was a member of the Crocker Art Museum Board of Directors and an early Board member of KVIE. Russ was instrumental in the formation of Sacramento’s Artists Cooperative Gallery, which later became known as the Artists Contemporary Gallery. He supported the work of and collected many of Sacramento’s well-known artists such as Wayne Thiebaud, Gary Pruner, Suzanne Adan, Jack Ogden, Jerald Silva, Helen Post, Ralph Goings, Ken Waterstreet, Ruth Rippon, Darrell Forney, Maija Peeples, Roy De Forest, Sandy Shannonhouse, Robert Arneson, Peter Vandenberg, Camille Vandenberg, and others.

Russ was a talented photographer and had several exhibitions of his own work during his lifetime, including a 2015 exhibition at the Sacramento City College Kondos Gallery featuring portraits he took of Sacramento community leaders and residents.