Tower Records Began with Used Juke 45s


At one time, Tower Records was the largest chain of music stores in the nation, maybe in the world (they had branches in Europe, Asia and South America besides the U.S.A.). A documentary available on the Showtime cable channel entitled “All Things Must Pass” traces the origin and growth of this now-defunct retail giant. . . and coinbiz people will get a kick learning that this once-billion dollar business actually started by selling used 45rpm records bought from some Sacramento, Calif., jukebox operators.

The program doesn’t mention which route or routes sold them to Tower founders Clayton and Russ Solomon; but it does disclose that they paid 3 cents each for the old discs and resold them to the teenage public for a dime from their store called Tower Drugs. It was so successful that Russ decided to sell new records as well, established a huge outlet on Watt Ave. in 1963 and the rest is the history played out on this beautifully-done film.

Tower Records under Solomon peaked in the ’80s and ultimately fell victim to Napster, iPod and the other electronic developments that slammed into the once-simple “record business.” Oddly, it doesn’t mention the adverse affect that the video game boom of the late ’70s, early ’80s had on record sales when youngsters flocked to our now-classic upright games, pumping quarter after quarter into the machines rather than the cash registers at places like Tower. As the documentary’s title says: “All Things Must Pass” (just like the video boom itself).


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