It was more than music.

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The Tower Records Project

No music. No Life.

“No music, no life.”

With that statement, Tower Records declared itself more than just a music store. From its founding in 1960 until its closure in 2006, Tower was a gathering place, a library, a barometer of cultural trends and one-time icon of the U.S. retail market.

Ultimately, the Tower Records business model—large stores with deep music catalogs—couldn’t compete in the age of digital downloads and discount retailers. But the spirit and history of this pioneering music store can live on. In fact, an effort to preserve the Tower experience is currently underway in Sacramento, California, the birthplace of Tower Records.

In 2009, founder Russ Solomon donated over 200 boxes of Tower-related history—artwork, photographs, memorabilia, awards, business records and correspondence, office furnishings and even the neon signs from the first stand-alone store—to the Center for Sacramento History. The Tower Records Project is a campaign to fund the preservation of Russ’ gift and make it publicly available for research.

But this project will not succeed without your help.  We’ll be asking for more than your financial support. We’ll want your Tower experiences, photographs and mementos to round out the story of Tower Records. Whether you worked or shopped there, we want to hear from you. Your invaluable contributions will help paint a complete picture of Tower as it was: a cultural epicenter, an extended family, a way of life and a scene unto itself.

For more information please contact the project organizers at


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What is the Center for Sacramento History?

Founded in 1953, the Center for Sacramento History is the historical research and education center for the Sacramento region. The Center’s collections are held in the public trust and reflect the many aspects of the social, economic, political, geographic and cultural history of the region.

The Center is the official repository for the archival records of local government; the long-term care of these public documents is often required by state and federal law. We also maintain privately donated manuscripts and personal papers from individuals, businesses and organizations in the community. The Center’s museum collections are artifacts, or three-dimensional objects, which also document the lives and activities of the residents of the Sacramento region.

Center staff members maintain the museum and archival collections, making the material available for study and use by the public. The staff also creates exhibitions and displays for the Sacramento History Museum and public areas of local government buildings.

All monetary donations given to the Tower Records Project are administered by the Center’s nonprofit, the Sacramento History Alliance, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to making Sacramento’s history accessible to all.

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“Tower Records is like a temple to me. I’ll stay there for hours.” – Billy Bob Thornton

The Tower Records Project at the Center for Sacramento History entails three overlapping phases that capture the spirit and history of the “largest music store in the known universe.” In June 2012, a kick-off event officially announced the project, website, and fundraising efforts.

Phase One

Making Tower Accessible

Process and catalog over 200 linear feet of archival records and hundreds of artifacts in the Tower Records Collection and the Russ Solomon Papers.

Perform preservation work and rehouse collection for storage at the Center’s climate controlled facility.

Migrate film/video and audio material from “dead media” to an accessible format.

Digitize selected posters, photographs, business records and correspondence, and transcribe interviews for online access.

Open collection for research, viewing, and listening to interested scholars, fans, and the public.

Phase Two

Expanding the Tower Story

Create an online community where former employees and fans can share their personal stories, photographs and mementos about the world’s first music superstore:

Actively seek items that capture the Tower experience from former employees, musicians, and fans – photographs, oral histories, and artifacts.

Phase Three

Taking Tower on the Road

Conceptualize and plan a nationwide traveling exhibit on Tower Records, debuting in Sacramento and traveling to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., New York and other cities.

Create partnerships with allied institutions to implement exhibit plan and select host sites.

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Here are our music loving, Tower Records Project sponsors.

  • Center for Sacramento History
  • Chris Lango
  • City of Sacramento
  • Corti Brothers
  • Dimple Records
  • Eagle 96.9
  • InterKnecht
  • NorCal Beverage
  • Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar
  • Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, Inc
  • Sacramento History Alliance
  • Sactown Magazine
  • Shasta Linen Supply
  • Steve Davis Productions
  • Umpqua Bank
  • Mary Beaven Los Angeles, CA
  • Shelly McIntosh Tempe, AZ
  • Estelle Saltzman Sacramento, CA
  • Harriet Saks Sacramento, CA
  • Sharon Vitro Los Angeles, CA
  • Zed Adams Arlington, VA
  • Jerome Riehl Roseville, CA
  • Andrew Klein Walker Los Angeles, CA
  • Anonymous Tokyo, Japan
  • Ikuo Minewaki Tokyo, Japan
  • Michael Chase El Macero, CA
  • Ken Sockolov Sacramento, CA
  • Connie Christensen Sacramento, CA
  • Ava Lemert Citrus Heights, CA
  • Annie Ross San Diego, CA
  • Tom Hammer Sacramento, CA
  • Carol Mott Sacramento, CA
  • Ann Ruiz Napa, CA
  • Denise McDonald Sacramento, CA
  • Roger Smith Sacramento, CA
  • Lynn Love Ripon, CA
  • Michael Stevens Sacramento, CA
  • Suzanne Adan Sacramento, CA
  • John Hendricks Sacramento, CA
  • Bridget Tarzwell Sacramento, CA
  • Kimberly Gesilki Robinson Sacramento, CA
  • John Frisch Sacramento, CA
  • Nathan Black Sacramento, CA
  • D. Oldman Neath Sacramento, CA
  • Chris Holben Sacramento, CA
  • James Wester Chicago, IL
  • Deb Kovich Sacramento, CA
  • Kenneth Allen Mountain View, CA
  • Rebecca Bunse Woodland, CA
  • Stephanie Mirkin San Diego, CA
  • Alisa Chatham Roseville, CA
  • Alexander Guilbert Sonora, CA
  • Genevieve Nauman Sacramento, CA
  • Karen Wilhelmi Sacramento, CA
  • Tom Fitzpatrick Sacramento, CA
  • Ken Sockolov Sacramento, CA
  • Johnny Law Daly City, CA
  • Stephanie Schmitt
  • Dennis Spangler Lewis Center, OH
  • Ryan Rasmason, Hoboken, NJ

Site Design by Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn and developed by Sacramento Marketing Labs