“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, a campaign to fund the preservation of Russ’ gift and make it publicly available, has kicked off.
But this project will not succeed without your help.
In the coming months, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for Tower Records Project updates.
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.
The Tower Records Project at the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) entails three overlapping phases over the next two years to capture the spirit and history of the “largest music store in the known universe.” Over the next three months we hope to raise $300,000 to complete all three phases:)
Create kick-off event to announce the project, website, and fundraising efforts.
Create an online community where former employees and fans can share their personal stories, experiences, photographs and mementos about the world’s first music superstore.
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.
Conceptualize and plan a nationwide traveling exhibit on Tower Records, debuting in Sacramento in 2015 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.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it. Thanks for your loyalty.”
– Sunset Boulevard store marquee, October 2006
We invite you to help the Center for Sacramento History document the “largest music store in the known universe”! Funding this campaign helps us preserve the Tower Records Archive. Your financial support is critical.
All donations are appreciated, whether your budget allows a single vinyl record, or a multi-platinum hit. Give what you can, and get recognized as a Tower Records Project supporter. Read more about our donation and incentive levels below. Donate now. Tower to the people!
If Tower Records helped launch your music industry career and you would like to give a little back, or if you just believe in the project and have more to give, please check out our Diamond Record Donor PDF for sponsorship levels and naming rights.
A donation at this level allows us to preserve photographs of the Tower Shibuya store grand opening in archival sleeves!
In appreciation of your gift at this level you will receive*:
A donation at this level allows us to preserve issues of Pulse! magazine in archival quality storage boxes!
In appreciation of your gift you will receive all the benefits of a Vinyl Record (Single) gift plus*:
A donation at this level allows us to preserve Tower Records t-shirts from Sacramento, New York, L.A. – Sunset, and Japan in archival quality textile storage boxes!
In appreciation of your gift you will receive all the benefits of a Vinyl Record (Album) gift plus*:
A donation at this level allows us to digitize Tower Records radio advertising spots, including a 1973 commercial voiced by John Lennon!
In appreciation of your gift you will receive all the benefits of a Silver Record gift plus*:
A donation at this level allows us to preserve the Tower Records calendars by artist Frank Carson in an archival 5-drawer flat file cabinet!
In appreciation of your gift you will receive all the benefits of a Gold Record gift plus*:
A donation at this level allows us to preserve the original Tower Records neon sign in an archival storage crate!
In appreciation of your gift you will receive all the benefits of a Platinum Record gift plus*:
*Donor benefits will be mailed at the conclusion of the fundraising campaign, ending on September 30, 2013. Please alert us of any changes to your address.
The primary mission of the Tower Records Project is preserving the original collection and making it publicly accessible. The Center for Sacramento History also plans to add to its holdings by soliciting photographs, oral histories, and artifacts that document the Tower experience. A nationwide travelling exhibit of the collection is also in the planning stages. Greater gifts of support are needed to make these efforts a reality.
To support the Tower Records Project by becoming a Diamond Record Donor, please contact the Tower Records Project Development Committee coordinator Greig Best at (916) 247-1234 or via email email@example.com.
Download the Diamond Record Donor PDF here.
Gifts to the Tower Records Project should be made to the Sacramento History Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Here are our music loving, Tower Records Project sponsors.