This site owes its existence to Russ Solomon, the founder of Tower Records who died on March 11 while watching the Oscars and drinking whiskey, according to reports.
I’ve already mentioned how Pulse magazine shaped my listening habits. The magazine also inspired me to become a music reviewer.
Jackson Griffith wrote columns for the magazine using a series of aliases. His writing style could be inscrutable and long-winded, but it was also humorous and, for avowed non-reader as myself back in high school, endlessly fascinating.
When I started writing reviews for the school paper, I tried — with little success — to emulate Griffith’s style. By the time I reached college, the greater lesson sank in: write like yourself, not that I had a clue who I was. The advent of the Internet allowed me to become my own publisher, and I’ve been subjecting you poor readers to these opinions for some 18 years now.
In college, I would receive promotional albums to review, but I could never get behind them. I could only write about items I bought with my own money, and back then, most of those items were bought at Tower Records. It was a lovely racket — Pulse spurred me to write about music, and Tower provided the product to do so.
I would read stories about how Walmart was the only place in town to buy music, which horrified me. Department store music sections were temples of mediocrity compared to the cornucopia found at Tower. I counted my lucky stars I could take the bus to a store that would stock albums by John Zorn, Joan Tower and In Tua Nua.
And while the Honolulu stores did their darnedest to have breadth and depth, Pulse hinted more was available that would never reach the islands. Early music e-commerce sites CD Now and Music Boulevard would chip away at Tower’s hold on my spending.
After I moved to Austin, my allegiance shifted to Waterloo Records and Amazon. I would later discover Tower didn’t have a monopoly on the idea of far ranging stock. Waterloo, Amoeba, Music Millennium, Silver Platters — the experience of Tower lives on.
So thank you, Russ Solomon, for connecting a precocious teen-ager to a lifetime of music fandom, financial ruin and obscure punditry.