Tower was founded in 1960 by Russell Solomon in Sacramento, California. The store was named after his father's drugstore, which shared a building and name with the Tower Theater, where Solomon first started selling records. The area is known for the landmark Tower Bridge. The first Tower Records store was opened in 1960 on Watt Avenue in Sacramento. By 1976, Solomon had opened Tower Books, Posters, and Plants at 1600 Broadway, next door to Tower Records. It was also one of the first retailers to move online in 1995 as Tower.com.
Seven years after its founding, Tower Records expanded to San Francisco, opening a store in what was originally a grocery store at Bay and Columbus streets. The chain eventually expanded internationally to include stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. The Tower Records stores in Japan split off from the main chain and are now independent. Arguably the most famous Tower Records outlet was the one located on the north side of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.