Russ Solomon, who founded Tower Records in Sacramento in the 1960s, reportedly died on Sunday.
But, the company went bankrupt in the mid-2000s as the music industry shifted towards digital.
"Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked [his wife] Patti to to refill his whisky", his son, Michael, told the Sacramento Bee.
The elder Solomon began selling records out of his dad's drugstore in 1941 at just 16 years old. He named it after his father's drug store, which shared a building and its name with the landmark Tower Theater.
At its peak, Tower Records recorded an annual revenue over $1 billion and more than 200 stores worldwide.. The Tokyo branch was once the world's largest music store.
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Solomon later was the focus of "All Things Must Pass", a 2015 documentary on Tower's history produced by actor Colin Hanks.
He expanded to San Francisco in 1968, opening near Fisherman's Wharf at the very moment the city was becoming a focal point for American rock.
Tower's bankruptcy in the United States came before the recent rebirth of record stores fueled by new interest in vinyl, with several hundred shops opening in the past five years.
Solomon was 92. He would have been 93 this September.