Jim Salzer, owner of the popular Ventura music retail store Salzer’s Music, died March 15. He was 78 years old.
Mr. Salzer was a premier local concert promoter throughout the South Coast before he entered the retail business. He produced shows at Earl Warren Showgrounds, Ventura and other Southern California venues for artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors.
He is remembered by friends as being a “legendary icon” in the local music scene and hundreds paid tribute to Mr. Salzer via social media. Some recalled working with or for Mr. Salzer, while dozens of former customers also showed their respects.
“I always saw Jim as a guardian of the sacred past. His store, my favorite store, Salzers is like walking into a rock n roll time machine,” wrote Fuse Henry on Facebook.
“He was a pillar of right thinking and was never afraid to speak up against misinformation and nonsense. He was a true leader, respected by many.”
Donna Granata also shared sentiments on Facebook, recalling an old memory she shared with Mr. Salzer at Salzer’s Mercantile in the 1970s.
“I remember the beautiful old marble soda fountain downstairs and the penny arcade. If I recall correctly, the decor was a country saloon theme,” she wrote. “I remember the wooden floors and how they would creak when Jim walked in with his cowboy boots. I always thought of him as an old sage — even from those early days. He loved music and had a wonderful story for just about every song that would come to mind. I know he helped a lot of musicians along the way. Jim’s passing is the end of an era. RIP. My deepest condolences to family and friends.”
Mr. Salzer, a Chicago native, opened his first music store in Oxnard in 1966, though it only lasted six months, according to the Ventura County Reporter. One of his first customers was Mr. Hendrix, who reportedly stopped in to buy a new guitar amplifier.
Following multiple relocations, Salzer’s Old Fashioned Mercantile opened in 1972 at its present location, 5777 Valentine Road in Ventura just west of Highway 101.
Mr. Salzer was also among the various local retailers who started renting movies issued on videocassette. In 1980, he opened a standalone video rental store across the street from his record store.
One of his first customers was Steve McQueen, according to the VC Reporter.
In the 1990s, Mr. Salzer sat on the board of the Video Software Dealers Association and was a fixture in the group’s annual summer conventions in Las Vegas.
Mr. Salzer reportedly suffered a bad fall about two months ago, in which he suffered a broken neck and back. He was released from the hospital last week and suffered a second fall and died a short time after. Memorial services are pending.
Mr. Salzer is survived by his wife, Nancy, and children Sage and Brandon.