Tower of Power
may be available for your next special
With more than 30 years of recording and touring experience behind them, Tower of Power still garners reviews calling them a "very contemporary sounding band." Melding jazz, funk, rock and soul in a way no other group ever has, the ten-piece outfit is, as a Hollywood Reporter review called them, "tighter than a
Well known in the 70's for tunes like "What is Hip" and "You're Still A Young Man," Tower of Power toured with Sly Stone and Creedence Clearwater Revival, creating traffic jams when they started to headline their own shows. They played on records with the likes of
Rod Stewart, and
Dionne Warwick, and influenced a generation of musicians (including
Sting, who has told Emilio Castillo, founder of the group, that he once had a "Tower of Power clone band"
before he formed The Police.) Then, in the late 70's Tower of Power quietly disappeared from sight.
Now, Tower of Power is experiencing a renaissance, touring most of every year and packing venues in the U.S., Japan, and all over Europe with its audience of new and old fans.
It has been a long, hard road, but things just keep getting better and better. It has always been difficult to describe ToP's music; even band members, when asked, give myriad responses. Says founding member and saxophonist Emilio Castillo, "What Tower plays is urban soul music." Lead singer Brent Carter calls it "old school funk with new school flavor." And says former Tower saxophonist Lenny Pickett, now musical director for the "Saturday Night Live" television band, "ToP is the world's greatest rhythm and blues band."
In reality, Tower of Power's horn driven, in-your-face sound is all its own, and verbal descriptions fail. You have to experience it for yourself, and then, as Tower fans say, "seein' is believin."
Band leader Castillo, whose heritage is half-Mexican and half-Greek, was born in Detroit, then moved with his family to a working class
neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area's Fremont, a place he calls a "hot rod town." There, at 17 he formed a band called The Motowns, performing obscure soul tunes on the East Bay circuit. In 1968, Castillo hooked op with baritone saxophonist Stephen "The Funky Doctor" Kupka. The two moved to a house in the Oakland ghetto determined to compete with the Bay Areas reigning psychedelic rock bands. He changed the group's name to Tower of Power and discarded the sharkskin suits and razor-cut hairdos, but kept the sound and began writing original material with Kupka.
"Doc was the strangest bird I'd ever met," Castillo recalls. "He loved soul music – and that was my passion…we just clicked immediately." Out of their partnership came the beginnings of the Tower of Power repertoire. The first song the pair penned together was the band's signature classic "You're Still a Young Man." The group was soon a fixture in the legendary Bill Graham's San Francisco Records.
The rest is history, from "What is Hip?" to "Don't Change Horses (In The Middle of the Stream)" to
"Soul Vaccination." The Tower went through a down period in the early 80's, but never disbanded. In 1991 the top group made its first record for Epic/Sony, titled "Monster on a Leash," followed by 1993's "T.O.P." and in
1995, "Souled Out."
When not in the studio the band tours constantly, crisscrossing the world, selling out shows at venues from rock halls and theaters to sheds and giant festivals. Staunch fans travel miles and hours to see them; some of those fans plan their vacations to coincide with Tower performances. As if that wasn't enough, in between all those tour dates, the Tower of Power Horn Section has somehow found the time to guest on recordings for a very diverse group of artists – from
Michael Bolton to
Over the past few years Tower of Power has added new members and a fresh outlook, but the band has always remained true to itself and to its soul music roots, never failing to please audiences. As a reviewer from the "Fort Worth Star Telegram" wrote, "If you see someone sitting still at a Tower of Power concert, don't bother checking their pulse – they're already dead!"
What others say --
- "When It comes to straight-up R&B, no band kicks it like Tower of Power" -
Hit songs include --
- So Very Hard To Go
- Drop It In The Slot
- Don't Change Horses (In The Middle of A Stream)
- This Time It's Real
- Time Will Tell
- What Is Hip?
- You're So Wonderful, So Marvelous
- Rock Baby
- You Ought To Be Havin' Fun
- Down To The Nightclub
- Willing To Learn
- Only So Much Oil In The Ground
- Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now
- Lovin' You Is Gonna See Me Thru
Tower of Power may be available for your next special
.Classic Rock. / ClassicRock
.Quiet Storm. / QuietStorm
.Funk. / xFunk
.Soul. / xSoul
x70s, x80s, x90s, x00s, x10s
Formed: ..in California / formed nCalifornia
Formed: ..in Oakland / formed OaklandCA
Formed: in 1967
Based: ..in US
Based: ..in California / based nCalifornia
Based: ..in Oakland / based