The band's roots go back to Oakland, Calfornia in the mid to late sixties when they evolved out of "The Motowns". Tenor sax player Emilio Castillo was the band's founder, and is still with them today. They were regulars at Winterland and The Fillmore, where they built up a firm following. Numerous line - up changes ensued over the years, and although there were sometimes long breaks between album releases, the band never really split up. Their famed horn section has appeared with many other artists, including Huey Lewis and the News and Phil Collins, to name just a few. The nineties have seen Tower of Power back where they belong : the world's best soul/brass rock outfit.

Tower of Power 
Tower of Power - What is Hip?, from "Tower of Power", their 3rd album, released in 1974. TOP were an Oaklands, California based outfit, formed in the late sixties, evolving out of an outfit called The Motowns/Motown Soul Band. A band known for showcasing their brass section as opposed to hiding it, TOP were one of the most successful and best known brass rock/soul bands of the seventies. Their original line-up included the talents of leader Emilio Castillo, Steve "Doc" Kupka and Lenny Pickett on saxes, Greg Adams and Mic Gillette on trumpets, Willie Fulton on guitar, Francis" Rocco" Prestia on bass, Brent Byer on percussion, David Garibaldi on drums and Rufus Miller on vocals, making TOP one of the biggest and most powerful b ands around. They, like Cold Blood, were initially signed to Billy Graham's San Francisco label, and they recorded their debut album, "East Bay Grease", in 1970. They went on to become firm favourites at Bill Graham's Fillmore auditorium. Signing to Warner Brothers Records in early 1972, they released a number of charting singles and albums for the label. Future members included vocalists Lenny Williams, Hubert Tubbs, Rick Stevens, Tom Bowes and Brent Carter, keyboard player Chester Thompson, guitarist Bruce Conte and a host of others. Although TOP had a pretty stormy and incident filled history which e ncompassed drug and record company problems, they recorded nineteen live and studio albums, in addition to a number of compilations, one of which, the e xcellent double "What is Hip?" compilation, which came out in 1999, is essential listening for anyone who wants an introduction to this amazing group. They're still around today.
 ¬†Tower of Power - What is Hip?, from "Tower of Power", their 3rd album, released in 1974. TOP were an Oaklands, California based outfit, formed in the late sixties, evolving out of an outfit called The Motowns/Motown Soul Band. A band known for showcasing their brass section as opposed to hiding it, TOP were one of the most successful and best known brass rock/soul bands of the seventies. Their original line-up included the talents of leader Emilio Castillo, Steve "Doc" Kupka and Lenny Pickett on saxes, Greg Adams and Mic Gillette on trumpets, Willie Fulton on guitar, Francis" Rocco" Prestia on bass, Brent Byer on percussion, David Garibaldi on drums and Rufus Miller on vocals, making TOP one of the biggest and most powerful b ands around. They, like Cold Blood, were initially signed to Billy Graham's San Francisco label, and they recorded their debut album, "East Bay Grease", in 1970. They went on to become firm favourites at Bill Graham's Fillmore auditorium. Signing to Warner Brothers Records in early 1972, they released a number of charting singles and albums for the label. Future members included vocalists Lenny Williams, Hubert Tubbs, Rick Stevens, Tom Bowes and Brent Carter, keyboard player Chester Thompson, guitarist Bruce Conte and a host of others. Although TOP had a pretty stormy and incident filled history which e ncompassed drug and record company problems, they recorded nineteen live and studio albums, in addition to a number of compilations, one of which, the e xcellent double "What is Hip?" compilation, which came out in 1999, is essential listening for anyone who wants an introduction to this amazing group. They're still around today.

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Biography by Greg Prato
The renowned horn-driven funk outfit Tower of Power has been issuing albums and touring the world steadily since the early '70s, in addition to backing up countless other musicians. The group's leader since the beginning has always been tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillo, who was born in Detroit, but opted to pursue his musical dreams in Oakland, CA. It was in Oakland that Castillo put together a group called the Motowns, which as its name suggested, specialized in '60s-era soul. Castillo teamed up with a baritone sax player (and Motowns fan) Stephen "Doc" Kupka, and soon the Motowns had transformed into Tower of Power (one of the first tunes the duo penned together was "You're Still a Young Man," which would eventually go on to be one of the TOP's signature compositions). Tower of Power played regularly in the Bay Area throughout the late '60s, as its lineup often swelled up to ten members, including such other mainstays as Greg Adams on trumpet and vocals and Rocco Prestia on bass. By 1970, the funk outfit had inked a recording contract with Bill Graham's San Francisco Records, resulting in the group's debut the same year, East Bay Grease, which failed to make an impression on the charts as TOP was still trying to find their own sound.

But it all came together quickly for the group, as 1972's Bump City would touch off a string of classic hit releases, including 1973's self-titled release (which included another one of the group's most enduring tunes, "What Is Hip?"), 1974's Back to Oakland, plus 1975's Urban Renewal and In the Slot. While Tower of Power remained a must-see live act, the quality of their subsequent records became erratic, resulting in some admirable releases (Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now, Live and in Living Color) and several uninspired albums that are best skipped over (We Came to Play, Back on the Streets).

Despite the dip in the quality of their albums, Tower of Power remained a much in-demand backing group for some of pop/rock's biggest names, including Elton John, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Huey Lewis, Little Feat, David Sanborn, Michelle Shocked, Paula Abdul, Aaron Neville, Aerosmith, Michael Bolton, Billy Preston, PiL, Rod Stewart, Toto, Merl Saunders, and others. Tower of Power remains very active to this day, keeping up a brisk touring schedule and issuing such new albums as 1999's Soul Vaccination: Live; while several compilations were issued around the same time: Rhino's double disc What Is Hip?: The Tower of Power Anthology (1999) and Very Best of Tower of Power: The Warner Years (2001), plus Epic/Legacy's Soul With a Capital "S": The Best of Tower of Power (2001). 

 

Lenny Williams
Richard Elliot
David Mann
David Bartlett
Ron Beck
Brent Byars
Brent Carter
Emilio Castillo
Bruce Conte
Victor Conte
Barry Danielian
Brandon Fields
Willie Fulton
David Garibaldi
Mic Gillette
Carmen Grillo
Ellis Hall
Michael Jeffries
Stephen "Doc" Kupka
Herman Matthews
Edward McGee
Skip Mesquite
Rufus Miller
Nick Milo
David Padron
Lenny Pickett
Francis Prestia
Vito San Filippo
Jay Spell
Richard Stevens
Lee Thornburg
Chester Thompson
Hubert Tubbs
Danny Hoefer
Greg Adams
Tom Bowes
Bill Churchville
Russ McKinnon
Mick Mestek
Ron E. Beck

The Sound of Philadelphia
The Sons of Champlin
Brecker Brothers
Saturday Night Live Band
Cold Blood
Elton John
James Brown

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Tower of Power - 1970 - East Bay Grease - 3/5

Tower of Power - 1972 - Bump City - 3/5

Tower of Power - 1973 - Tower of Power - 4.5/5

Tower of Power - 1974 - Back to Oakland - 4.5/5

Tower of Power - 1975 - In the Slot - 3/5

Tower of Power - 1975 - Urban Renewal - 4.5/5

Tower of Power - 1976 - Ain't Nothin' Stoppin' Us Now - 3/5

Tower of Power - 1976 - Live & In Living Color - 4/5

Tower of Power - 1978 - We Came to Play - 1/5

Tower of Power - 1979 - Back on the Streets - 1/5

Tower of Power - 1988 - Direct - 1/5

Tower of Power - 1988 - Power - 1.5/5

Tower of Power - 1991 - Monster on a Leash - 3/5

Tower of Power - 1993 - T.O.P. - 4/5

Tower of Power - 1995 - Souled Out - 2/5

Tower of Power - 1997 - Direct Plus - 4/5

Tower of Power - 1997 - Rhythm & Business - 2.5/5

Tower of Power - 1999 - Soul Vaccination, Live - 3/5

Tower of Power - 2003 - Havin' Fun - 4/5

Tower of Power - 2003 - The Oakland Zone - 2.5/5

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