Tower of Power Celebrates 50 Years
In the summer of 1968, an unknown band named The Motowns began playing shows around the Oakland and Berkeley, California area. After gigging around the Bay Area for a while, the band set their sights on playing a bigger venue, Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. However, with a name like The Motowns, they knew the likelihood of booking the auditorium were slim. So, the band got together and agreed on a name change, one that has stuck that over the last 50 years, Tower of Power.
Established when tenor saxophonist and vocalist Emilio Castillo met and auditioned baritone saxophonist Stephen “Doc” Kupka, the two founding members have been a consistent presence throughout Tower of Powers tenure. With a list of at least 60 musicians who have toured or recorded under the band’s name in the past 50 years, Tower of Power has released 21 studio albums since their debut East Bay Grease in 1970.
NAMM has documented much of the history of Tower of Power through the NAMM Oral History Program, which captures interviews from across the music products industry. To date, the team behind these interviews has sat down with Jackie Berton, Emilio Castillo, Dave Garibaldi, Ellis Hall, Doc Kupka, Jim Mathews, Rocco Prestia, and Roger Smith. Segments of each of these interviews can be found at https://www.namm.org/category/tags-76
Attendees at The 2020 NAMM Show were able to catch Tower of Power on the Grand Plaza as part of the Yamaha Presents Tower of Power 50th Anniversary Concert, a retrospective of decades of groundbreaking music.
In March, Tower of Power released their first music video in the last 30 years. “Look In My Eyes” is the third official single off of their latest album, Step Up. While their tour is postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the band has dates resuming in May at this time.