A pair of saxophone players met in California in 1968 and started their own group. Emilio Castillo and Stephen “Doc” Kupka recruited members of a group they named The Motowns and began playing soul-related music with a heavy horn section. The group felt that In order to play at the Fillmore in San Francisco they would have to change their name, and by 1970 they called themselves Tower of Power. They also recorded their first album that year.
The group’s first single failed to chart, but in 1972 they reached #29 on the Hot 100 with the single You’re Still A Young Man. Their next single failed to reach the top forty.
In 1973 they released their most successful single, So Very Hard To Go. The single peaked at #17 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B chart. While it’s not a surprise that the group appeared on Soul Train, I was surprised to find out they were allowed to perform their hit live.
The group released new albums every year in the rest of the seventies and even recorded an album of disco music that their record label wanted. After that failed to produce any hits, albums became less frequent. Their most recent album was released in 2018.
The list of artists who have used the Tower Of Power horn section to back them up on recordings includes Santana, Aerosmith, Elton John, Huey Lewis, Otis Redding, The Monkees, Heart, Rod Stewart, and Paula Abdul.
Personnel changes have been constant for a long time, with over 60 musicians coming and going through the years. Original members Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka and David Garibaldi are still active members of the band. The group continues to tour and still has its own website at https://towerofpower.com/.
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