By Greg Smart
HUBER HEIGHTS — Tower of Power, in its 46th year of existence, will bring its Funk, R&B, soul and jazz background to perform at the Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on July 21.
Band leader Emilio Castillo was asked what the secret was to the success of Tower of Power.
“I’m a believer, so I give all the credit to God for the fact that we’re even still here,” said Castillo in a telephone interview. “I did everything in my power to mess things up in my life. I did that for a lot of years and then sobered up in ‘88 and I started a spiritual path and eventually, my guys did as well. We all pray together and we’re a family. I give all the credit to God for that.”
Castillo also said that one of the things that makes it easy for him to go to work every day “is that we make the music exactly the way we want it to be.” He said the group doesn’t change because of trends or because of what fans want them to do.
“We notice that when we do that, our fans really dig it,” said Castillo. “We stay true to that and it makes it easy to go to work everyday.”
The group is generally on the road for 200 days a year, which includes performances, travel time and days off.
Castillo said his love for the stage never changes. He said the group puts all of their energy forward to give their best possible performance, but really appreciates getting the energy back from the fans.
“There’s some other certain kind of thing that happens between the two of us that makes it very special,” said Castillo. “I love recording, I love writing songs, the rehearsing, doing all these different parts of my business, but that’s a very special thing—playing live on stage.”
Tower of Power’s horn section has made guest appearances with The Monkees, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Arrowsmith and many other recording artists.
“There’s been a lot of great sessions over the years,” said Castillo.
Castillo said he is asked about their relationship with Little Feet, for whom he said they did most of their recorded studio albums.
“We did a live recording with them that took them to number one—it was called ‘Waiting For Columbus,’” said Castillo. “After that album came out, they were on the cover of People Magazine and it was a real special teaming up of musicians. Our horn section fit really well with their type of music.”
The group was formed in 1968 by band leader Castillo (saxophone and vocalist) and Stephan “Doc” Kupka (baritone saxophone). When the two met, they realized they each had a love for soul music that was “far above anybody else we knew,” said Castillo. “We had a passion for it and we’ve been best friends ever since.”
The group was originally known as The Motowns before becoming Tower of Power. Castillo and Kupka were the main songwriters for Tower of Power. He said the song that gets played the most on radio is “You’re Still A Young Man” while he is asked the most about “What Is Hip?”
Castillo said the song he is most proud of and enjoys playing the most is “There’s Only So Much Oil In The Ground.”
“The reason I’m so proud of it and enjoy playing it so much, is I dig the groove, I love the solos—the tenor solo and the organ solo,” said Castillo. “The lyrics are really, really pertinent and they get more pertinent every year because every year we’re faced with the energy crisis. I just think it’s one of those songs that is going to last a lifetime.”
Castillo said the group has a current release, a two-disc set, called “Tower of Power—Hipper Than Hip, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” that’s a live recording done in 1974. Castillo said he was contacted by a record company who indicated they had master tapes in the vault and that they wanted to release them.
“I listened for about 15 minutes and I immediately gave my approval,” said Castillo. “We really were excited that night.”
Castillo said the group is also doing a new recording. He said they are recording 25 songs and then will pick the best 12 songs after they are complete. The first release is expected out within the next two years then followed by a second release.
Greg Smart may be reached at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com.Greg Smart may be reached at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com.