This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Emilio Castillo.
Emilio Castillo, cofounder of Tower of Power, which is performing March 9-11 at South Point Casino, has delivered the best in rhythm and blues music for 50 years.
In this 30-minute episode of Talk About Las Vegas With Ira, Castillo reflects about his early days forming his first band; developing the style and music of what became Tower of Power; how the band came to be named; the influence of Sly Stone.
He also talks about his relationship with impresario and rock concert promoter Bill Graham; playing with the Rolling Stones, and releasing two albums celebrating the 50th anniversary of the group.
Their first record, East Bay Grease, helped to define the East Bay sound, and did well enough to warrant a recording contract with Warner Brothers. Bump City, their 1972 debut for the label, was a hit on both the Billboard 200 and the chart’s R&B Albums chart, and netted them the hits “You’re Still A Young Man” and “Down To The Nightclub.”
“We’re not a smooth jazz band, or a retro band…we don’t follow trends, we just make our music exactly the way we want it to be. We noticed years ago that when we did that, the fans liked it,” says Castillo. “We stay true to that, and that makes it easy to go to work on a daily basis. Every time we go to play, we’re playing music we love because we got to make it our way.”
The decade of the 1970s were a boom period for the group, who hit with radio classics like “So Very Hard To Go” and “What Is Hip?” and the band has continued to tour and record over the years with their latest project Hipper Than Hip being a live flash back to their 1974 tour. Castillo says their love of the stage is the same today as it was back in 1968.