TIR 96: Castillo Tells How Tower of Power Has Stayed Hip for 50 Years


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 96 (3 Parts): The founder of one of the best-known, most distinctive, most dynamic, most beloved and long-lasting soul-funk groups of all time. Joining the TRUTH IN RHYTHM conversation is none other than Tower of Power saxophonist, composer, producer and all-around leader Emilio Castillo. Now celebrating 50 years and counting, TOP and its world-famous horn section emerged from California’s Bay Area in the late 1960s and have gone on to crank out more than 15 studio albums — including 2018’s sensational comeback, Soul Side of Town, several live recordings, and numerous hits and cherished songs.

Those include “You’re Still a Young Man,” “What Is Hip?” “So Very Hard to Go,” “This Time It’s Real,” “Time Will Tell,” “Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of a Stream),” “You Ought to Be Having Fun,” “You Got to Funkifize,” “Soul Vaccination,” “Squib Cakes,” “Drop It in the Slot,” “It Takes Two (to Make It Happen), “We Came to Play” and so many others. Concurrent will their own success, the TOP horns became among the record industry’s busiest session players, seemingly having worked with the most famous artists of the 1970s and 1980s. Those include Otis Redding, Santana, Aerosmith, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Little Feat, Heart, Graham Central Station, Journey, Cat Stevens, Huey Lewis & the News, Helen Reddy, the Grateful Dead, the Monkees, John Lee Hooker, Rod Stewart, the Brothers Johnson and lots more.

In what just may be the most in-depth interview ever done with Castillo, he reveals Tower of Power’s soup-to-nuts story, from how he became a musician to continuing to inject their busy performing schedule with that same passion and joy today. Along the way are insights into the creative process and what made the band unique, specifics about classic songs and albums, lurid tales of drug and substance abuse, recovery and redemption, and unforgettable stories of high points and his incredible experiences.