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.



Scott Goldfine

As a fervid lifelong music & film enthusiast / student, I grew up in and around the Los Angeles entertainment industry. I have worked and held many positions in various media realms, since 1998 serving as Editor-in-Chief and now Associate Publisher for Security Sales & Integration, a trade publication serving the electronic security industry. I love several genres of music & film. The former includes funk (Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Ohio Players, etc.); blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Eric Gales, etc.); rock (Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, etc.); hard rock (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.); jazz (Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Crusaders, etc.); R&B (Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron, etc.); and more. I was a club disc jockey and ran a mobile DJ company (Musical Moods) for more than 15 years, which is where the name Dr. GX originates (Doctor Good Times). Fave film genres include horror (Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.); science fiction (Aliens, Terminator, 2001, etc.); action (Warriors, Road Warrior, Die Hard); westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, Showdown at OK Corral; Wild Bunch, etc.); suspense (Jaws, Inception, Silence of the Lambs, etc.); drama (Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.); and comedies (Life of Brian, Superbad, Ruthless People, etc.). I have attended many hundreds of concerts and movies (in theaters or screenings). I may as well also throw in a few favorite TV shows to give an even broader taste of my sensibilities. A handful would be Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Justified, Fargo, Seinfeld, Sopranos, South Park, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Key & Peele, Monty Python, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie, Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Last Man on Earth, Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family and The Office. Fave authors are Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Crichton. I am also a big sports fan and lifelong supporter of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB). Also enjoy my family of course, electronics/computers/AV gear, and animals, nature and outdoor activities. Graduate of Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College and California State University Northridge (Radio-TV-Film, Psychology minor). Also studied at UCLA for kinesiology/psychology and earned post-grad Certificate in Accounting from Santa Monica College. Present main occupation is as Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Security Sales & Integration (SSI), which I joined in 1998. I am responsible for overseeing all editorial content in print. online, electronic, in-person and any other media or products for the electronic security industry's leading business-to-business trade publication. SSI is part of Framingham, Mass.-based Emerald Expositions.