Rick Stevens, Early Tower of Power Lead Singer, Appearing Thursday, January 24, at Concert for Autism Awareness in San Francisco (w/ Video Update)
UPDATE (01/26/13): Part of the Bimbo’s performance popped up on You Tube. It was the iconic “You’re Still a Young Man.”
UPDATE (01/28/13): …and here is the other part! “What Is Hip?” That band can kick ass, seriously.
It’s like time stopped. The brother still has it. I’m glad that he is with us again. Enjoy…
Very glad to hear about this. After 36 years in prison, former Tower of Power lead singer Rick Stevens will perform along with Tierra, Generation, Esmerald, Puro Bandio, and Dakila at Bimbo’s on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco‘s North Beach this coming Thursday in a fundraiser for autism awareness.
Stevens talked by phone earlier this week, continuing his transition to freedom in Antioch where he lives with his oldest son. Stevens makes his first publicized appearance Thursday in San Francisco, delivering his trademark song on behalf of autism awareness and The Voices of Latin Rock concert at Bimbo’s.
Stevens is a long-time friend of the event’s other founder, Bernie Gonzales, whose 12-year-old son has autism. The event, coordinated by Vallejo residents Jeff Trager and Ron Sansoe, should show that Stevens still has the pipes, Trager said.
“Rick did his time. And now he’s back singing one of the most requested Tower of Power songs in the group’s 40 years,” Trager said.
And it was time not necessarily wasted. He got clean, read voraciously, became a Christian, and did occasional concerts in prison. The latter, as well as his identity as a famous singer, allowed him to negotiate his way through the prisons where he was incarcerated relatively unharmed. “Music served me well. It was a blessing. I could walk among the Crips, the Bloods, the Nortenos, the Skinheads, bikers.” He was untouched by a lot of the foolishness, drugging, beefs and retaliation that has enveloped many in the prison population.
When Stevens was released, it took little time for him to be reunited with his surviving Tower of Power bandmates (Skip Mesquite, unfortunately, is no longer with us, losing his battle with cancer in 2010):
Castillo and other Tower players reunited with Stevens at a Sacramento recording studio a few months after the singer’s release.
“Really emotional,” Castillo said. “He was very apologetic and I just told him that I was glad he was OK.”
Castillo, as a born-again Christian, said he was “personally overwhelmed by the power of God.”
Castillo last spoke with Stevens in 2008 in prison.
“I was trying to get him a special leave to come and participate in our 40th anniversary DVD, but the prison wouldn’t allow it,” Castillo said.
Too bad. But they could still do a live album or a new studio album.
What does Stevens want now? The San Jose Mercury News says that he wants a new band, a recording contract, and a new life. That’s not impossible. It would be a great comeback.
The Mercury-News also reports that Stevens is the father of ten children from four marriages, so I’m sure that he also has to catch-up with them as well as with grandchildren.
I can’t be there, but if you can afford the plane fare or the gas, check out this concert for a worthy cause, and see Rick roll out those oldies but goldies. Tickets to the Thursday show are $10-$12, which will help benefit autism, call 415-285-7719 or visit www.latinrockinc.net. And let us know how you liked the concert.