Longtime Tower Of Power bassist Francis “Rocco” Prestia dies at 69

His playing was central to the sound of the band.

Rocco Prestia

Image: Clayton Call/Redferns / Getty Images

Longtime Tower of Power bassist Francis “Rocco” Prestia has died at the age of 69.

Prestia’s passing was shared on social media, where Emilio Castillo, bandleader of Tower Of Power wrote: “Our dear ‘Rocco’ passed away last night, peacefully with his family by his side at a hospice in Las Vegas. Some of us were blessed to have a few parting words with him over the last few days and for that I’m so grateful. Many people know that I always called him Frank because his name was Frank Hueton back in 1965. Frank was a very sweet kid with really cool hair when we first met in junior high school and we actually brought him into our band because of his hair; he was a horrible guitar player.

“My father had hired a teacher named Terry Saunders to teach us one song a week and the first thing Terry said to Frank was, ‘You need to play the bass!!!’ How right he was!!! As a bass player, he was totally unique and as a person, he was one of a kind. He fought a long fight over the last 20 years and now he’s with the Lord and heaven is his home. I’ll miss him dearly but I know that he’s now at peace and I look forward to seeing him there. To say that Francis Rocco Prestia was a huge part of the Tower of Power sound is a gross understatement. When people listened to Tower Of Power it was always Rocco that they walked away talking about and he had a major impact on the music world.”

Prestia was the first bass player in the R&B/Funk band, and for many defined its sound. As friend of the band Brian Rachlin wrote on Prestia’s official Facebook page, “Rocco’s contribution to Tower of Power speaks for itself. He was very much responsible for creating their sound. The unspoken musical communication between Rocco and Dave was amazing to watch. Luckily there is a vast catalogue of recordings going back to 1970 that document Rocco and Tower of Power. All incredible recordings.”

Following health issues, he had sat out of most of their recent performances, and left in 2018. Over his time with the band, he appeared on 22 of their studio records.

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