“Guys would come up and tell me, ‘I can play such-and-such a Tower of Power song note-for-note.’ But who cares?” The magic of Rocco Prestia’s bassline on Tower of Power’s Only So Much Oil in the Ground

Tower of Power [L-R: Greg Adams (trumpet), Mic Gillette (trumpet), Stephen Kupka/Doc/The Doctor (sax), Emilio Castillo (sax), David Bartlett (drums), Lenny Picket (sax), Francis Prestia/Rocco (bass), Lenny Williams (vocals), Bruce Conte (guitar), Chester Thompson (keyboards)] performs on Soul Train episode 126, aired 2/1/1975
(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Steal and incorporate,” the late Rocco Prestia stressed in the November 2008 issue of Bass Player, noting that copping another bass player's approach is an exercise best used for refining your own style. “Guys sometimes come up and tell me, ‘I can play such-and-such a Tower Of Power song note for note.’ But who cares? If you can't play it like you, it ain't worth nothing.”

From his founding perch as Tower Of Power's propulsive bassist, Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia helped innovate fingerstyle funk and redefine the concept of groove on such pocket anthems as What Is Hip? Soul Vaccination, and Squib Cakes.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Jisi was Contributing Editor, Senior Contributing Editor, and Editor In Chief on Bass Player 1989-2018. He is the author of Brave New Bass, a compilation of interviews with bass players like Marcus Miller, Flea, Will Lee, Tony Levin, Jeff Berlin, Les Claypool and more, and The Fretless Bass, with insight from over 25 masters including Tony Levin, Marcus Miller, Gary Willis, Richard Bona, Jimmy Haslip, and Percy Jones.