"If you’re overplaying, you’re under-listening": Rocco Prestia on 50 years with Tower of Power

Francis Rocco Prestia, circa 2000
(Image credit: Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty)

Like B.B. King’s string bends, Chuck Berry’s two-note chords, and Larry Graham’s thumb slaps, Francis “Rocco” Prestia’s groove-defining use of muted 16th-notes became an instantly recognizable fingerboard innovation that remained a soul-soothing constant in a fast-changing world. 

Forged in the iconic R&B horn band Tower Of Power, the magic and mystery of Prestia’s playing – and how he’s able to fit so many notes seamlessly into the pocket– remained 50 years on when we did this interview in July 2018. 

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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.