Monday, January 18, 2016

Passings: Mic Gillette of Tower of Power (1951 - 2016)

Mic Gillette, brass player for the Tower of Power, Cold Blood and the Sons of Champlin, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack at the age of 65.

Emilio Costello of the Tower of Power wrote:

Today we are shocked, stunned, and saddened to learn that Mic Gillette has passed away. We are told that a sudden heart attack took him. Please keep Mic's family in your thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time.

"The Tower of Power family was stunned today by the news that Mic Gillette, our dear friend and bandmate going back to 1966, passed away. Mic was without a doubt the greatest brass player I've ever known. Our sincere condolences go out to his wife Julia and his daughter Megan and their entire family."
Gillette was a child prodigy, playing trumpet and reading music by the age of four, but he had a great influence in his father, Ray Gillette, who played trombone with Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and Stan Kenton.

By the age of 15, Gillette was playing both trumpet and trombone with an early version of the Tower of Power, then known as Gotham City Crime Fighters. For a time, he left Tower of Power to perform with Cold Blood along with another Tower member, Skip Mesquite. Later, the full Tower of Power horns played with the group.

As the Tower of Power's reputation grew, they began touring with the likes of CCR, Santana and Rod Stewart. They also scored their own hits with You're Still a Young Man (1972 / #29 Pop / #24 R&B), So Very Hard to Go (1973 / #17 Pop / #11 R&B) and What is Hip? (1974 / #91 Pop / #39 R&B).

Gillette also worked on hundreds of recording sessions both with and without the Tower of Power horns but, in 1984, he abruptly stopped touring and, to a great extent, playing, to be with his family. It wasn't until 1998 that he came out of his hiatus to join The Sons of Champlin with whom he stayed until 2006.

Over his career, Gillette also recorded solo albums including the children's album Newvo Kids and Ear Candy (both 2005). He also toured with the Doobie Brothers, Blood Sweat and Tears and Santana before rejoining the Tower of Power in 2009.

In 2011, he once again left the group and formed his own Mic Gillette Band.