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Passings: Rick Stevens, Early Lead Singer in Tower of Power

by VVN Music

Rick Stevens, the lead singer for Tower of Power in the early 70's, has died from liver cancer.

Stevens wife, Georgina, released the following statement:

September 5, 2017 - my beloved Rick passed away this morning after a brief struggle with liver cancer, surrounded by his loving family. For 41 years Rick was the biggest and best part of my life; I will miss him very much, and love him forever. --- Georgina Stevenson

Emilio Castillo, a founding member of the band, wrote:

"Rick Stevens went to heaven today to be with the Lord whom he loved with all his heart. Rick was an extremely soulful singer and entertainer who had an engaging personality and a strong faith which he shared with all he came in contact with. He sang on our first two recordings and his rendition of "Sparkling In The Sand" and "You're Still A Young Man" were timeless classics that set our career in motion. After leaving the band he did some things that caused him to be imprisoned for around 37 years but the Lord had other plans for Rick. I remember talking with him when he was released and I was skeptical about his "prison salvation" experience. I told him that I really hoped he would take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that God had given him to help people to avoid the pitfalls he had fallen into. He went above and beyond the call of duty and carried his message of faith and redemption to many. The first time he sat in with us, after his release from prison, was a "once in a lifetime" emotional experience for all of us. We loved him and we'll miss him. I have faith that I'll see him in heaven someday and together we'll worship and glorify God together for eternity. Rick is there right now enjoying it!!!"

Emilio Castillo - Bandleader for Tower of Power

Stevens was the nephew of blues great Ivory Joe Hunter which influenced him in the direction of singing. His early career was spent with a doo wop group called the Magnificent Marcels and, later, played clubs around Reno as "Mr. Twister".

Throughout the 60's, Rick was active in a number of bands both in Reno and Seattle.

Tower of Power was originally known as The Motowns when they were formed in 1968 by Castillo and Stephen "Doc" Kupka. Stevens joined the next year in time to participate in the recording of their first album (East Bay Grease) on Bill Graham's San Francisco Records with Rufus Miller on vocals; however, Stevens took the front spot on one track, "Sparkling in the Sand".

In 1971, the band moved to Warner Brothers and, the next year, released Bump City, the only album where Rick was the sole lead vocalist. His vocal on the single "You're Still a Young Man" ranks as one of the best ever for the band and went to number 29 on the Hot 100 and 24 on the R&B Singles. The followup, "Down to the Nightclub", also charted at number 66.

Stevens initially recorded all of the vocals for the band's third, self-titled, album, including such classics as "So Very Hard to Go" and "What Is Hip" but, by the time the album was released, he had been replaced by Lenny Williams whom Rick had actually brought to the attention of the rest of the band members.

In 1976, Stevens was addicted to drugs and fatally shot three men during a drug deal that went bad. He was eventually sentenced to life in prison and, during his 36 years incarcerated, embraced religion and got heavily involved in the prison education system.  He was released on July 20, 2012 and sang regularly with his band Rick Stevens and Love Power up until he became ill with cancer.

Here's a fan shot video of Stevens reuniting with Tower of Power in 2013.