Tower of Power bassist Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia has died, aged 69

Rocco Prestia
(Image credit: Clayton Call/Redferns)

Tower of Power bassist Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia has died, aged 69.

The influential funk musician had been battling various illnesses over the past two decades, and in 2014 he underwent a kidney transplant. He passed away in Las Vegas on September 29.

The Oakland, California band’s leader Emilio Castillo confirmed the news on the official Tower Of Power Facebook page, writing: “Our dear "Rocco" passed away last night, peacefully with his family by his side at a hospice in Las Vegas. 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.”

“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.”

Former Prince percussionist Sheila E was among the first musicians to pay tribute to Prestia, posting on Twitter: “My dear friend Rocco Prestia, u were my musical journey, playing bass w/ tower power ur entire life until u passed last night. U will truly be missed. prayers 2family & tower of power fam. God bless U.”

Inspired by bassists like Motown’s James Jamerson, Sonora, California-born Prestia developed a FingerStyle Funk sound mixing “staccato 16th notes, ghost notes and muted left hand techniques,” according to Bass Musician Magazine. Prestia and TOP drummer David Garibaldi powered the band’s hard-driving funk.

Garabaldi posted his own tribute to Prestia on his Facebook page: “My brother Francis Rocco Prestia has gone to be with the Lord,” he wrote. “I’m still in kind of shock with this reality…he’s gone. He was a one of a kind person and player, and was a gift. We had a magical, unspoken connection.”

All at Prog send their condolences to Prestia’s family, former bandmates and friends.