Rocco Prestia - Tower of Power
Rocco is counted among the finest players and most influential people to ever pick up a bass. Learn about his new connection to ESP.
The list of truly legendary and influential bass players is a short one. It includes James Jamerson, Duck Dunn, Jaco Pastorius, Carol Kaye, Bootsy Collins, and a few others. But somewhere on nearly every bass playerʼs list is Francis “Rocco” Prestia, whom for much of the last 40+ years has made his mark as the bassist for Tower of Power. And, as of January 2013, weʼre very proud to announce that Rocco Prestia is playing ESP basses.
While there are thousands of excellent bass players in the world, few of them have helped define an entire genre of performance technique the way Rocco has done.
The connection between Rocco and drummer David Garibaldi worked well from the very start, with their styles meshing to create the template of a funk rhythm section that thousands would try and emulate in subsequent years. Along with their tight horn section, the sound of Rocco and David allowed Tower of Power to quickly grow in popularity, especially among other musicians.
The band had its greatest period of commercial success in the early ʻ70s, with songs like “You're Still A Young Man”, “So Very Hard To Go”, and “What Is Hip?” grabbing international attention and acclaim.
Entire DVDs have been devoted to explain and teach Roccoʼs innate abilities on the bass. As one of the acknowledged godfathers of fingerstyle funk bass, Rocco discovered on his own that lightly muting the strings with his left (fretting) hand provides a percussive sound with the pitch remaining clear and accurate. Along with Roccoʼs fantastic sense of melody, his sound is unmistakably identifiable.
As such, Roccoʼs influence over a whole generation of bass plays is undeniable. How does he feel about that? “Being a so-called legend, well, that's flattering and all. But believe me, I don't spend a lot of energy thinking about it! A lot of guys tell me, ʻI know all your licks.ʼ And I'll tell them, ʻThat's nice, now learn your own!ʼ My thing has always been to steal and incorporate, then take those influences -- Motown, James Brown, Memphis - to another level.”
Rocco and ESP
In Fall 2012, Rocco was talking to another great ESP bass player -- Pancho Tomaselli of War and PHILM -- and learned more about us and our instruments. We got connected and had him come out to meet us at our US headquarters in North Hollywood. After trying out our various bass models and being impressed by their performance, Rocco agreed to become part of the ESP family. We couldnʼt be happier; our basses have long had a reputation for great feel and tone, along with excellent design and construction that makes them roadworthy. Having one of the worldʼs most respected bass players on the ESP roster proves something that many people have known for a long time: ESP basses are versatile instruments that hold up for any genre of music.
At the 2013 NAMM Show in January, Rocco performed with Tower of Power at a special event held by the NAMM organization. Just days after the announcement of Roccoʼs association with ESP, he got to be the first person to publicly perform on our new LTD Elite J-4 bass. The Elite J-4 is a perfect bass for a master of funk like Rocco. It provides may of the features of classic basses, like a bolt-on neck at 34” scale, but then adds some of the high-performance features for which ESP is well known. These include a chambered ash body with quilted maple top, a maple neck/fingerboard, Gotoh tuners and bridge, Seymour Duncan SJB-1 Vintage pickup set, and ESP KH-1 active 2-band EQ. Controls on the very malleable Elite J-4 include master volume, balance, bass boost/cut, and treble boost/cut.