Life was a blur for Emilio Castillo when his band, Tower of Power, was emerging during the late 1960s and early ’70s as an eclectic act creating an eclectic mix of funk, soul, R&B and pop.
“It was a crazy time,” Castillo said while calling from his Phoenix home. “We were out-of-our-minds crazy, but I remember playing Coeur d’Alene often since it’s so beautiful there.
“I remember playing this place, El Patio, six to 10 times. Every time I come back to the Pacific Northwest, I think of that period and those shows in Coeur d’Alene.”
Tower of Power racked up a number of hits during the early 1970s, such as “You’re Still a Young Man,” “What is Hip” and “So Very Hard to Go.”
At that time, Tower of Power, which will perform Friday at the Fox, was also a highly sought after backing horn ensemble, which recorded with Elton John, Santana and Bonnie Raitt.
“It was an incredible time,” Castillo said. “But I don’t remember all of it, since I made every mistake known to man, but I sobered up in 1988 and life became much better.”
Castillo has said goodbye to the bottle and, nearly 20 years later, embraced Christianity.
“I came to Jesus Christ in 2004,” Castillo said. “I didn’t want to know about God, but I became a believer and my life has become so much better.”
Castillo, 73, still has the music. The band’s sonic potpourri remains resonant.
“I don’t know why that is since we don’t have hits like Mariah Carey or the Doobie Brothers,” Castillo said. “Those kinds of recording artists hit the top of the charts. We never rang the bell at No. 1. But we still got airplay and I appreciate that.
“I can’t explain why our songs have that timeless quality. We’re just fortunate to have that since people still come out to experience our music. When we perform it’s always interesting since we have so much to choose from when it comes to our set list.”
Tower of Power has recorded 19 studio albums. How the band has balanced recording its own material and myriad sessions is quite an accomplishment.
“We’ve always been able to work both sides of the fence without a problem,” Castillo said. “We’re good at working in the studio with other artists. That’s a breeze. It’s a feather in our cap.
“What most people don’t know is that it doesn’t take us long to knock something out. We obviously spend more time on our own music. It’s our passion.”
That passion is evident when Tower of Power, which will deliver the hits and holiday favorites at the Fox, performs live.
Even though the band has been on the road since the Flower Power era, Castillo and his mates deliver their material with considerable energy and enthusiasm.
“We still got very excited about each show we do,” Castillo said. “We never just go through the motions and present our songs like it’s a nostalgia show.
“We also never get tired of playing the old favorites. It still feels fresh to us.”
Castillo and saxophonist Stephen “Doc” Kupka are the band’s lone original members. There are more than 65 former members of Tower of Power.
“But we keep it going,” Castillo said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to find a way. I hope we continue to keep Tower of Power alive for a number of years.
“We’re still looking forward.”
But Castillo also can’t help but look back.
“That’s even so with my memory,” Castillo cracked.
No one can blame Castillo for waltzing down memory lane since his experiences are extraordinary.
“There are so many incredibly cool things that have happened to us,” Castillo said. “I remember when we opened for Aretha Franklin when she recorded her ‘Live at Fillmore West’ album (in 1971). I was standing by the stage door and Aretha had to squeeze by me and she said, ‘Tower of Power, my favorite band.’ It was incredible since I idolized her.
“When we opened for James Brown, we played our song ‘Diggin’ on James Brown’ and he said that he loved that song. It just blew me away.
“We also played with Carlos Santana, which is one of my most favorite memories. I could go on and on. It’s been that kind of career and the cool thing is that we’re still doing it.
“Who knows what cool thing will happen next?”
Perhaps a session and some live dates with Sting will become a reality.
“I was backstage with (vocalist-guitarist) Robert Cray a couple of years ago and Sting was there,” Castillo said. “When we were introduced, Sting said, ‘Oh, I used to have a Tower of Power clone band.’ I would love to record ‘Don’t Change Horses (in the Middle of a Stream)’ with him.
“How cool would that sound?”