Francis “Rocco” Prestia, who performed with East Bay funk band Tower of Power for more than 30 years, died Sept. 30. He was 69 and was at a hospice center in Las Vegas.
Prestia had many health problems, and received a kidney transplant in 2014.
Tower of Power leader Emilio Castillo posted a Facebook tribute.
“As a bass player, he was unique and as a person, he was one of a kind,” Castillo wrote on Facebook. “He fought a long fight over the last 20 years and now he’s with the Lord and heaven is his home.”
Tower of Power was an integral part of Tower of Power’s funk style. His complex lines graced the groove on such songs as the 1973 hit “What Is Hip?” The playing spawned many online tributes from young acolytes who copied his style.
Prestia was a member of Tower of Power from its debut album through 1977, when substance abuse problems led to his departure. He rejoined ToP in 1987 and performed with the group until about 2001, when health problems derailed his live performances. Thereafter, he was an on-and-off member until 2018.
Born in Sonora (Tuolumne County) on March 7, 1951, he moved to Fremont, Calif. with his family. He auditioned at age 14 for Tower of Power as a guitarist, but was convinced to switch to bass.
Prestia had announced a new solo project earlier this year, but wasn’t able to complete the album.
He is survived by two children, Julian Francis Rocco Prestia and Alicia-Lyn JoAnn Prestia.