“On New Year’s Eve Tower of Power will be debuting their new lead vocalist Ray Greene. He’s an exciting soulful singer that was chosen by the band unanimously over all of the great singers that auditioned, and the whole band is totally excited to get started on a new era of Tower of Power with Ray Greene at the helm,” says bandleader Emilio Castillo. “We want to thank Larry Braggs for 13 years of phenomenal singing with the band. He’s been one of the best singers Tower of Power has ever had, and we wish him total success in all of his endeavors. Larry is a member of our musical family for life. 2014 will be a year of change and growth for all of us, and we’re all looking forward to it. As they say in the Olympics “Let the games begin!!!” A new era is about to unfold.”
“There is no way to express how excited I am for this amazing and wonderful opportunity to work with a band that has such a tremendous legacy in the music industry,” adds Ray Greene. “I grew up in Georgia listening to my father sing Gospel music. I would also hear the recordings my parents had of Sam Cooke, James Brown and Otis Redding. This music has left an indelible mark on me throughout my life and career as a musician. When I came to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music as a trombonist, one of my first exposures to performing in horn bands was getting to play a significant portion of the Tower of Power playbook. Needless to say, when I received the call from Mr. Castillo to join the group, I was excited, thankful and completely filled with joy. I have a profound respect and admiration for all of the great vocalists that have preceded me, especially Mr. Larry Braggs, who is the longest tenured singer ever to grace the Tower of Power stage. I look forward to carrying on the legacy and becoming a part of the ToP family. I cannot wait to share the gift I have been given with each and every one of you!”
At least 60 talented musicians have toured or recorded with the band in its 45 years and they have been featured with artists as diverse as Aerosmith, Elton John, Little Feat, Phish, Santana, Heart, and many others, forever infusing the radio airwaves with Tower’s musical DNA.
“Over the past thirteen years I have made so many great friends and relationships that have enriched my life in so many ways. It makes for this extended family of friends that will last forever. I know that my time with the band has come to a close. This is just a chapter in this fairy tale life you have allowed me to live,” says Larry Braggs. “From the bottom of my heart I want to say with everything that is in my capacity as a true believer in the universal path of brotherly love, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”
Tower of Power’s most recent release HIPPER THAN HIP LIVE captures the band at their commercial peak, fresh from releasing their fourth album, Back to Oakland, and featuring such key early tracks as “You’re Still a Young Man,” “Down to the Nightclub,” “So Very Hard to Go,” “Time Will Tell” and, of course, “What Is Hip?” with Lenny Williams on vocals.
What makes the recording particularly overpowering—aside from the band’s performance, which is so on the money that calling it “tight” doesn’t really do it justice—is that it was a live-in-the-studio session, so the fidelity is the equal of a studio recording, yet it has all the passion and immediacy of a live concert. This special package includes photos and liner notes by noted R&B producer, scholar—and long-time friend of the band—Leo Sacks.