Francis Rocco Prestia (born March 7, 1951) is an American bassist, best known for his work with the funk band Tower of Power.
Born in Sonora, California, Prestia started playing electric guitar as an adolescent. When he auditioned for Emilio Castillo’s band, Tower of Power, Castillo persuaded him to switch to electric bass.
Prestia worked with the band for the next three decades, before he became seriously ill in 2001. His fans and friends created a foundation in order to help pay the artist’s medical costs. On December 5, 2014, Prestia underwent successful kidney transplant surgery.
Technique and influences
Prestia is a master of fingerstyle funk, a technique in which he lightly mutes the strings with his left hand to get a percussive sound, with the pitch remaining clear and accurate. That characteristic sound, in combination with a highly rhythmic approach to bass lines, makes Prestia’s sound unmistakable.
Along with James Jamerson, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Jackson and Alphonso Johnson, Prestia belongs to a generation of musicians that fostered a revolution on the electric bass—inspiring the innovative work of Jaco Pastorius in the mid-1970s. Prestia’s influential style can be heard on classic Tower of Power tracks such as the 1973 hit “What is Hip”. Prestia cites James Jamerson and the different musicians who worked for James Brown (particularly Bootsy Collins) as his main influences.
Prestia’s primary instruments are his Fender Precision basses (a purple transparent American Deluxe and a natural ash-bodied short-lived signature model with a reverse split pickup and a 2-band EQ). In recent years he has maintained an association with the Conklin company that provided him a custom built four-string instrument, one of the few in the company’s catalog.
In January 2013, ESP Guitars announced that Prestia had joined their roster of endorsed artists. The company made reference to the introduction of their LTD RB series in May 22, 2014.
- Everybody on the Bus! (1999)
With Tower of Power
- East Bay Grease (1970)
- Bump City (1972)
- Tower of Power (1973)
- Back to Oakland (1974)
- In The Slot (1975)
- Urban Renewal (1975)
- Live and in Living Color (1976)
- Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now (1976)
- We Came to Play! (1978)
- Back on the Streets (1979)
- Power (1988)
- Monster On A Leash (1991)
- T.O.P. (1993)
- Souled Out (1995)
- Rhythm & Business (1997)
- Direct Plus (1997)
- Soul Vaccination Live (1999)
- Dinosaur Tracks (2000)
- Oakland Zone (2003)
- The Great American Soul Book (2009)
- Fingerstyle Funk (1993)
- Francis Rocco Prestia: Live at Bass Day (1998)