Stephen 'Doc' Kupka

ASK DOC - May, 2007

The Funky Doctor answers YOUR questions


From Mark Mohr:

Hi Doc! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions from your fans and dish up a little Tower of Power behind-the-scenes trivia at the same time.

Have you ever thought about writing a book about your musical experiences?

You certainly have the background information for a darned entertaining read on the Bay area music scene as well as the genre-defining history of heading up the TOP horns. You've got a bunch of song titles that would make great book titles, too: "What is Hip? The Tower of Power Story" or "Bump City: Inside the Tower of Power", or "Willing to Learn: The Making of Tower of Power" or "Down to the Nightclub: Tower of Power." The possibilities are endless!


Hi, Mark. As we get closer to my 40th anniversary in Tower of Power, the thought has come up more and more. I would think that once that milestone is met that we might seriously consider moving on that. Also, an "inspired by true events" screenplay and movie would be a fun project and exciting possibility.


From Bobby Dowler:

Mr. Kupka,

What is the estimated time of release of this upcoming recording project, and were any of these new songs possibly co-written by the late Frank Biner (guitarist), who was part of the "In The Slot" album as a writer?

He used to do such tunes as "Mr. Everything", "Eastbay Hotline", "Soul Skate" (instrumental) etc. when with the Night Shift band.

Also, why does TOP not have a second guitarist (excluding Rocco on bass), one for lead and the other for rhythm? Frankie B. would have filled those shoes great for The Boys.



Hi, Bobby. Of the two projects I have coming up, Frank co-wrote two songs on "Doc Goes Hollywood" ("They Don't Make Them Like You Anymore" and "I've Made This Movie Before"). Most people don't know what a great songwriter Frank was and there are a couple hundred songs that could be touched up and recorded in the future. I feel it is my responsibility to keep his legacy alive. On "Bumped Up To First Class", we have Frank's last recorded song, "Public Truth and Private Lie", which originally was a dub, but since his passing, we constructed the music around it to make it a record. I miss Frank very, very much.

TOP is a ten piece band, so it’s hard just keeping that going.  But with that being said, I personally would love having a rhythm guitar added to the group, but unfortunately that probably will never happen.


From David Rome:


I have seen Tower Of Power at least 40 times (all in the Seattle area) since 1973, but the show that I have always wondered about was when REO Speedwagon opened for you guys at the Paramount Theater about '75 or so.

What a clash of styles. How in the world did they get on that tour?

David Rome
Tacoma, WA

PS - I'm on my way to see DoctorfunK tonight at Jazzbones in Tacoma!! I have their Strokeland CD and am looking forward to their next one.

I think you have it backwards. how in the world did WE get on that tour? Talent buyers and promoters buy packages which they think will work. P.S. I'm looking forward to any and all DoctorfunK CDs. I love that band. Thanks, David.


From Scott Seavers:

Hi Doc,

Growing up in the Bay Area, I have been a long-time Tower Of Power fan. I remember going to The Record Plant in Sausalito and hearing the band working on tunes around the time period for “In The Slot”. I remember a funky groove song with the words “Bring Home What You Earn…”.   As far as I know, that never showed up on anything. It sounded like a song that was ready to record and had been all worked up. 

Besides that song, there must be many songs that were written but never used for one reason or another. Do you know how many songs are in the can that weren't used and if there are ever any plans to re-visit those songs?  (Either re-work them or use them for a "lost Tower Of Power treasures"-type CD?) 

Thanks for the info and keep up the great work. Looking forward to the next project.

Thanks! Scott

Hi, Scott.  "Bring Home What You Earn" was co-written by Mic Gillette and he's planning on including that on one of his solo projects. There are probably twenty songs in the can and I would address Emilio on the Tower of Power messageboard as to when and if they'll be coming out. There is a tendency in TOP to not use old recorded songs on new projects. I don't know why that is, but it's been the case since the Warner Brothers days.


From Jim Stimpson:

Did you or TOP ever have the opportunity to play with Donny Hathaway? If so, or not, what do you think about him?

We never played with Donny Hathaway, but were big fans of his.  Donny Hathaway produced a Lydia Pense / Cold Blood album early in their career. Thanks for writing, Jim.


From Michael "Greasy" Parisi:

Hi Doc,

I think Andy Ebon mentioned before [on the Bumpcity messageboard - Ed] that Tower of Power is currently without a label.  Is it possible that TOP might sign to Strokeland?

Also, in addition to the new Tower of Power cover album, will there be a new album of original tunes any time in the near future?

(Oakland's own) Michael "Greasy" Parisi

Hi, Michael. Anything is possible, but I would doubt that Tower of Power would actually sign with Strokeland.  It’s conceivable that while Tower is unsigned that I would do a live album of Larry Braggs and the band doing Tower of Power’s greatest hits (songs that I wrote) as a live project.  That’s a dream of mine, but it would take a lot of effort to put that together.

As soon as we finish this cover album, we’re starting on an original studio album, for which, at this point, I have ten original songs to present.  The beauty of my situation now is that any song that Tower of Power rejects, I can immediately record on Strokeland.


From Bob Hanson:

I'm not sure this question qualifies for the site, but I am hoping that there is a way to obtain a copy of the Tower of Power Horns doing the National Anthem. I would be using it for High School Hockey games.


What a great idea. We should record it so that we can send it to people who request a copy. Thank you for the inquiry, Bob.


From Chris Burgess:

I'm having trouble locating a Berg Larsen SMS 130 for my Bari Saxophone. I would like to purchase one but can't seem to find anyone who might carry it for sale. Can you comment on where the best place to get this particular mouthpiece would be? Thanks for your insights and advice.

Chris Burgess

Hi, Chris. I had a very difficult time finding a Berg Larsen 130/1 SMS, but about ten years ago a fan had one and sold it to me. That was before the internet era, so I'll bet you could do some research and find one now.


Thanks for all the great questions and please keep them coming. Stay tuned for the release of "Bumped Up to First Class"!

Until next month,


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