Francis Rocco Prestia is an American musician, the bassist of 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, then 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, Tower of Power’s official website announced that Rocco underwent kidney transplant surgery. Successful surgery allowed him to rejoin the band for the Toronto Jazz Festival, June 2015.
Francis Rocco Prestia has built one of the pillars which support the modern electric bass. He is a master of fingerstyle funk, a technique that he interprets in a very personal way. Prestia 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 inventive melodic approach to bass lines makes Prestia’s sound unmistakable.
With James Jamerson, Stanley Clarke, Anthony Jackson and Alphonso Johnson, Rocco Prestia belongs to the generation of bassists that, a few years before, made possible the great revolution on the electric bass that Jaco Pastorius entailed with his innovations on mid-1970s. The influence of Prestia over the great bassist, that Jaco recognized openly, is clear on classic Tower of Power tracks as the 1973 hit “What is Hip”. On the other hand, Rocco 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 has joined their roster of endorsed artists. The company made reference to the introduction of their LTD RB series in May 22, 2014.
The new RB bass series has been a labor of love, passion, and hard work which has resulted in a very special lineup of new basses for 2014! The product team at ESP worked with bass legend Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power) for over a year to design and build an instrument that would not only become his own personal bass of choice, but one that would offer players unprecedented flexibility in tonal options. RB basses utilize unique features including Aguilar J and P pickups, Aguilar OBP-2 preamps, and gorgeous spalted and burled maple finishes in 4-, 5-, and 6-string versions.