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Tahoe’s Trey Stone leaves Tower of Power

Tim Parsons

A musician has to be tough to rise to the very top of his profession. Trey Stone received the toughest news one could imagine last week.

Tower of Power is bringing back its guitarist from the period of the funk band’s greatest hits, Bruce Conte. Stone’s final show with the band was at Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, May 27.

“It never ceases to amaze me some of the stuff I’ve been through in the music business,” Stone said from his South Lake Tahoe home on Friday. “The music business is not the nicest business. You’ve got to have thick skin.”

Stone played 38 shows over three months with Tower of Power. He will continue playing at Tahoe with the Trey Stone Band.

“Emilio (Castillo, the group’s leader) gave me the call Monday and said Bruce Conte was coming back,” Stone said. “He’s a fine guitarist. He’s the one who had the signature licks on most of the songs they wrote. There’s not much I can say to that.”

Conte is the third member from the band’s most successful recording period to return in recent years to the group.

Conte and his cousin Victor, who played bass, were fired from the band in 1979 because of Victor Conte’s meddling with the group’s affairs, Castillo confirmed. Victor Conte recently finished a prison sentence for his role in the BALCO steroids scandal in the Bay Area.

Castillo and Bruce Conte are close.

“We became friendly in the early 90s when we attended the same meetings working on our sobriety,” Castillo said. “It gave us kind of a kinship and we’ve been friends for a long time.”

Conte is the guitar player on the hit songs “What Is Hip?,” “Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of a Stream” and “Squib Cakes.”

“He is playing better than he ever has and his been sober for something like 16 years,” Castillo said. “Now we have 50 percent of our original band members back.”

Castillo has overseen dozens of personnel changes. He said this one was difficult.

“The toughest thing is that Trey is a really great guy,” Castillo said. “I really enjoyed being with him. He’s an incredibly talented player.”

Stone exited with dignity.

“I did my best,” Stone said. “I’ll move forward and let them reclaim their glory from their glory days.

“I am now among a lot of people who have been through this band and it’s quite the ensemble. These are dynamite players. It’s an honor to be on that list. Of course it’s a sad day that I have to move over. … As a professional I will step aside and not whine about it.”


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