Rick was born in Port Authur, Texas, but didn't stay there long, as a few years later his parents moved to Reno, Nevada. Rick first sang in public at the tender age of four, when his family set him up on a chair in front of the congregation at their church.
Family influence - a famous uncle
While growing up Rick was greatly influenced by his uncle, singer Ivory Joe Hunter, who was his mother's older brother. There was always a great deal of excitement when Uncle Ivory Joe came to visit on breaks from touring around the country with his band. Rick decided early on that he wanted to be a singer, just like his uncle. Ivory Joe was a not only a ground-breaking performer in what at the time was referred to by the record labels as "race music", he was also a prolific songwriter with hundreds of songs to his credit.
According to the "Elvis Autralia" website, "While visiting Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1957, Ivory Joe Hunter was invited by Elvis Presley to visit Graceland. The two spent the day together, singing 'I Almost Lost My Mind' and other songs together. Hunter commented, 'He is very spiritually minded ... he showed me every courtesy, and I think he's one of the greatest'."
Ivory Joe Hunter's biggest hit came in the 1950's with the song "Since I Met You Baby". Click here for a YouTube video of Ivory Joe performing this great song on a TV show.
Rick's early professional career
Like many musically talented teenagers in the late 1950's Rick was interested in doo-wop, and he joined a singing group called the "Magnificent Marcels" (Rick is second from left). In the early 1960's Rick performed in nightclubs around Reno, where he was known as "Mr. Twister".
Pre-"Tower of Power" Bay Area gigs
Having moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-60's Rick continued his singing career, fronting various bands that played in local nightclubs. Rick's bands included "Rick and the Ravens", and "The Rick Stevens Four" (or Five, depending on how many people were in the band).
Rick joined "Four of a Kind" in 1966, initially in San Francisco, later moving with the band to Seattle. After a short time, Rick moved back to the Bay Area and joined a band called "Stuff", in which one of the other members was Willie James Fulton (guitar and vocals). Rick and Willie James left "Stuff" and joined Tower of Power at about the same time as drummer David Garibaldi.
Tower of Power
Rick joined the group Tower of Power in 1969, and with that move Rick's impressive musical career took off, his vocals pushing the band onto the national music scene. Rick sang the diamond hit, “Sparkling in the Sand” on Tower of Power’s first album, EAST BAY GREASE. The next Tower of Power album to hit the charts was BUMP CITY, and that record features Rick’s signature song, “You’re Still a Young Man”. The album also includes other hits such as “Down to the Night Club” and “You Got to Funkafize”, and remains a fan favorite.
Although he is not credited on the third album, the self-titled record, TOWER OF POWER, Rick initially sang all the lead vocals. He also contributed background vocals, which were retained on the record when it was released. The album features several hits such as, “What is Hip”, “Soul Vaccination”, and “Get Your Feet Back on the Ground”, and of course, “So Very Hard to Go”. The great Lenny Williams took over lead vocals after Rick left the band to pursue other avenues of his musical career.
Warner Bros. mistakenly released the version of TOWER OF POWER with Rick on the cover, and then pulled the album from record store shelves - after about 1,000 copies had already sold. Fortunately for the band, cover designer and photographer Bruce Steinberg was able to take a photo of Lenny at his first gig with TOP that would work for the album cover. Bruce hurriedly revised the cover with the new photo of Lenny, and in his haste, he forgot to remove the tambourine from the stage - which is why on the re-released cover with Lenny there are two tambourines, one in Lenny's hand and the tambourine on the stage, which Rick had been using during the show at which the original photo was taken.
Below is the original album cover with Rick, and at right, the photo that appeared on the reverse side. The third image below is a photograph of the album cover "press proof" (custom matted and framed). A "press proof" is a test printing, pulled off the printing press to check quality.
After leaving Tower of Power, Rick joined a Bay Area band called "Brass Horizon", a popular band with a big horn section. Below is an excerpt from the text of a 1975 Stanford Daily newspaper article about Rick and Brass Horizon. See an image of the article at the bottom of the biography.
The Stanford Daily - February 25, 1975
Former Tower Singer Heads Brass Horizon
It was "You're Still A Young Man" that established Tower as national stars, removing them from the realm of San Francisco funk forever. The song's amazing success can be explained in two words — Rick Stevens. Stevens emerged as Tower's lead singer after the success of "Sparkling In The Sand", the only song on the band's first album on which he sang lead...
... the excellent set performed by Stevens and his new band, Brass Horizon, Saturday at Yellow Brick Road marks the return of one of the finest vocalists ever to hit the City. The new band, Brass Horizon, is every bit as tight and biting as the famed Tower brass...
...Stevens proved that his voice can still get down and growl on dance tunes, as well as sweep up to carry the pure melody of "You're Still A Young Man". ... the fine Rick Stevens stage presence that on past occasions made Winterland feel as homey as a living room was evident Saturday. Smiling and jiving with the "mamas" on the dance floor, Stevens was clearly back in the atmosphere he likes best—putting out get-down, good time music. Rick Stevens and Brass Horizon continue at Yellow Brick Road through Saturday. (end of article)
Rick Stevens & Love Power - 2014
Rick has formed a new band, "Rick Stevens & Love Power", and is doing shows in Northern California.
Rick’s newest solo CD, “RICK STEVENS BACK ON THE STREETS AGAIN Vol. 1”, is available at his shows and also at his frequent special guest appearances. Vol. 2 will be recorded in the near future - look for it soon!
Rick has made giving back to the community a priority, and frequently performs in benefit concerts around the Bay Area.
1975 Stanford Daily article about Rick and Brass Horizon