By January 16, 2016 Read More →

Meet the Amazing Mic Gillette


Mic Gillette
By Chris Murphy (Originally Published Oct 2014)

We mourn the passing of Mic Gillette. Here is a wonderful look back at the amazingly talented man.

One of the legends of power horns will be performing in Modesto on October 18. This will be a special benefit show for the Center for Human Services and is an event you can’t miss. Tower of Power is legendary around the world and Mic Gillette is one of the founding members making the transition from a band called of all things, “The Motowns” to Tower of Power, with regular airplay on the legendary KSAN in 1970 with huge hits “You’re Still A Young Man” and “So Very Hard to Go”. Their sound would come to define a power brass sound and still dominates today. Mic was a musical prodigy and learned to play trumpet when he was 4 and has spent his years teaching music and raising money school music programs.

Mic Gillette has generously shared his talent with the Modesto community over the years and this show at the State will be spectacular.

We were fortunate to get a few words with Mic as he prepped for this show with the Mic Gillette Band.

ModestoView: Did you every think your love of music would take you to the forefront of the power horn music scene?
Mic Gillette: No, it was all about playing music and shaping it to be fun to play and hear. We played for us. When people liked it and encouraged us, we ran with the ball. For almost a year, I was the only horn in the band. Then I started building the horn section and the game was on!

MV: Tower of Power has become the “gold standard” by which other horn sections are judged, what made it so special?
MG: The strength and tightness of the horn section was truly the reason we chose the name. I am a strong lead player and when we added Doc Kupka on Baritone Sax, I picked up the trombone and this added to the breadth of our sound. In my humble opinion, there have been several other lead trumpet players in the band since I left who I consider to be much better than me, but as one of the original arrangers of the funk style, they don’t do what I did. I don’t mean to sound cocky, but a certain degree of confidence is what it takes to lead a section like that. That, and a whole lotta air.

MV: You started playing early and had a special talent, what do you say to encourage kids that need to work a little harder to stick with learning to play an instrument?
MG: First thing I tell them is to stop practicing. This normally does not sit well with their band directors until I explain my statement. If you want to get better at your instrument, you need to play a lot. But when you DO play, don’t practice, perform. Practicing is like trying, and as we all know, Yoda said there is no try. Do or do not. My take on that is when you play, don’t TRY to play, PERFORM! Play every note you play the very best you can every time. With this, you are always playing your best, and that becomes your standard. You won’t doubt yourself as long as you know you are always capable of playing your best.

MV: What was one of your favorite Tower or Power moments?
MG: Recording our Back To Oakland album (Time Will Tell and Below Us All the City Lights) with my Father, Ray Gillette at my side on trombone. My first performances as a small boy were playing by HIS side, and this completed a circle in my life. Ray was the best trombonist alive, I was told by many of the top musicians of his day. I miss him terribly but do my best to honor him with my horns, using all that I learned from him.

MV: What drives you to make all the efforts you do to share your gifts and to teach music?
MG: I don’t believe in “trade secrets” or hiding what makes great musicians so special. I think that is rude and selfish, to think that no one will ever be as good as them. I believe the next generation of musicians is supposed to be BETTER than my generation, and you know what? My generation ain’t so bad!

MV: If you could share the stage for a gig at Carnegie Hall with anyone, who would it be?
MG: My Father, hands down. That, no longer being possible, I would choose my daughter Megan to be at my side. The world is beginning to hear from her now. Amazing talent and sensitivity. And my hero.

MV: What do you enjoy most about performing for such a wonderful cause in Modesto?
MG: How could I turn down such an opportunity? Our band, MGB is breaking out right now, and the brain behind this wonderful show, Dave Boyatt, a true leader in his community, has the foresight and drive to include us in raising funds and awareness where it is needed most, on the home front. I really hope we pack the State Theater and all have a great time doing it!

MV: What’s next for Mic Gillette?
MG: Several very important things. First, we are in the recording studio recording our 2nd CD and it is coming along beautifully. Second, our daughter Megan has 2 incredible young boys, Maverick 2 years old, and Wyatt 5 months old. I am the happiest grandfather you will ever meet. My wife, Julia, Megan and I wish for you all to come join us for this special event – Mic Gillette

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