Doc Kupka

Doc Kupka's Biography

Stephen "Doc" Kupka was born in Los Angeles, CA on March 25th, 1946. His family moved to Berkeley, CA when he was 2. He started playing the oboe at age 12, and played throughout high school and college. Doc's first baritone sax experience came as a senior at Berkeley High School, when he played in the stage band for a semester. During his junior year in college, he had an uncontrollable desire to play rhythm and blues after hearing James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, amongst other soul singers and bands of the day. He then took a job as a roadie with The Loading Zone Band while striving to become proficient on the baritone sax.

Doc met Emilio Castillo of Tower of Power over the July 4th weekend in 1968. He had an audition with Tower of Power, was offered the job, and has been with the group ever since. Doc's first gig with the group was at I.D.E.S. Hall in Hayward, CA on August 13th, 1968. The group played an audition for Bill Graham at the Fillmore Auditorium during Christmas vacation in 1969, and shortly after received their first recording contract with San Francisco Records. Tours with Creedence Clearwater Revival and Santana soon followed thereafter. In 1972, Tower of Power was signed by Warner Bros. Records, which brought along two top-20 hits along with even more career success. In the late-70s through the mid-80s, the group slowed down. However, they were revived once Huey Lewis took the horn section out on 3 world tours between 1986 and 1989. Thank you Huey!

Since then, there have been hundreds of recordings and thousands of shows. Some highlights include: opening for Aretha Franklin, jamming with the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, touring as a horn section with Rod Stewart and Little Feet, as well as of course their stint with Huey Lewis. Some of the standout recording sessions included recording with Elton John, Linda Rondstadt, Santana, Aerosmith, and Huey Lewis and The News.

The most important part of Doc's story was becoming clean and sober on March 15th, 1989, without which he would not be in the band today. His 50th anniversary will be August 13th, 2018.

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