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 church.
When Rick was growing up he 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, and 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. Ivory Joe Hunter's biggest hit came in the 1950's with the song "Since I Met You Baby".
Early professional career
Like many musically minded teenagers in the late 1950's Rick was interested in doo-wop, and he joined a singing group called the "Magnificent Marcels". In the early 1960's Rick performed in nightclubs around Reno, where he was known as "Mr. Twister".
Rick moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and continued his singing career, fronting various bands that played in local nightclubs. He was performing at a club called "The Condor" as "Don Stevenson and the Marvelles" (Don Stevenson being his real name) and one day the club manager told him, "You don't look like a 'Don', you look like a 'Rick'". So Don became 'Rick', and he shortened his last name to Stevens.
Pre-"Tower of Power" gigs
With his new moniker, Rick's next band was called "Rick and the Ravens", followed by "The Rick Stevens Four" (or Five, depending on many people were in the band). Rick then became a member of "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 Tower of Power in 1970, as a back-up vocalist to lead singer Rufus Miller. Rick contributed back-up vocals on all but one of the songs on Tower's first album, "East Bay Grease". The exception is the song "Sparkling in the Sand", on which Rick traded lead vocals with Rufus. Rick became the lead singer when Rufus left, and the second album, "Bump City" showcases Rick's lead vocals on all but one of the songs. Of course, the biggest hit on that album was "You're Still a Young Man", and to this day Tower of Power still closes every show with an encore featuring that song.
Rick recorded the lead vocals, as well as back-up vocals, for the third album, "Tower of Power", but personal differences made Rick decide to leave the band before the record was released in 1973. Rick introduced Lenny Williams to the band before leaving, and it is Lenny's lead vocals on the album. Although not credited on the album cover, Rick's back-up vocals were retained on the recording.
After Tower of Power
After he left TOP, Rick joined a band called Brass Horizon, which later changed it's name to "The All American Band". By 1976 Rick's drug addiction had spiraled out of control, and he found himself in a desperate situation, owing money to drug dealers that he was unable to pay. The dealers threatened to kill Rick and to harm his family, and they severely beat one of his friends. Rick took a gun for self-protection and met with the dealers, to tell them to leave his friends and family alone. However, the meeting turned violent when one of the dealers tried to grab Rick's gun and turn it around towards Rick - in the struggle for control of the gun it went off and the dealer was killed. In subsequent confrontations, fearing for his life Rick shot and killed two more drug dealers. Rick was convicted of manslaughter for the first shooting, and 1st degree murder for the other two shootings, and was sent to prison with a sentence of 7-years-to-life.
Rick was a model prisoner, and during his incarceration he kicked the drugs "cold turkey", participated in counseling groups, attended college level classes, worked in clerical jobs, and sang in music programs and at religious services. Rick also performed music shows for inmates and staff, mentoring inmate musicians along the way. After 36 years of incarceration Rick was released on July 20, 2012, a hard-won freedom that was accomplished through Rick's tireless efforts, and the staunch support of family, friends and fans. Of special note is the excellent work and dedicated effort of Rick's attorney, Peter Boldin.
Rick plans to sing professionally again, and is reaching out to his network of friends and colleagues in the music business to make that dream a reality.
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