“I always told myself and others that when it’s time to leave that I would know… My body told me. My body told me and I listened” - Drummer David Garibaldi announces he has left Tower of Power

David Garibaldi
(Image credit: Future)

David Garibaldi, longstanding drummer of hugely influential funk band Tower of Power has announced his departure from the band, effective immediately.

Garibaldi, 77, broke the news via a statement posted to the band’s social media channels, explaining that the band’s heavy touring schedule — spending 180 days of 2023 on the road — has begun to take its toll.

“I always told myself and others that when it's time to leave the Million Gig March, that I would know. Well, that happened last July as we were nearing the end of our European tour. 

“My body told me. My body told me and I listened. By the time I got home from last year’s touring on December 18, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I had enough.” 

Showing gratitude for his time in Tower of Power, Garibaldi goes on to note that the band has been his “school” throughout his on-off tenure with the band. He adds that while he’s leaving ToP, he’s not packing up his stick bag entirely.

“Truth be told, I love my TOP brothers. Everything I know about how to be in a band, I learned there. It’s been my life and my school. I’ve never wanted to be in any other band. For me, this has been a mountaintop experience. What blessing it has been. 

“So…what will I do? The first thing was unpacking my bags, then very soon, my wife and I are headed somewhere to get sun and relax, then I’ll come home and get after things again. 

“There’s always lots to do. By no means am I “retired”…I’m just not on the tour bus. I’m very much looking forward to see what’s next! God bless you all and I hope to update you again soon.”

Drummers including Thomas Pridgen, Shiela E, Lettuce's Adam Deitch took to the comments section on Instagram to pay homage to Garibaldi, with The Roots' Questlove writing, "Sir. You have changed all of our lives. You taught us the scrolls, we (I) will share the recipes and do you proud. You are literally the best."

Garibaldi’s work with Tower of Power, in addition to his educational drum output in the form of books and DVDs, sees him ranked as one of the most influential funk drummers of all time via his distinctive linear style, tight pocket and crisp, articulate drum sound.   

David Garibaldi joined Tower of Power in 1970, after completing three years of training in the US Air Force. He left the band in the mid-70s, before rejoining and subsequently leaving in 1980. During his time away from Tower of Power, Garibaldi recorded with artists including Roy Buchanan, Deniece Williams, Natalie Cole, larry Carlton, the Yellowjackets and more.

In 1998, Garibaldi returned to Tower of Power, telling Drum magazine, “I mean, getting back into the band was difficult, from the standpoint that I was playing a whole different way. I hadn’t played this kind of music in a long, long time.

“Tower’s really the only place you can play this kind of music and play this way. So it’s taken me a couple of months to get back into the way that I used to approach things and kind of reassemble my concept for this music.”

Garibaldi remained with Tower of Power until now, having a close-call in 2017 when he and ToP’s bassist, Marc van Wageningen — at the time depping for the now late Rocco Prestia — were hit by a train in Jack London Square, Oakland.

Garibaldi told Drumeo in 2022,  “Marc, our bass player and I had finished a pre-show dinner and were walking over to the venue. There was a westbound train passing by, so we went to the corner to wait to cross the street…At the crosswalk, people were gathering behind us.

“We watched the westbound train pass and heard the ding ding ding of the crossing signal indicating it was safe to use the pedestrian crosswalk. Then everyone started moving. Marc and I were at the front of the group and continued our conversation as we began to cross the street.

“As we stepped onto the eastbound track, someone behind us yelled “train!” and everyone started to scatter. We looked to our left, and there it was coming out of the shadows, the sound masked by the westbound train.

“We looked at each other and I moved backward. Marc moved forward. As my wife says, we weren’t fast enough. That was it. Everything went black.”

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.