OAKLAND, CA (AP) — Two members of Tower of Power, a group that has been an R&B institution for nearly 50 years, were hit by a train Thursday night as they walked across tracks before a performance in their hometown of Oakland, but both survived, their publicist said.
Calling it an “unfortunate accident,” publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement that drummer David Garibaldi and bass player Marc van Wageningen are “responsive and being treated at a local hospital.”
Bandleader Emilio Castillo said in a statement Friday that he visited Garibaldi in the hospital Thursday night, but he couldn’t see van Wageningen because he was in intensive care.
“Dave’s head and face were pretty swollen and bruised but he was lucid and expected to recover,” Castillo said. “Marc came through surgery well; his internal bleeding was stopped and they were waiting for him to stabilize in order to do further testing. The doctors were cautiously optimistic. We appreciate the responses and prayers from our former bandmates, friends, and fans and we all remain hopeful and in prayer.”
Garibaldi has been with the group since 1970. Van Wageningen is substituting as bass player.
Without identifying them, the Oakland Fire Department said earlier that two pedestrians were hit by a passenger train at Jack London Square about 7:30 p.m. and taken to a hospital.
The accident was near Yoshi’s, a jazz and R&B club where the group had been scheduled to play two shows Thursday night. Both were canceled.
It wasn’t clear why the men were on the tracks, but pedestrians often need to cross them in the area with trains running across and in between streets, including right outside Yoshi’s.
The Tower of Power, a band of about a dozen members, most of them horns, has been beloved members of the R&B and pop communities since forming in Oakland in 1968. The group and its rotating cast of musicians have recorded behind many far more famous names including Elton John, Otis Redding, Aerosmith and Santana.
They were also a national TV fixture in the 1980s with frequent appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman.”
Tributes and well wishes were quickly emerging on Twitter, including one from pop star and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted “Pleez pray for my frenz.”