Friday, February 19, 2016

40 Year Itch: The Bad Boogaloo

Tower of Power : Down at the Nightclub

   On February 19, 1976 Rick Stevens, who sang the Top 40 hit "You're Still a Young Man" with Tower of Power, was arrested for multiple murders committed in a drug deal gone wrong. The confrontation over money lasted just a minute and when it was over three men were dead and Stevens was holding the gun that shot them.

 "It was all drug induced," he would tell SFGate 36 years later."They were loaded. We were loaded. I was doing heroin and cocaine - speedballing. It was sheer madness." 

  Stevens was sentenced to death but after the California Supreme Court declared the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional, his sentence was commuted to life. After 36 years in prison he was paroled in 2012. In January of the following year, he took the stage and performed his best known hit with tears in his eyes.

  "I never expected to have the death penalty overturned," Stevens told SFGate. "I had made my peace with my maker...I always kept close to my Psalm 51, and remembered that Moses committed murder and he rose above. Paul used to love to kill people, and he saw the light in prison. I made these people my role models. I patterned my life after them - not that alien lifestyle I was living - and everything changed."

   Psalm 51

 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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