by Sam Zukin
On Jan. 12, two members of the iconic American R&B band Tower of Power, drummer Dave Garibaldi, and bassist Marc van Wageningen, were violently struck by an Amtrak train. The accident occurred near the popular entertainment and business destination of Jack London Square in Oakland. They were coming from their hotel and scheduled to perform at Yoshi’s nightclub that night. Witnesses reported the scene as puzzling, as it looked safe to cross as one train had already passed.
“We were maybe two feet from a train that was flying by. We could feel the rush of it, which is why we kind of leaned back and moved away from the train. The other two gentlemen were not so fortunate,” Hae-Sin Thomas said.
The other train was actually a Union Pacific Railroad train that was heading north while the Amtrak train headed south. The witnesses also thought the two men surmised that it was safe to cross the tracks. No one on the train was reported injured and the two band members were the only ones hit.
“The double set of tracks make it particularly dangerous,” Joe Winkel, a resident of San Leandro who visits the park often, said. He also added that he found it incredulous that the bandmates could not hear the train coming.
The two musicians were rushed to Highland Hospital after Yoshi’s nightclub manager, Hal Campos, called 911.
The accident is currently being investigated by the Union Pacific Police. Garibaldi was treated for head and facial injuries while van Wageningen was treated for broken ribs, a concussion, and internal injuries and underwent surgery that night. While Garibaldi is in fair condition, van Wageningen remains in critical condition.
Tower of Power was founded in Oakland and has been playing since 1968 with Garibaldi joining in 1970. Garibaldi had left the band for a solo career for some time, but eventually came back to playing for the group. Van Wageningen was not officially a part of the band as he was substituting for regular bassist and longtime band member, Frank Rocco Prestia. The band is known for their hit songs, “What is Hip?” and “So Very Hard to Go” with the latter reaching number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy, led by drummer Tommy Igoe, played at Yoshi’s for a benefit and some of the proceeds are going towards Garibaldi and van Wageningen. Igoe has even created a GoFundMe for them that has raised over 40,000 dollars for their medical bills.
“They are truly lucky to be alive. Major, major medical bills await both musicians with costs that will surely be astronomic. Let’s all come together to help lighten the financial impact as much as possible and give our fellow artists support when unforeseeable tragedy strikes,” Igoe said.