Grand Funk Railroad

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Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk Railroad 1971 publicity photo comp.png
Original lineup of Grand Funk Railroad (left to right: Don Brewer, Mark Farner, and Mel Schacher)
Background information
Also known asGrand Funk
Origin Flint, Michigan, United States
Genres Hard rock, blues rock, boogie rock
Years active1969–1976, 1981–1983, 1996–1998, 2000-present
Labels
Website www.grandfunkrailroad.com
Members Don Brewer
Mel Schacher
Max Carl
Tim Cashion
Bruce Kulick
Past members Mark Farner
Craig Frost
Dennis Bellinger
Howard Eddy, Jr.

Grand Funk Railroad, sometimes shortened as Grand Funk, is an American rock band popular during the 1970s, when they toured extensively and played to packed arenas worldwide. David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine once said, "You cannot talk about rock in the 1970s without talking about Grand Funk Railroad!" [1] [2] Known for their crowd-pleasing arena rock style, the band was well-regarded by audiences despite a relative lack of critical acclaim. [3] The band's name is a play on words of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a line that runs through the band's home town of Flint, Michigan.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

David Fricke is a senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine, where he writes predominantly on rock music. His career has spanned over 30 years. In the 1990s, he was the magazine's music editor before stepping down.

Contents

History

A Grand Trunk Western Railroad bridge in the band's hometown of Flint, Michigan, that was vandalized to instead show their name, as well as the first names of founding members Mark Farner and Don Brewer; and early 1980s bassist Dennis Bellinger. Grand Funk Railroad Bridge, Flint, Michigan.jpg
A Grand Trunk Western Railroad bridge in the band's hometown of Flint, Michigan, that was vandalized to instead show their name, as well as the first names of founding members Mark Farner and Don Brewer; and early 1980s bassist Dennis Bellinger.

Formation (1969)

The band was formed as a trio in 1969 by Mark Farner (guitar, vocals) and Don Brewer (drums, vocals) from Terry Knight and the Pack, and Mel Schacher (bass) from Question Mark & the Mysterians. Knight soon became the band's manager, as well as naming the band as a play on words for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line in Michigan. First achieving recognition at the 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival I, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, the group was asked back to play at the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival II the following year. Patterned after hard-rock power trios such as Cream, the band, with Terry Knight's marketing savvy, developed its own popular style. In August 1969, the band released its first album titled On Time , which sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record in 1970. [4]

Mark Farner American musician

Mark Fredrick Farner is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known as the lead singer and lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, and later as a contemporary Christian musician.

Donald George Brewer is an American drummer who is best known as the drummer and co-lead singer of American rock band Grand Funk Railroad.

Terry Knight and the Pack was an American garage rock band formed in Flint, Michigan in 1965. The band was signed to the Lucky Eleven label throughout most of its short recording career, and they produced one national hit with their cover version of the song, "I ". Despite their inability to replicate their success, the band was still a frequent attraction in the Michigan rock scene. The Pack was fronted by singer, Terry Knight. In 1967, the group disbanded, but two of the members of the band, drummer/vocalist Don Brewer and guitarist Mark Farner, would later go on to form another band, Grand Funk Railroad.

In February 1970, a second album, Grand Funk (or The Red Album), was awarded gold status. [4] Despite critical pans and little airplay, the group's first six albums (five studio releases and one live album) were quite successful.

<i>Grand Funk</i> (album) 1969 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Grand Funk is Grand Funk Railroad's second studio album and was released in December 1969 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight and engineered by Ken Hamann. This release was certified by RIAA with a gold record award, the first for the group. It includes a cover of The Animals' "Inside Looking Out" which is still a cornerstone of the band's live concerts today. Other key tracks include "Got This Thing on the Move", "In Need", and "Paranoid". The inside spread photograph of the trio, for the original album release, was used for the now infamous, $100,000, block-long and several stories high New York CityTimes Square billboard ad for the album Closer to Home (1970). It stayed up longer than the contracted time due to a strike by the painters union. Mel Schacher's "fuzz" bass tone gained as much prominence as Mark Farner's guitar and Don Brewer's drums and remained a co-lead instrument until 1972's Phoenix, when it was toned down slightly.

In radio broadcasting, airplay is how frequently a song is being played on radio stations. A song which is being played several times every day (spins) would have a large amount of airplay. Music which became very popular on jukeboxes, in nightclubs and at discotheques between the 1940s and 1960s would also have airplay.

Early 1970s

The hit single "I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home)", from the album Closer to Home , released in 1970, was considered stylistically representative of Terry Knight and the Pack's recordings. In 1970, Knight launched an intensive advertising campaign to promote the album Closer to Home. That album was certified multiplatinum despite a lack of critical approval. [4] The band spent $100,000 on a New York City Times Square billboard to advertise Closer to Home. [5] By 1971, Grand Funk equalled the Beatles' Shea Stadium attendance record, but sold out the venue in just 72 hours whereas the Beatles concert took a few weeks to sell out. [6] Following Closer to Home, Live Album was also released in 1970, and was another gold disc recipient. [4] Survival and E Pluribus Funk were both released in 1971. E Pluribus Funk celebrated the Shea Stadium show with an embossed depiction of the stadium on the album cover's reverse.

"I'm Your Captain " is a 1970 song written by American musician Mark Farner and recorded by Grand Funk Railroad as the closing track to their album Closer to Home. Ten minutes in duration, it is the band's longest studio recording. One of the group's best-known songs, it is composed as two distinct but closely related movements. Its title has been rendered in various ways across many different Grand Funk albums, including "I'm Your Captain", "I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home", "Closer to Home/I'm Your Captain", "Closer to Home ", and "Closer to Home".

<i>Closer to Home</i> 1970 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Closer to Home is Grand Funk Railroad's third studio album and was released on June 15, 1970 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight. This album reached RIAA gold record status in 1970, making it the group's third gold record in one year. The songs "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" and "Aimless Lady" were later covered by South African group Suck. "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" was also covered by the band Monster Magnet on their first full-length album Spine of God (1991), by former Dokken guitarist George Lynch on his 2004 covers album "Furious George", and by Gov't Mule on their album The Deep End, Volume 1 (2001). The album's inside artwork shows a live photo of the band performing at Madison Square Garden in February 1970.

Times Square Neighborhood in Manhattan in New York City, New York

Times Square is a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, entertainment center and neighborhood in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. It stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Brightly adorned with billboards and advertisements, Times Square is sometimes referred to as "The Crossroads of the World", "The Center of the Universe", "the heart of The Great White Way", and "the heart of the world". One of the world's busiest pedestrian areas, it is also the hub of the Broadway Theater District and a major center of the world's entertainment industry. Times Square is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 50 million visitors annually. Approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square daily, many of them tourists, while over 460,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square on its busiest days.

By late 1971, the band was concerned with Knight's managerial style and fiscal responsibility. This growing dissatisfaction led Grand Funk Railroad to fire Knight in early 1972. Knight sued for breach of contract, which resulted in a protracted legal battle. At one point, Knight repossessed the band's gear before a gig at Madison Square Garden. In VH1's Behind the Music Grand Funk Railroad episode, Knight stated that the original contract would have run out in about three months, and that the smart decision for the band would have been to just wait out the time. [7] However, at that moment, the band members felt they had no choice but to continue and fight for the rights to their careers and name.

Madison Square Garden Multi-purpose indoor arena in New York City, New York, United States

Madison Square Garden, colloquially known as The Garden or in initials as MSG, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in New York City. Located in Midtown Manhattan between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to 33rd Streets, it is situated atop Pennsylvania Station. It is the fourth venue to bear the name "Madison Square Garden"; the first two were located on Madison Square, on East 26th Street and Madison Avenue, with the third Madison Square Garden (1925) further uptown at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street.

VH1 American cable television network

VH1 is an American pay television network based in New York City owned by Viacom. It was originally created by Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, at the time a division of Warner Communications and the original owner of MTV, and launched on January 1, 1985, in the former space of Turner Broadcasting System's short-lived Cable Music Channel.

<i>Behind the Music</i> television series

Behind the Music is a documentary television series on VH1. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group. The program examines the beginning of their career, their road to success and the hardships they may have encountered.

In 1972, Grand Funk Railroad added Craig Frost on keyboards full-time. Originally, they had attempted to attract Peter Frampton, late of Humble Pie; however, Frampton was not available, due to signing a solo-record deal with A&M Records. The addition of Frost, however, was a stylistic shift from Grand Funk's original garage-band based rock and roll roots to a more rhythm and blues/pop rock-oriented style. With the new lineup, Grand Funk released Phoenix , its sixth album of original music, in 1972. [8]

Craig Frost is the keyboardist for Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. He is also known as keyboardist for 1970s hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad. He plays organ, synthesizer, and piano.

Peter Frampton musician from England

Peter Kenneth Frampton is an English-American rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, and guitarist. He was previously associated with the bands Humble Pie and The Herd. After the end of his 'group' career, as a solo artist, Frampton released several albums including his international breakthrough album, the live release Frampton Comes Alive!. The album sold more than 8 million copies in the United States and spawned several hit singles. Since then he has released several major albums. He has also worked with Ringo Starr, David Bowie and both Matt Cameron and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam, among others.

A&M Records American historical record label

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, the Human League, The Police, CeCe Peniston, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy and Sheryl Crow.

To refine Grand Funk's sound, the band secured veteran musician Todd Rundgren as a producer. Their two most successful albums and two number-one hit singles resulted: the Don Brewer-penned "We're an American Band" (from We're an American Band ) and "The Loco-Motion" (from Shinin' On , written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin and originally recorded by Little Eva). The album We're an American Band topped out at number two on the charts. "We're an American Band" was Grand Funk's first number-one hit, followed by Brewer's number-19 hit "Walk Like a Man". "The Loco-Motion" in 1974 was Grand Funk's second chart-topping single, followed by Brewer's number-11 hit "Shinin' On". The band continued touring the U.S., Europe, and Japan. [9]

Mid-1970s

In 1974, Grand Funk re-engaged Jimmy Ienner as producer and reverted to using their full name: Grand Funk Railroad. The band released the album All the Girls in the World Beware!!! , which depicted the band members' heads superimposed on the bodies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. This album spawned the band's last two top-10 hits, "Some Kind of Wonderful" and "Bad Time".

Although they were highly successful in the mid-1970s, tensions mounted within the band due to personal issues, burn-out, and disputes over musical direction. Despite these issues, Grand Funk forged ahead. Needing two more albums to complete their record deal with Capitol, Grand Funk embarked on a major tour and decided to record a double live album, Caught in the Act .

The double album should have fulfilled the contract with Capitol; however, because it contained previously released material, Capitol requested an additional album to complete Grand Funk's contractual obligation. While pressures between the band members still existed, the members agreed to move forward and complete one more album for Capitol to avoid legalities similar to the ones that they endured with Terry Knight in 1972. The band recorded Born to Die and agreed not to release any information regarding their impending breakup in 1976. [10]

However, Grand Funk found new life from interest by Frank Zappa in producing the band. Signing with MCA Records, the resulting album Good Singin', Good Playin' yielded little success. After this, Grand Funk Railroad decided once more to disband in 1976. [11]

Disbanding from 1976-1981 and new lineup in the early 1980s

Following the breakup, Farner began a solo career and signed with Atlantic Records, which resulted in two albums: Mark Farner (1977) and No Frills (1978). Brewer, Schacher, and Frost remained intact and formed the band Flint. Flint released one album on Columbia Records; a second record was finished but never released. Grand Funk Railroad reunited in 1981 without Frost and with Dennis Bellinger replacing Schacher on bass.

The new line-up released two albums on Irving Azoff's Full Moon label, distributed by Warner Bros. Records. These releases included 1981's Grand Funk Lives and 1983's What's Funk? . Neither album achieved much critical acclaim; but the single "Queen Bee" was included in the film Heavy Metal and its soundtrack album. After they disbanded a second time in 1983, Farner continued as a solo performer and became a Christian recording artist and Brewer went on to tour with Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band. [12]

Band breakup from 1983-1996; re-formation 1996 to present

In 1996, Grand Funk Railroad's three original members once again reunited and played to 250,000 people in 14 shows during a three-month period. In 1997, the band played three sold-out Bosnian benefit concerts. These shows featured a full symphony orchestra that was conducted by Paul Shaffer (from the David Letterman Late Show). The band released a live two-disc benefit CD called Bosnia recorded in Auburn Hills, Michigan. This recording also featured Peter Frampton, who joined the band on stage. In 1998, Farner left the band and returned to his solo career.

In 2005, Grand Funk Railroad was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. [13]

After this, two years passed before the two remaining members recruited some well-regarded players to reform the band. Lead vocalist Max Carl (of 38 Special), former Kiss lead guitarist Bruce Kulick, and keyboardist Tim Cashion (Bob Seger, Robert Palmer) completed the new lineup.

Grand Funk Railroad continues to tour and kicked off their, "The American Band Tour 2019", "Celebrating 50 Years of Funk", tour on January 17, 2019. [14]

Members

Timeline

Grand Funk Railroad

Discography

Studio albums

Related Research Articles

<i>Good Singin, Good Playin</i> 1976 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Good Singin', Good Playin' is 11th studio album by Grand Funk Railroad, released by MCA Records in 1976.

<i>On Time</i> 1969 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

On Time is Grand Funk Railroad's first studio album, released in August 1969 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight.

<i>Survival</i> (Grand Funk Railroad album) 1971 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Survival is Grand Funk Railroad's fourth studio album and was released in April 1971 by Capitol Records. It was produced by Terry Knight. Drummer Don Brewer was never happy with the drum sound on the album, due to Knight's insistence of having Brewer cover his drum heads with tea-towels, after seeing Ringo Starr using that technique in the Beatles' film Let It Be (1970).

<i>E Pluribus Funk</i> 1971 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

E Pluribus Funk is Grand Funk Railroad's fifth studio album and was released in November 1971 by Capitol Records. Like previous Grand Funk Railroad albums, it was recorded at Cleveland Recording Company and is the final album produced by Terry Knight. The title is a play on the former motto of the US government, E pluribus unum. The original release cover was completely round and covered with a silver-like film to resemble a large coin. The back side of the cover of this album included a die cast picture of Shea Stadium to celebrate Grand Funk beating The Beatles' Shea Stadium attendance record by selling out in just 72 hours.

<i>Phoenix</i> (Grand Funk Railroad album) 1972 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Phoenix is the sixth studio album by the rock band Grand Funk Railroad. It was released in 1972 on Capitol Records. The album was produced by Grand Funk and marks the band's first album not produced by Terry Knight. "Rock & Roll Soul" was released as a single and went to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.

<i>Were an American Band</i> 1973 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

We're an American Band is the seventh studio album by American hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad, credited as Grand Funk. The album was released by Capitol Records on July 15, 1973 and was certified gold by the RIAA a little over a month after its release. Two singles were released from the album. The first single, "We're an American Band", was released on July 2, 1973 and the second, "Walk Like a Man", was released on October 29, 1973. Both singles were sung by drummer Don Brewer. There is an addition to the band on this release - Craig Frost - who plays the organ, clavinet and Moog. Craig was credited as an additional musician on "Phoenix" which was released the previous year.

<i>Caught in the Act</i> (Grand Funk Railroad album) 1975 live album by Grand Funk Railroad

Caught in the Act is Grand Funk Railroad's second live album and was released in August 1975 by Capitol Records as a double album. It was recorded live on tour in 1975 and features "The Funkettes" — Lorraine Feather and Jana King.

<i>Classic Masters</i> (Grand Funk Railroad album) 2002 greatest hits album by Grand Funk Railroad

Classic Masters is a compilation album from Grand Funk Railroad. Released in 2002, it is one in a series by Capitol Records.

<i>Bosnia</i> (album) 1997 live album by Grand Funk Railroad

Bosnia is a live recording by the American rock band Grand Funk Railroad. The concert was a benefit performance for the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was recorded live March 1997 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

<i>All the Girls in the World Beware!!!</i> 1974 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

All the Girls in the World Beware!!! is the ninth studio album by American hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad. The album was released by Capitol Records in December 1974 and was the group's second album released that year. The first single from the album, "Some Kind of Wonderful", was released on December 16, 1974 and its follow-up, "Bad Time", was released on March 24, 1975. A Quadraphonic mix of the album was available on the Quadraphonic 8-Track cartridge format.

<i>Shinin On</i> 1974 studio album by Grand Funk Railroad

Shinin' On is the eighth album by Grand Funk Railroad and was released in 1974. Although not as successful as its predecessor, We're an American Band (1973), it peaked at #5 in the US and was certified gold, and its first single, a cover of "The Loco-Motion" topped the U.S. charts. The original cover was done in bi-visual 3-D and included the required blue and red lensed glasses to view it. A Quadraphonic mix of the album was available in the Quadraphonic 8-Track cartridge format. The title song was featured in The Simpsons' 7th season episode "Homerpalooza" on May 19, 1996.

<i>Thirty Years of Funk: 1969–1999</i> 1999 box set by Grand Funk Railroad

Thirty Years of Funk: 1969–1999 is a 1999 box set by Grand Funk Railroad, containing three new songs and several previously unreleased songs.

<i>Greatest Hits</i> (Grand Funk Railroad album) 2006 greatest hits album by Grand Funk Railroad

Greatest Hits is a greatest hits album by Grand Funk Railroad released in 2006.

Mel Schacher American musician

Melvin George "Mel" Schacher is best known as the bassist for rock band Grand Funk Railroad.

Grand Funk Hits is a greatest hits compilation by Grand Funk Railroad originally released in 1976 on Capitol Records (LP-ST-11579). It peaked at number 126 on the Billboard 200.

References

  1. "GRAND FUNK bio". Grand Funk Railroad. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  2. "Grand Funk". Rolling Stone (919). April 3, 2003.
  3. "Grand Funk Railroad interviews, articles and reviews from Rock's Backpages". Rocksbackpages.com. 1996-04-26. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 279. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  5. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 213. CN 5585.
  6. James (1999), pp. 15–16, 22, 37, 60.
  7. James (1999), pp. 31, 36–37, 76.
  8. James (1999), pp. 80, 83–84.
  9. James (1999), pp. 90, 92–94, 104–106.
  10. James (1999), pp. 113–116, 123–127.
  11. James (1999), pp. 130–134.
  12. James (1999), pp. 139–149.
  13. https://www.michiganrockandrolllegends.com/mrrl-hall-of-fame/75-grand-funk-railroad
  14. https://www.grandfunkrailroad.com

Further reading