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The American Breed
The American Breed in 1968. L to R: Gary Loizzo, Lee Graziano, Charles Colbert, Jr., Al Ciner
|Origin||Brookfield, Illinois, United States|
|Past members|| Gary Loizzo |
The American Breed was an American rock band that was formed in 1958 and disbanded in 1970, later evolving into Rufus.
Rufus was an American funk band from Chicago, Illinois, best known for launching the career of lead singer Chaka Khan. They had several hits throughout their career, including "Tell Me Something Good", "Sweet Thing", "Do You Love What You Feel", and "Ain't Nobody". Rufus and Chaka Khan were one of the most popular and influential funk bands of the 1970s, with four consecutive number one R&B albums, ten Top 40 Pop Hits, and five number one R&B singles, among other accolades.
The group was formed in Cicero, Illinois as Gary & The Knight Lites. The founding members included Gary Loizzo- vocals and guitar, Charles Colbert, Jr.- bass guitar and vocals, Al Ciner- guitar and vocals, and Jim Michalak on drums. Early releases included- "I'm Glad She's Mine," "I Don't Need Your Help," "Will You Go Steady," "Take Me Back," among others. The group's greatest success as "The American Breed" was the single, "Bend Me, Shape Me", which reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. The song, written by Scott English and Larry Weiss, had previously been recorded by an all-female band known as the Shape and had been a hit on the British charts for the British group Amen Corner. It had also been recorded by The Outsiders after they had reached the top ten with "Time Won't Let Me" in 1966. Contributing to the success of the American Breed's version of "Bend Me, Shape Me" was the excellent arrangement of the song by the band's record producer, Bill Traut, who added horns among other changes. The group also appeared on the 16 December 1967 episode of the television show American Bandstand , along with Pink Floyd.
Cicero is a suburb of Chicago and an incorporated town in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 83,891 at the 2010 census. As of 2013, the town had a total population of 84,103, making it the 11th largest municipality in Illinois. The town of Cicero is named after Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman and orator.
"Bend Me, Shape Me" is a song written by Scott English and Larry Weiss. It was first recorded by The Outsiders as a track on their album The Outsiders In in 1966. The best-known version of the song is the 1967 single released by The American Breed that peaked at No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1968, No. 3 in South Africa and No. 24 in the UK Singles Chart.
The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.
On January 20, 1967 a freak snow storm that dumped twenty inches on Chicago changed the group's fate when Kenny Myers, former Senior Vice President of Mercury Records, found himself stranded and met with Producer Bill Traut in his studio at Universal Recording. After Traut played Meyers some of the band's tapes, Meyers was impressed enough to sign them to his new record label, Acta (a subsidiary of Dot Records, itself owned by Paramount Pictures, whose record holdings later evolved into the Famous Music Group) and suggested they change their name. "They told us Gary and the Knight Lites sounded a little dated", Loizzo told Chicago Tribune in 1994. "So we put a bunch of names in a hat and pulled out American Breed". The band's first single was "Ï Don't Think You Know Me", written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
Kenny Myers was an executive at Mercury Records during the 1960s. He later became general manager for a subsidiary of Dot Records. He also ran his own record label, Amaret Records. He left the music industry in the mid-1970s for the Regensteiner Printing Company. He is also a former musician.
Mercury Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. In the United States, it operates through Island Records; in the UK, it is distributed by Virgin EMI Records.
Dot Records is an American record label founded by Randy Wood that was active between 1950 and 1979. The label was reactivated in 2014 through a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group and the Republic Records unit of Universal Music Group. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the label was discontinued in 2017.
The band enjoyed its greatest success in 1967 and 1968. They released five singles that reached the charts, including "Step Out Of Your Mind", "Green Light", and "Bend Me, Shape Me".The latter track was their biggest seller, and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The track also peaked at #24 in the UK Singles Chart.
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by the Official Charts Company (OCC), on behalf of the British record industry, listing the top-selling singles in the United Kingdom, based upon physical sales, paid-for downloads and streaming. The Official Chart, broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and MTV, is the UK music industry's recognised official measure of singles and albums popularity because it is the most comprehensive research panel of its kind, today surveying over 15,000 retailers and digital services daily, capturing 99.9% of all singles consumed in Britain across the week, and over 98% of albums. To be eligible for the chart, a single is currently defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as either a 'single bundle' having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes or one digital audio track not longer than 15 minutes with a minimum sale price of 40 pence. The rules have changed many times as technology has developed, the most notable being the inclusion of digital downloads in 2005 and streaming in July 2014.
The success of "Step Out of Your Mind" allowed the group, originally signed for singles, to make albums and quit their daytime gigs to pursue music full-time. The band also found themselves in high demand in the lucrative radio jingles market, recording commercials for Coca-Cola, the American Navy, and Bell Telephone, among others. Their television commercial for American Airlines ("Fly the American Way") was also a big success in the top twenty TV markets and their songs were also featured on the soundtrack to the films No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) and The Brain (1969).
Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.
The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877, by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. The Bell Telephone Company was started on the basis of holding "potentially valuable patents", principally Bell's master telephone patent #174465.
American Airlines, Inc. (AA) is a major United States airline headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It is the world's largest airline when measured by fleet size, revenue, scheduled passengers carried, scheduled passenger-kilometers flown, and number of destinations served. American, together with its regional partners, operates an extensive international and domestic network with an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American Airlines is a founding member of Oneworld alliance, the third largest airline alliance in the world. Regional service is operated by independent and subsidiary carriers under the brand name American Eagle.
In 1968 the band appeared three times on American Bandstand and later that same year, Kevin Murphy joined as keyboardist and the band briefly altered the name to "THE American BREED" before shortening to "The Breed". Their next single, "Keep the Faith", failed to make the charts and singer Paulette McWilliams was added in 1969 in a move towards a more R&B funk sound on their next single "Hunky Funky", which "bubbled under" at #107. But the band was for all intents and purposes finished by then, though Loizzo briefly tried to keep the name afloat in 1970 with one last single, "Can't Make it Without You", which went nowhere.
American Bandstand is an American music-performance and dance television program that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989, and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as the program's producer. It featured teenagers dancing to Top 40 music introduced by Clark; at least one popular musical act—over the decades, running the gamut from Jerry Lee Lewis to Run–D.M.C.—would usually appear in person to lip-sync one of their latest singles. Freddy Cannon holds the record for most appearances, at 110.
Loizzo went on to open his own recording studio, "Pumpkin", where he worked on producing commercials and other groups, eventually receiving a Grammy nomination for his work with Styx. Colbert, Graziano, McWilliams, and Murphy (after a brief stint in the military) regrouped as "Smoke" and then "Äsk Rufus" (the name soon abbreviated to Rufus). McWilliams was later replaced by Chaka Khan and the band later scored their first Top 10 hit under the Rufus name with "Tell Me Something Good" in 1974.
The four members of "The American Breed" (Ciner, Loizzo, Colbert, and Graziano) briefly reunited in 1986 and recorded the album Once Again, featuring a new version of "Bend Me, Shape Me".
A compilation album, Bend Me, Shape Me: The Best of the American Breed, was released in 1994. "Bend Me, Shape Me" continues to receive airplay on oldies radio stations.
In celebration of the 2005 baseball championship of the Chicago White Sox, the American Breed issued a CD single entitled "Rock with the Sox". The single was produced by Gary Loizzo.
Since that first regrouping in 1986, the band has continued to make periodic reunion appearances at shows and fairs, mostly in and around their native Chicago.
Their lead singer, Gary Loizzo, died of pancreatic cancer on January 16, 2016, aged 70.
|Year||Album||Billboard 200||Record Label|
|1967||The American Breed||-||Acta Records|
|1968||Bend Me, Shape Me||99|
|Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green||-|
|Lonely Side of the City||-|
|1986||Once Again||-||ABM Records|
|1967||"Step Out of Your Mind"||24||26||—||Acta Records||"Short Skirts"||The American Breed|
|"Don't Forget About Me"||107||—||—||"Same Old Thing"|
|"Bend Me, Shape Me"||5||7||24||"Mindrocker"||Bend Me, Shape Me|
|1968||"Green Light"||39||29||—||"Don't It Make You Cry"|
|"Ready, Willing and Able"||84||—||—||"Take Me if You Want Me"||Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green|
|"Anyway That You Want Me"||88||—||—||"Master of My Fate"|
|1969||"Hunky Funky"||107||—||—||"Enter Her Majesty"|
Peter Brown is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. Brown was a popular performer in the late 1970s and early 1980s with hits that included "Do Ya Wanna Get Funky with Me" and "Dance With Me". He wrote, with Robert Rans, Madonna's hit "Material Girl".
Cyclorama is the fourteenth studio album by Styx, released in 2003. This was the first studio album with Lawrence Gowan, following the departure of group co-founder Dennis DeYoung in 1999. It was also the latter of two albums to feature Glen Burtnik, and the only album released by the Lawrence Gowan/Tommy Shaw/James "JY" Young/Glen Burtnik/Chuck Panozzo/Todd Sucherman lineup. The album peaked significantly higher on the Billboard album charts than Styx's previous release, Brave New World (1999), ending up 48 slots higher at #127.
The Steve Miller Band is an American rock band formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California. The band is led by Steve Miller on guitar and lead vocals. The group is best known for a string of (mainly) mid- to late-1970s hit singles that are staples of classic rock radio, as well as several earlier psychedelic rock albums. Miller left his first band to move to San Francisco and form the Steve Miller Blues Band. Shortly after Harvey Kornspan negotiated the band’s contract with Capitol Records in 1967, the band shortened its name to the Steve Miller Band. In February 1968, the band recorded its debut album, Children of the Future. It went on to produce the albums Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love and more. The band's Greatest Hits 1974–78, released in 1978, sold over 13 million copies. In 2016, Steve Miller was inducted as a solo artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cornerstone is the ninth studio album by the american rock band Styx, released in 1979.
Gary Lewis & the Playboys were an American 1960s era pop and rock group, fronted by musician Gary Lewis, the son of comedian Jerry Lewis. They are best known for their 1965 Billboard Hot 100 number-one single "This Diamond Ring", which was the first of a string of hit singles they had in 1965 and 1966. The band had an earnest, boy-next-door image similar to British invasion contemporaries such as Herman's Hermits and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The group folded in 1970, but a version of the band later resumed touring and continues to tour, often playing for veterans' benefits.
Strong Enough to Bend is a 1988 album by Tanya Tucker. There were three singles that made the Billboard Top Ten Country singles charts: "Strong Enough to Bend" at #1, "Highway Robbery" at #2, and "Call on Me" at #4. Another single, "Daddy and Home," rose to #27, while the album itself peaked at #9 on the Country Albums chart.
Underground Sunshine was an American psychedelic rock band from Montello, Wisconsin. The group's only hit single came in 1969 with their cover of The Beatles' song, "Birthday".
Rags To Rufus is the gold-selling second studio album by funk band Rufus, released on the ABC Records label in 1974. It reached #4 on both the Pop and Black Albums charts. It is notable for the hit singles "Tell Me Something Good", written by Stevie Wonder, and "You Got the Love", written by lead vocalist Chaka Khan and Ray Parker, Jr.. In 1975 "Tell Me Something Good" earned the band its first Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
The Del-Vetts were an American garage rock band formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1963. They released five singles and obtained regional success in the Midwest.
Kevin Murphy is an American keyboardist. He has played with The American Breed, which has a #1 US hit with "Bend Me, Shape Me" in 1968. He and fellow American Breed member Al Ciner are founding members of the band Rufus, which created the song "Ain't Nobody" that reached #22 on the Billboard charts and #6 on the UK Music Charts in 1984.
Stompin' at the Savoy – Live is an album by American R&B/funk band Rufus with singer Chaka Khan, released on the Warner Bros. Records label in 1983.
Rufus is the debut album by American R&B and funk band Rufus, released on the ABC Records label in 1973 fronted by singers Chaka Khan and Ron Stockert. The album is notable for an upbeat rock/soul sound that would be replaced by a more heavy direction into funk and jazzy-styled recordings.
Rufusized is the gold-selling third studio album by funk band Rufus, and their first album featuring singer Chaka Khan, on the ABC Records label in 1974, their second album release that year. The album peaked at #7 on the Billboard album chart the week ending March 1, 1975.
Gary Alexander Loizzo was an American guitarist, singer, recording engineer, and record producer. He is best known for being the lead singer with The American Breed.
Bend Me, Shape Me is the second album from the 1960s jazz–rock group The American Breed, released in February 1968. The album peaked at #99 on Billboard's pop albums chart, and the title song became the group's only Top 10 hit, reaching #5 on Billboard's pop singles chart in February 1968. The album and the single both went gold, and remains the group's biggest selling album to this day. The only other major hit single from this album was "Green Light" (#39).
Lonely Side of the City is the fourth and final studio album by the 1960s soul and pop group The American Breed, released in the fall of 1968. For their last album, the group decided to move more towards a soft rock approach. However, the group had all but fallen out of favor with the music public, and the album failed miserably. "Walls" was the only single released from the album, and, after releasing several more non-album singles, including the last official American Breed single, "Can't Make It Without You" (1970), the group officially disbanded, and later reorganized as soul/funk band Rufus.
Aorta were an American psychedelic rock band from Chicago who recorded two albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
William R. "Bill" Traut was an American jazz musician, rock music producer, manager and record label executive. He co-founded the Dunwich and Wooden Nickel record labels, and produced The Shadows of Knight, The American Breed, the Siegel-Schwall Band, and Styx, among others.