The American Breed

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The American Breed
American Breed 1968.JPG
The American Breed in 1968. L to R: Gary Loizzo, Lee Graziano, Charles Colbert, Jr., Al Ciner
Background information
Origin Brookfield, Illinois, United States
Genres Rock
Years active19621970
Past members Gary Loizzo
Al Ciner
Charles Colbert
Jim Michalak
Lee Graziano
Kevin Murphy
Brian Parkinson

The American Breed was an American rock band that was formed in 1958 and disbanded in 1970, later evolving into Rufus.

Rufus (band) American funk band

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, Illinois Town in Illinois, United States

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 1967 single by The American Breed

"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 record label

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 record label

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". [1] The latter track was their biggest seller, and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. [2] The track also peaked at #24 in the UK Singles Chart. [3]

UK Singles Chart British singles sales 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 Carbonated soft drink

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.

Bell Telephone Company

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.

<i>American Bandstand</i> American music-performance show

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". [4]

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. [5]

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. [6]



YearAlbum 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


YearTitle US Can UK Record Label B-side Album
1967"Step Out of Your Mind"2426Acta Records"Short Skirts" The American Breed
"Don't Forget About Me"107"Same Old Thing"
"Bend Me, Shape Me"5724"Mindrocker" Bend Me, Shape Me
1968"Green Light"3929"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"

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  1. Bend Me, Shape Me also reached number 9 in the German charts; Ehnert, Günter (ed.): Hit Bilanz. Deutsche Chart Singles 1956-1980. Hamburg: Taurus Press, 1990, p. 15
  2. 1 2 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 215. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  3. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 22. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  4. American Breed- Once Again Retrieved 5-26-2014.
  5. Lounges, Tom (2005). "White Sox Glory Put To Song…". Midwest Beat Magazine. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
  6. "Gary Loizzo Obituary - Orland Park, Illinois". 1945-08-16. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2016-01-17.