Grand Funk Railroad started rolling in late 1969 as one of the first bands designed to play stadiums and arenas. Their main attraction was guitarist Mark Farner's crude, blues-rock attack. His style derived from the guitar heroes of the '60s. Grand Funk came out of solidly working-class Flint, Michigan, to break ground for a new generation of rockers, and their initial success repelled the older, more bohemian crowd that had dominated recent rock history. They quickly became one of the most popular bands in the nation, and as they progressed, the trio became more accomplished and more succinct.
QUOTES FROM 1970-71
The Detroit Free Press, May 17, 1970
Grand Funk is the biggest rock act out of the fertile fields of Detroit. Ironically, their home town has yet to discover them. The guys live here but the $1-million they'll earn in 1970 will be for music made every where in the world but Michigan. The trio Mark Farner, Mel Schacher and Don Brewer. . . were full of pride about being from Michigan and being able to take Michigan music and show it to other parts of the world. Now? "We won't play there any more," Mark, lead guitarist, said. Farner. . . is a tough, indianlooking man with shoulder-length, straight-as-an-arrow hair. . . . With no apparent sadness, Mark added, "We have no desire to appear in Detroit or any other part of Michigan." That's a big change from the overpowering pride of just 10 months ago.
Bad vibes back home.
Trade magazines like Billboard Record World and Cash Box praised their recordings and show. But at home, nothing good. Creem magazine, a Detroit-based national rock publication, has twice slammed the Grand Funk and its members, artistically and otherwise. Don Brewer feels that in the minds of Michigan rock fans, Grand Funk is no more than a local group. And it is true that Frijid Pink, The Stooges and other Michigan groups still play the same small places at home that they did before they gained national renown. "We just feel bad vibes off everything in Michigan. It's not just the people we play for," Brewer said.
Mel's Million-Seller Without Grand Funk.
The first group with which bassist Mel Schacher appeared, and first won fame as a guitarist, was called Question Mark and the Mysterians. In '67, while he was with them, they had one disc that soared over the million mark. Its title:"96 Tears." Does anyone remember it?
On tour, Grand Funk carries along 75 trunks and 8,000 pounds of equi pment-including a 4,000. watt sound system and the group's own electronic cabling and portable recording facilities. Plus 20 full-time employees, as well as, sometimes, movie and TV crews. The boys fly to all engagements in a 727 Lear Jet.
TV And Movie Plans Revealed!
Being up there onstage performing for the people, or being in a recording studio getting your message out on plastic, are just two of the major ways that you can communicate with your brothers and sisters. There are, however, many other ways that a rock group can further increase their power and the importance of their message. What Grand Funk is doing right this minute to extend their message is to get what they do down on hoth video tape and on film. So, Boon you'll be seeing them both on TV and in movie theatres. Terry Knight, their managerproducer, has for months now been video taping what they do, so that when the right day comes for television exposure, Grand Funk will be there.
Grand Funk also are being put on film by David and Albert Maysles. Currently riding the success of their highly acclaimed motion picture of the Rolling Stones at Altamont, Gimme Shelter, the Maysles have work on a new film project in the rock medium. Now accompanying Grand Funk, the brothers Maysles are racking up miles of footage of the current activities of Grand Funk. Together with a nine-man crew, they have undertaken the massive assignment of documenting on film the phenomenal audience reaction aswell as the actual live performances of Grand Funk.
Don's Little Secret
For simplicity's sake, and perhaps to make it easier for reporters, it's usually stated that Mark, Don and Mel all come from Flint, Mich. Not true. Mark and Mel do. But Don Brewer actually hails from Schwartz Creek.
Grand Funk First In The Hearts Of Countrymen
Which music group is really 1971's biggest-and-hest? If you listen to the press, the record industry reviewers and the critics, it's Creedence Clearwater. Every top award this year, from these individuals, has gone to Creedence. If you're tuned" in to the people, it's Grand Funk. Proof? This red-hot trio blistered everyone in competition by placing a solid Number One in The New York Daily News' nation wide Readers' Poll.
Tens of thousands of votes were cast from every state in the nation. Whe the final score was tallied, Grand Funk had garnered a whopping 75% of the total vote as "Best Rock Group In The U.S." Left to split up the remaining 25% were: 2 Creedence Clearwater, 3. Jackson Five, 4. Led Zeppelin, 5. Three Dog Night, 6. The Who, 7. Sly, 8. Santana, 9.Chicago, and 10.Ten Years After!
THE REVIEW THAT HURT THEM MOST
(Let the magazine be nameless)
On Time, Grand Funk Railroad (Capitol ST-307).
One of the most simplistic, talentless, one-dimensional, unmusical groups of the
year. The drumming guaranteed to send you up the wall. Absolutely unbelievable.
RIGHT ON QUOTE
from the Shea Stadium concert promoter Sid Bernstein
"In the case of Grand Funk, it's not so much the idol-worshipping you had with The Beatles. It's more of an identification, a true loyalty - you could even call it an allegiance. . . . My god, I've just never seen anything like this in my life. And they say that Rock is dead."
WHAT NEXT? A CAMERA SAFARI?
On July 24 Grand Funk did a solo appearance in the 100,000-seat Yale Bowl. Manager Terry Knight scheduled them for a six-week vacation beginning the day after that. "But knowing them," he says, "they'll be spending most of their time off together like they usually do. They're very close-best friends, actually. I know Mark wants to get his farm and horses together and Mel wants to ride his motorcycle through Canada. Donnie's looking at some property next to my house in Nassau. "But, from what I've overheard from their conversations," Terry added,
"I really think they're going to go home just long enough to change clothes and then leave for a six-week camera safari in South Africa, together, just the three of them as usual."
Calgary Herald about the reunion 1996
The Hartford Courant
Fleetwood, schmeetwood. When it comes to '70s rock reunions, let us now praise Homer Simpson's favorite rock band. "The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner!" Homer rhapsodized on "The Simpsons." "The bone-rattling bass of Mel Schacher! The competent drum work of Don Brewer!"
Ladies and gentlemen, Grand Funk Railroad! Even Brewer, who seemed to get the least enthusiastic kudo from the cartoon character, is cheered by the endorsement. "I thought it was great," he says over the phone from his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home. "What better person to represent a Grand Funk fan than Homer Simpson?" Out on a tour that is coming to your town to help you party down , Brewer says he's been seeing Grand Funk fans all the way down to Bart Simpson's age. "It's like a class reunion," the drummer says.
One of America's first and most popular pre-metal power trios, Grand Funk Railroad hasn't performed as the original trio in more than 20 years. Since then, Farner kept the songs alive through his solo tours after he spent a stint in contemporary Christian music. Brewer went on to play with Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band before moving down to Florida. Schacher got out altogether, restoring cars and becoming a builder. Grand Funk reunions have been attempted before, he adds. "But it wasn't the right time. "But now with the resurgence that has come about with '70s music, young people who never had a chance to hear "I'm Your Captain' played live could come. "And then, of course, there's the people our age, who are reliving their youth and want to hear the music again," Brewer adds.
The reunion idea was pushed along by concert promoter David Fishof, who had witnessed the reaction Farner got during the last tours with Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band, when he played classic Grand Funk songs. It was Fishof, too, who came up with the idea of tying a Grand Funk comeback with a social issue, which he decided would be relief in Bosnia. Three benefit shows were staged, with a full orchestra and guest stars, and the Detroit date was captured for Grand Funk's new comeback, "Bosnia," on Capitol Records. Unlike other rock reunion projects, no new songs are included, but there's no shortage of hits: "Heartbreaker," "The Loco-Motion," "Some Kind of Wonderful."
Grand Funk began as the remnants of the Detroit group Terry Knight and the Pack, who scored a minor national hit with "I (Who Have Nothing)" in 1966. It was Knight who managed the new power trio, which really got its break playing the opening slot of the Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1969. "We just went on and blew them away," Brewer recalls. "We were shocked, too. Before that, nobody paid attention to the band or thought we'd ever be heard from again. And because we blew the audience away, we were invited to play Saturday and Sunday, too.
Word of mouth spread from there." Known for its energetic, hard-hitting performances, Grand Funk racked up nearly a half-dozen platinum albums in only a couple of years, becoming the biggest-selling group in America in 1970. In 1971, the band packed Shea Stadium in New York, breaking a record set by the Beatles by selling out two shows in just three days.
And by most accounts, they were also the loudest band on the developing hard-rock circuit. "Terry would go out to the sound board, no matter whose P.A. system it was, and crank everything wide open," Brewer recalls. "Nobody ever heard that kind of sound before. He didn't care if he blew stuff up. He'd make it loud. "The audience loved it," he says. "We were the grunge rock of that time period. We'd play with all this energy, bring the audience into it, and it was was an event."
An acrimonious parting with Knight at that point stalled the band. When they returned, they turned to the more pop-minded production of Todd Rundgren for the band's greatest successes on "We're an American Band" and "Shinin' On." But times changed again. "As disco came along, we tried to make the changeover," Brewer says. "It wasn't working for us; it was not working for Grand Funk fans either. So we thought: let's quit while we can here." Brewer is happy the currrent reunion is being done on such a high level. "It feels very good, very natural to be out there," Brewer says. "We're not having to play bars and stuff."
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
CP 1107ES 31-10