GRAND FUNK ON TOUR 1971
The nights they never forget
Sometimes in your entertainment, not too often, just once in a while, you can become transfixed. Maybe it's an exceptionally good movie. You sit there and ten minutes after The End you realize that your mouth is hanging open, so awed have you been by the performance.
During the early days of The Beatles' tours it was like that as far as rock and roll music was concerned. It was like that . . . or exactly the reverse. Audience reactionswere either rapt or riotous. But the emotion of being totally taken over by something, and responding to it in one extreme or another, simply overwhelmed every audience.
That overpowering emotional release isn't a thing of the past, isn't a thing that people recall nostalgically from Bogart movies or Beatles concerts. You might think that audiences today would be too sophisticated to jump out of their seats, to be charged up over a powerful riff, tobe torn by a beat that's too heavy to ignore. But you'd be wrong. 'Cause it's happening. Sure, audiences have had it all. Sure, it takes exceptional vibes to unglue their minds andthem from their seats. Just as surely, though, Grand Funk Railroad is the catalyst that is prilling the vocal chords of a generation and causing its members to react as spontaneouslyas though they'd touched an electric prod. Just consider the record : The Atlanta PopFestival. 125,000 people, rapt and near hysteria at the same time. The Texas International Festival,108.000 people simply cause of the GFR sound. Nashville, 30.000 people kept off the stage by a protective cordon of police, their adulation almost turning into static frenzy.Cincinnati, more of the same...
And this was all just at the beginning two years ago. A beginning that started Atlanta Pop Festival in the summer of 1969, a gig they played free because they were not a "name" group and wanted exposure a gig that made them, overnight, One year later when they were already a supergroup receiving $50,000 a night, they returned again to play the Atlanta Festival as a Thank You - for free. Audience reaction that time was, if possible, even more of an exultant roar than it' d been the year before. Does this happen at every Grand Funk date? It does.
Take, for instance, what happened not long ago in Los Angeles . For Grand Funk there have been countless performing nights of onstage "music, sex, fever, fervor,tempo and excitement," with predictable crowd responses But, that time in Los Angeles, that was something else . . .The concert was over, one encore completed, but the people, instead of heading towards the exits, were surging towards the stage. Grand Funk produce Terry Knight instinctively sensed that this was no ordinary scene. Quickly he raced down the long tunnel backstage to the hidden dressing room and directed his gladiator back to the stage to tame the situation.
This occurred at the second sold-out Grand Funk appearance at the Forum in L.A. The second sold-out appearance that had brought 18,000 believers together to witness Grand Funk. It was February 28, 1971. For Grand Funk it was just another day and just another event in the long string of phenomena that has made them the finest band in the land. It may have seemed so at the beginning, it did not at the end. Instead, it turned into one of those dates to remember forever. His clenched fists thrust high above his head
in triumphant salute, Mark Farner took a deep breath and shouted back to his people : "They didn't even do this at Madison Square Garden!" A roar arose from the crowd in reply a roar that had been part of the whole early '71 tour, which had seen Mark, Don and Mel perform ing in 40 arenas and auditoriums in less than 52 days. A total sell-out across the country. A total sell-out in advance which had grossed the band and their producer no less than $4-million. Even The Beatles' and, The Rolling Stones' tours of the mid-sixties couldn't compare with that. And that 40-stop tour was just one in a long list of tours and million dollar grosses that Grand Funk has garnered since they first sprang into existence.
Financial facts by mid- 1971 are already sufficient to substantiate Terry Knight's prediction that Grand Funk will exceed their last year's five-million dollars by as much as an additional ten-million. But the money isn't what it's really all about with these three musicians. According to them, it's just the necessary damnation that critics turn to when they throw up their hands in defeat after trying to puzzle out the real why of the group's unrivaled popularity. What, they wonder aloud, is the real reason millions of fans flock to hundreds of concerts just waiting to be touched by the trinity in person?
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (or)
"This train is bound for Glory,
Grand Funk Railroad?
Were they writing and singing about Grand Funk Railroad?
Not necessarily so, but suddenly the sentiment doesn't
seem so wrong - right?
Grand Funk RaiLroad has emerged as the most popular
American-bred rock trio in contemporary music history, with
sales statistics among the most spectacular in the entire
Ask the man from Capitol Records, the guy with the
broad grin, about their four million-selling Gold Albums
achieved within a four month span by a group barely beyond
celebrating its first birthday.
Their latest LP, "Live ALbum", released in mid-November,
is typical of the world-wide acceptance presently being enjoy-
ed by Mark Farner, Don Brewer and Mel Schacher.
Based on pre-orders of more than one million albums,
(the largest initial order for any one Capitol album since
the Beatles) this double-disk LP was certified solid Gold
on the day it was released.
And it all continues despite a coven of rock-music
critics who regularly and religiously seem to delight in
trying to find new ways to implore readers that: (a) it
isn't happening. (b) it shouldn't be happening, and;
(c) it may be happening but isn't really because after
all...", etc., etc., etc.
"We're underdogs with the press but the people
are with us all the way," says Terry Knight with a
casual shrug. He's Grand Funk's Manager and Producer.
"The people are all that matter to us" - period!
There's a response from the people who see our shows
and buy our records that the critics reject. We can't
explain it and we aren't even going to try. We'll leave
that to the so-called critics. We know it happens and,
frankly, we couldn't care less what the critics think
Tired of feeding the abuse, however, Grand Funk
Railroad recently enacted a counter-measure, one of
few indications they. are aware of the critical commentary.
The result - no more press interviews.
Writers, hereafter, are on their own when it comes
to trying to explain one of the most apparent musical
and sociological phenomenons of this decade.
Grand Funk Railroad carries on exclusively for
the believers, such as the 10,000-plus who filled every
available seat for the concert appearance in Anaheim,
California, one of the Flint, Michigan, group's rare
West coast visits. It was the standard SRO show
with every ticket gone weeks before the first printed
advertisement appeared to announce their arrival (the
appearance had been announced at a concert earlier in
L.A. and that was enough to swamp the ticket offices).
So, gloriously, Grand Funk Railroad continues,
with new tracks now being laid which will take the trio
on their first world-tour in early 1971.
On the tour itinerary are Honolulu, Sidney,
Melbourne, Aukland, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki,
Zurich, Munich, Paris, Frankfurt, Manchester, Liverpool
and London with additional stops being negotiated.
So next time someone questions you on the merits
of Grand Funk, simply smile and ask in return,
"Is that any way to run a Railroad?"
CAPITOL RECORDS NEWSLETTER 1971
DATE: NOVEMBER 23 1970
FR0M: TERRY KNIGHT
OFFICE: NEW YORK EXEC.
SUBJECT: SPECIAL SECURITY/GRAND FUNK RAILROAD CONCERT(S)
Due to the necessity o special security
precautions which are being taken to insure the safety of the members of Grand Funk Railroad and the entire production staff of the show, the Security division of Madison Square Garden has requested our fullest cooperation.
Therefore, I must ask the cooperation of all depart-
ments, includinq Executives and Department Heads, in observing the following:
In order for the Security division to operate
at its maximum potential in restraininq fans
from the immediate stage area, NO ONE will be
permitted entrance to the back-staqe or
dressing room area prior, durinq or after the
performance of Grand Funk Railroad regardless
of his or her importance to Capitol Records
or its associates. This will, of course,
also extend to members of the Press, Radio
The abovementioned restriction will be in effect during both the December 11 and December 18 performances.
NEW YORK/ALL DEPARTMENTS
PREMIER TALENT ASSOCIATES
BELDOCK & KUSHNICK, ESQS.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
No matter what the money scene is for Grand Funk, they haven't even got time to sit around and talk about it. The pressure is on Mark, Don and Mel to give full satisfaction to their audiences. It's an unbending pressure the result of having sold all those records and having sold-out all those concert halls. This incredible pressure begins early in the evening. A certain rush that is on from the very beginning of their shows when they step onstage for the first time to be greeted for the first time with the audiences' first roar. The pace accelerates as the show goes on. And before l the group and the audience together have achieved a high that mounts mercilessly until the group finally, exhaustedly leave the stage as they did at the L.A. Forum-only to have the
audience demand them back just one more time.
These are the moments that can belong to Mark, Don and Mel alone. Night afetr night They are placed in a situation wherethe hysterical, frenzied crowd, nearly physically incapable of asking for merely more, asks for ALL. As they did in L.A. And the band has to give it, wants to give, because they are the Grand Funk Railroad. The demand was really on that night at Forum. The roar almost took the roof off. The frenzy hadn't peaked some 15 minutes after the last set had ended-when Terry Knight decided he'd best make that dash for the dressing
room to urge Grand Funk to return to the stage.
The concert promoter tried to talk Terry out of it. It would end soon, he said. Bringing thegroup back onstage wasn't the answer, he inlistening carefully with his professional ear, could tell that the crowd's roar was of a more rational tone. These were no longer "problem" sounds, rather, they were the shouts and screams of adulation from the legions who'd be back for more the next time the group came to L.A. As Knight watched the crowd slowly begin to exit from the Forum, nearby stood the promoter who'd brought all the giants of music to Los Angeles at one time or another. And that experienced promoter, who thought he'd long since seen it all, was now shaking his head in total disbelief.
"I have never seen anything like it in all my years of promoting concerts, and I've had themall, The Beatles, the Stones, Presley--I've had them all," he said, still in a state of shock. Knight smiled and started his walk-much slower this time-down the long tunnel to boys' dressing room. It' s empty backstage when Grand Funk plays. No bizarre assortment of hangers-On. No groupies. No press people. So empty was it after this memorable concert that you could hear the echo of Knight' s steps. An echo that was a strange anachronism to the chant that had shaken the walls of the great arena less than an hour before . . . but that's Grand Fun ..and that fantastic communal excitement is what fans will hope for, and experience, the next time Grand Funk comes to town - anybody's town.