TERRY KNIGHT IS BREAKING THE SILENCE
Until now, Grand Funk fans only had knowledge of the bands side of the story, concerning the split between Terry Knight (manager) and the group back in 1971. Since Terry chosed not to comment the following lawsuite, it was hard to view the case from differrent angles. Anyway, the judgement from the fans has always been quiet clear: - Terry is just a greedy businessman, who used the groups innocence for his own purposes....- Terry has been nicknamed as "Terry The Scumbag Knight"....and so on. A hated man for decades!
It was during the "VH-1 Behind The Music" interview in 1999, when Terry officially broke the silence for the first time. Recently followed by a very detailed interview in "Discovery Magazine" (Feb 2000), an interesting document for sure, which brings light over some dark spots in the story of "The rise and fall of Grand Funk Railroad".
Reading the article lead to the following (personal) conclusions:
There where problems with the relationship between Terry and Mark from the very beginning. Terry was the frontman and lead singer in Terry Knight and the Pack. Mark had the same ambition. Mark and Terry are two different personalities. Terry is a coldhearted businessman, getting along good with Don, who is a combinated artist/businessman. Mark, on the contrary, is a bohemic, sensitive person with strong drives and idealistic ideas about life, music and religion. So, in the bottom, there is a chemical problem. You can still judge Terry Knight hard for being greedy, but on the other hand, Mark, Don & Mel were far too blue-eyed back in the beginning. Knight has the highest thoughts about himself for creating GFR, and to build up the hype. He tells us about the short studio recording sessions and the lack of skill and quality from the band.....
The whole story sucks. Terry settled for the lawsuite dollars and gave up the music business. The band went on and had great success on their own - but Terry gets most of the money anyway. Terry has just one good point in his story - an advise to the band: - "Get over it", - "Don't ramble on about old times" - look forward!, is his message.
We all hope that they overcome both the "bad days" and the latest split, because: - WE WANNA SEE The Original GRAND FUNK ON STAGE AGAIN!
HOW THE STORY BEGAN...
Manager Terry Knight Story (1970)
Terry Knight is more than just the manager and producer of Grand Funk Railroad. He gave them their name it was a phrase in a song he wrote; he masterminded their success and guided them through infinite obstacles and world-wide fame in the space of two years; he travels everywhere with them and works with them on all aspects of their career.
Knight is as important a component of Grand Funk Railroad as any of the three onstage members. Therefore, probably the least surprised person when word arrived that Grand Funk Railroad was about to receive its second Gold album in less than two, months, for their chart hugging Closer To Home, was Terry Knight. He wasn't much more surprised when word came in that Survival had sold a million dollars worth as soon as released. It wasn't immodesty on his part, rather the kind of confidence that comes from anticipating the public's musical appetite, then providing for it like some supermarket-of-preferred-sound.
Terry Knight's ability to judge tastes and trends even before the supposed arbiters are wise to what's happening, forms a major part of the expertise he's brought to the industry. He's a man of many roles and immensely successful in all of them. Grand Funk is only the current sign.
For Terry Knight it all began in Detroit. He was one of the city's most popular and youngest disc jockeys, working nights on radio station CKLW when he announced his resignation from radio to go into the pop music business. Thousands of loyal teenagers wept openly at the news. "I just had it up to here," says Terry, "I knew I had to get out before my name was added to the 'whateverhappened-to' list" After several false starts and big problems, Terry went out on his own, covering the country for a year or so singing his own songs. "I could never learn all the words to somebody else's songs," he said.
Ultimately, though, with little work and less money, a discouraged Terry returned to Michigan and to radio. "That really brought me down," he says, looking back. But in a few months a fellow disc jockey invited Terry to listen to a local group that was beginning to cause quite a sensation. "The very next day," says Terry, "I called a meeting and asked them if they'd like to form a totally new group. And that was the birth of Terry Knight And The Pack." .
For the next year, Terry lived in a $12-a-week attic apartment in Flint, trying to make ends meet and working nightly with the Pack. The group gained steadily in popularity, and one day late in 1965, a record producer from Detroit heard them and signed them on the spot. Their first record, "The Tears Come Rollin' ", was a real flop, but it broke the ice. The Pack was invited to appear regularly on a Cleveland television show, and after a few more false starts they hit on a song which had been recorded by the Yardbirds, "Better Man Than I," which rocketed them to stardom. Within weeks the boys made the charts, bookings flooded in, and Cameo-Parkway Records offered them a contract. They signed_and more hits followed: "A Change On The Way," "This Precious Time," "Love, Love, Love," and their biggest hit of all, "I Who Have Nothing." .
Then, as so often will happen, Terry Knight and the rest of the Pack realized they had to go their separate ways. Terry moved to New York and formed a club act while the rest of the guys in the Pack - Don Brewer, Mark Farner, Curt Johnson, and Bob Caldwell-went their own ways. It had all seemed to happen. At 20 Terry had been the number one disc jockey in the nation's fifth largest radio market. Then he'd sold over a million and a half records with the Pack. Then he'd ended it all to come to New York where he worked as a producer with The International Pops Orchestra, The Five Stairsteps, and The Music Explosion. He wrote for some of the acts too, and that led to a call from 20th Century-Fox. They asked him to compose-produce the musical score, and sing the title song, for the film The Incident, starring Beau Bridges.
By now Terry had gotten off the track - it seemed from his original goals: to entertain people, especially kids, and to be himself. He was getting a good deal closer to the second of these goals, but it wasn't until the fall of 1968 when he was asked to join Britain's top model, Twiggy, on her U.S. tour, that Terry felt the time had come to try again. To get back on stage and sing his songs and entertain kids.
Twiggy and her manager, Justin De Villeneuve, persuaded Terry to record once again and invited him back to London to meet Paul McCartney. Terry remembers it this way, "When I arrived in England, I found Paul tied up preparing arrangements for Mary Hopkin's new Lp and was much too busy to go into serious discussion at the time." Interestingly enough, it was Twiggy who had brought Mary Hopkin to Apple after seeing her on a British TV program. Before Terry had left for England, Capitol Records had contacted him, inquiring about his availability as a recording artist. "They came up with some very interesting proposals but I felt that I owed it to myself and to Twiggy to follow up her lead first."
Although a single followed soon after called "Lullaby," Terry was not destined to be an artist in his own right-at least not so far. Instead, Grand Funk came hurtling onto the scene, giving Terry the fullest opportunity to introduce his personal philosophy of succeeding at the onset and carrying through. Mark Farner, Don Brewer and Mel Schacher were just three young, gifted, not very successful musicians when Knight spotted them trying to get something together.
He moulded them first into a tight, professional musical unit, and thereafter into the showmen they are today-musicians who can do more than make music, but in fact entertain, bring enthusiasm to an audience, sock home enjoyment. Critics bellowed their complaints. They still do. Knight ignored them then. He still does. Knight directed the group to the mass public he felt was warred-out, caused-out and looking for a good music/ good time alternative to society's negatives. "It was needed, and we were there," Knight says simply. People wanted to return to the hard-rock roots of music and we were among the first to recognize it"
And the people came, crowds grew larger and larger, and so did popularity and public acclaim. But not from the critics. . Merely the people who, according to Terry, "were always our only concern from the very beginning." Meanwhile, Terry continued to flaunt his unique marketing techniques such as the gint billboard, that spanned two fun city blocks along Times Square in New York. The cost: $100,000. It was money well spent. No one visiting Manhattan during the peak summer, tourist months, from all over the world, left without an awareness of Grand Funk RaiIroad.
Concerts, personal appearances. One after another. SRO audiences and standing ovations. Soon their annual gross was exceeding $5-million. Yes, Grand Funk has become a multi-million dollar corporation through the artful enterprise and counseling of their producer-manager who remains objective enough to insist: "It couldn't have been done without three of the finest talents in the world. And the timing. Grand Funk is important not only musically, but sociologically. They are a very real representative of a very real culture. The culture is right, and we are right. And to hell with the critics. They have proven themselves wrong. So far, everything that Terry Knight has done proves him right.
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