Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grand Funk, The #64 Artist of the Seventies*

This great group formed in Flint, Michigan in 1969, as guitarist and lead singer Mark Farner, drummer Don Brewer, and bassist Mel Schacher (formerly of Question Mark & the Mysterians) joined together.  Terry Knight became the group's manager, and named Grand Funk after the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a popular rail line in Michigan.

Grand Funk received kudos for their performance at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival, and Capitol Records took notice, signing the band to a recording contract.  Grand Funk's first two albums, both released in 1969, both sold well.

In 1970, the group released the album Closer to Home.  Although the single "I'm Your Captain (Closer To Home)" was not a big hit (#22), it received significant airplay, and Grand Funk ended the year with the most sales of any American rock band.

Closer to Home has now sold over two million copies.  Showing off their live skills, Grand Funk released the Live Album in 1970, and it too went Gold.  In 1971, the band released the album Survival, another Platinum winner.

Later in the year, the album E. Pluribus Funk was released, with the single "Footstompin' Music" a minor hit at #29.

The song led the way to Platinum status for the album, and things seemed to be going good.   But while Knight had helped launch the band, the group members were dissatisfied, and fired him early in 1972.  Knight sued for breach of contract, leading to a long drawn-out legal battle.

After that mess was over, Grand Funk hired keyboardist Craig Frost, and the new lineup recorded the Gold album Phoenix.

The group then brought in veteran Todd Rundgren to produce their next two albums, and it was magic, as Grand Funk enjoyed the greatest popularity of their career.  The title song to the 1973 album We're An American Band was a smash #1, and is still one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.


The Locomotion by Grand Funk Railroad on Grooveshark
We're An American Band went Platinum and reached #2 on the Album chart.  Grand Funk came up with a great encore in 1974 with the album Shinin' On.  They achieved a #1 song with their cover of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song "The Loco-Motion". (Please click on the "Play" icon in the top left-hand portion of the video...)


Grand Funk were international stars, touring the United States, Europe, and Japan.  The follow-up, "Shinin' On", nearly cracked the Top 10, stopping at #11.


In 1975, the group released the Jimmy Ienner-produced album All the Girls in the World Beware!!!  The single "Some Kind Of Wonderful" shot up to #3.


Grand Funk followed up that big hit with the #4 single "Bad Time".

But with the success came differences among the members.  They finished out their obligations with Capitol with the 1975 double live album Caught in the Act and the album Born to Die in 1976.

Grand Funk broke up after the last album was released .  They reunited in 1981 with a new line-up, and the original members have reunited several times since.

Grand Funk sold 9 and a half million albums in the decade.  They scored 16 hits in the Seventies, with four Top 10 songs and two #1's.

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