Grand Funk Railroad


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Grand Funk Railroad (1969-1976, 1981-1983, 1996-1998, 2000-present): a Hard Rock band from Flint, Michigan, USA.


riginally opening shop as Terry Knight And The Pack by Terry Knight (Real Name: Richard Knapp; vocals), Mark Farner (vocals) and Donald Brewer (ex-Jazz Masters; drums). In 1967 they managed to score a US 46 with a 7" single I (Who Have Nothing), a soul filled rock platter. By 1969, the membership shifted around to where Knight became the manager while Farner took over both guitar and vocals with Brewer on drums. New member Mel Schacher took bass. With emphasis on high volume, they proceeded to form their own brand of proto-heavy metal and hard rock along the same lines as Steppenwolf and Mountain.

In September of 1969 they adopted the Grand Funk Railroad moniker, a spoof of "Grand Trunk Railroad", the turn of the 20th century span of railway crossing South-Eastern Canada (Ontario & Quebec) spanning to Chicago, USA. Following along this theme they released their debut album On Time that same year on 'Capitol'. After their appearance at the Atlanta Pop festival their album climbed the US charts to 27. Time Machine was the track of note that helped the album to the top.

From this point on, Grand Funk Railroad became a very prolific act by launching an album approximately every six months with the American public never seeming to get enough of their formulaic hard rock music. Each album climbed higher in the US charts on a sort of systematic schedule with Grand Funk (1970), Closer To Home (1970), and their first live set simply titled Live Album (1971), Survival (1971), E Pluribus Funk (1972), and Phoenix (1973); the albums obtaining a US 11, 6, 5, 6, 5, and 7 respectively. By the end of 1971 they broke The Beatles' box office attendance record by selling out New York's Shea Stadium.

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After separating with Knight to hire John Eastman (brother-n-law to Paul McCartney) their name was trimmed down to just Grand Funk and with the help of Todd Rundgren's production credits We're An American Band (1973), and the spin off single of the same titled track, landed them their 15 minutes of fame by getting a 2 in the US while shifting millions of copies. Indeed, it was their finest moment for the spin off single made #1 on its own, as did their cover version of Little Eva's Loco-motion with the help of Craig Frost on keyboards. Shinin' On (1974) followed its predecessor up for the ride featuring the aforementioned Loco-motion prominently among its grooves, gaining the platter a 5 US position.

Once again assuming their full name, Caught In The Act (1975), another live effort came about to get a 21 on the US scale, but 1976's Born To Die failed to have the suss to extend that high in the charts settling in at 47 US. At this point they called in Frank Zappa but his attempt to redefine the band's sound on Good Singin' Good Playin' (1976) was a complete disaster. Although it made 52 on the US charts it was mostly due to the buying power of past fans who were not likely to support this trend. The act split less than a year later with the bulk of the membership forming Flint, while Farner went solo.

In 1981 the act reformed under the Grand Funk name again with Farner, Brewer and Dennis Bellinger (bass/vocals). Frostwas unable to return for Bob Seger happily employed him. The resulting albums, however, were by many accounts below par, certainly below their past work and their charting positions and sales went along for the ride on Grand Funk Lives (1982) and What's Funk? (1983). Their final appearance together in this incarnation was for the heavy metal soundtrack compilation album after which Brewer also joined Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band and Farner went solo to release a one-off in 1988 titled Just Another Injustice.

In 1996, Grand Funk Railroad's three original members once again reunited and played 14 shows during a three-month period. In 1997, the band played three sold-out Bosnian benefit concerts. These shows featured a full symphony orchestra that was conducted by Paul Shaffer (from Late Show with David Letterman). A live two-disc benefit CD, Bosnia recorded in Auburn Hills, Michigan, would result. The band would split again in 1998.

2000 saw the act reform again under the line-up of Don Brewer (lead and backing vocals, drums), Mel Schacher (bass), Max Carl (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar), Tim Cashion (keyboards, backing vocals) and Bruce Kulick (lead guitar, backing vocals) to tour.

On November 1, 2004 Knight was killed in his home while defending his daughter from an intruder.

In 2018 bassist Stanley Sheldon (ex-Peter Frampton) sat in for Schacher while he mourned the death of his wife, Dena, to cancer.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Grand Funk Railroad among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 'Universal Studios' fire.

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Nation USA
Location Flint, Michigan
Genre Hard Rock
Formations 4
Active Years 1969-1976, 1981-1983, 1996-1998, 2000-
Last Modified 2023-02-20
Diskery ID 574

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