About Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk Railroad, sometimes shortened as Grand Funk, is an American rock band who achieved their peak in popularity during the 1970s. Known for their crowd-pleasing arena rock style, the band toured extensively and played to packed arenas worldwide, and was well-regarded by audiences despite a relative lack of critical acclaim. The band's name is a play on words of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a line that runs through the band's home town of Flint, Michigan.
Grand Funk Railroad was formed as a trio in 1969 by Mark Farner and Don Brewer from Terry Knight and the Pack, and Mel Schacher from Question Mark & the Mysterians. Knight soon became the band's manager and also named the band as a play on words for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line in Michigan. First achieving recognition at the 1969 Atlanta International Pop Festival, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, Grand Funk was asked back to play at the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival II the following year. Patterned after hard-rock power trios such as Cream, the band, with Terry Knight's marketing savvy, developed its own popular style. In August 1969 the band released its first album titled On Time, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record in 1970.
In February 1970 a second album, Grand Funk , was awarded gold status. Despite critical pans and little airplay, the group's first six albums were quite successful.
The hit single "I'm Your Captain ", from the album Closer to Home, released in June 1970, was considered stylistically representative of Terry Knight and the Pack's recordings. In the spring of 1970, Knight launched an intensive advertising campaign to promote the album Closer to Home. That album was certified multiplatinum despite a lack of critical approval. The band spent $100,000 on a New York City Times Square billboard to advertise Closer to Home.
By 1971, Grand Funk equalled the Beatles' Shea Stadium attendance record, but sold out the venue in just 72 hours whereas the Beatles concert took a few weeks to sell out. Following Closer to Home, The double disc Live Album was also released later in 1970, and was another gold disc recipient.Survival and E Pluribus Funk were both released in 1971. E Pluribus Funk celebrated the Shea Stadium show with an embossed depiction of the stadium on the album cover's reverse.
By late 1971, the band was concerned with Knight's managerial style and fiscal responsibility. This growing dissatisfaction led Grand Funk Railroad to fire Knight in early 1972. Knight sued for breach of contract, which resulted in a protracted legal battle. At one point, Knight repossessed the band's gear before a gig at Madison Square Garden. In VH1's Behind the Music Grand Funk Railroad episode, Knight stated that the original contract would have run out in about three months, and that the smart decision for the band would have been to just wait out the time. However, at that moment, the band members felt they had no choice but to continue and fight for the rights to their careers and name. The legal battle with Knight lasted two years and ended when the band settled out of court. Knight came out the clear winner with the copyrights and publisher's royalties to every Grand Funk recording made from March 1969 through March 1972, not to mention a large payoff in cash and oil wells. Farner, Brewer and Schacher were given the rights to the name Grand Funk Railroad.
In 1972 Grand Funk Railroad added Craig Frost on keyboards full-time. Originally, the band had attempted to attract Peter Frampton, late of Humble Pie; however, he was not available due to signing a solo record deal with A&M Records. The addition of Frost, however, was a stylistic shift from Grand Funk's original garage-band based rock and roll roots to a more rhythm and blues/pop rock-oriented style. With the new lineup, Grand Funk released Phoenix, its sixth album of original music, in September 1972.
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