Grand Funk Railroad was born in 1968 when two kids left the band they were in, Terry Knight and The Pack, to form a band of their own. Those two young men, Mark Farner and Don Brewer recruited ? and The Mysterian's bass player Mel Schacher (pronounced Shocker),…more
Grand Funk Railroad was named after the Grand Trunk Railroad of Michigan.
In 1968, ex-The Pack members guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer brought in bassist Mel Schacher from ? and the Mysterians to complete the power trio Grand Funk Railroad.
After a few local concerts, manager Terry Knight managed to swing a deal with the promoters of the Atlanta International Pop Festival. Grand Funk Railroad played for free to 180,000 people in 110 degree heat during the July 4th celebration. The only unsigned act on the show, they were an instant hit.
In 1971, Grand Funk Railroad broke the record that the Beatles had set, selling out New York's Shea Stadium in under 72 hours, a record they still hold today.
Manager Terry Knight was fired in 1972, just weeks before his contract expired, resulting in years of law suits costing millions of dollars.
In the midst of legal wrangling, Terry Knight claimed ownership of the band's name, forcing them to shorten the name to just Grand Funk. Years later, when the law suits were settled, they would go back to the full name of Grand Funk Railroad.
Grand Funk's first number one hit, which was also their biggest hit, was We're An American Band, written and sung by Don Brewer and reportedly about a real event that happened.
Christened The American Band and The People's Band by their fans, Grand Funk Railroad was still hammered mercilessly by the press.
Grand Funk Railroad has 13 certified Gold albums and 10 certified Platinum albums, with 19 charted singles.
GFR did a hard rock cover version of The Rollings Stones' "Gimme Shelter".
Born To Die was meant to be GFR's last album, showing the band members laying inside coffins on the album jacket. But they reunited for one more album after that with Frank Zappa on board as producer.
The group's 2nd album, the self titled Grand Funk, is referred to among fans as "The Red Album" because of it's solid red cover.
In 1973, keyboardist Craig Frost, another Michigan musician and a former member of The Fabulous Pack, was added to the band's lineup.
Based on their appearance at the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1969, Capitol Records offered GFR a recording contract and the group recorded their first album, On Time.
In 1970 manager Terry Knight reportedly paid $100,000 for a giant billboard hung in New York City's Times Square to promote the album Closer To Home, pushing the album into the top ten and establishing the title track as an AOR radio favorite.
Grand Funk disbanded in 1977, with Farner stepping out into a solo career and Brewer, Schacher and Frost forming the band Flint.
Farner, Schacher and Brewer agreed to try it again as GFR in 1981, rehearsing songs and preparing to tour. Schacher pulled out at the last moment for personal reasons and was replaced by bassist Dennis Bellinger. They would tour, record two albums and then disband again.
After Grand Funk's second break up, Mark Farner rededicated his life to Christianity and released four Contemporary Christian albums. Frost and Brewer joined and toured with Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band.
After years of rumors that GFR would never tour again, Mark, Don and Mel began discussions about a reunion. Farner agreed to two years and Grand Funk Railroad once again started touring to sold out concerts. In 1997, they recorded the live album Bosnia to aid orphans in that country. At the end of two years, Farner agreed to tour one more year before resuming his solo career. The original Grand Funk Railroad finally retired in 1998.
In 2000, Brewer and Schacher decided to revive the name and tour as Grand Funk Railroad once again, without founding member Mark Farner, filling out the new band with three touring musicians, Max Carl (.38 Special), Bruce Kulick (KISS, Billy Squier, Michael Bolton, Meatloaf) and Tim Cashion (Bob Seger, Robert Palmer, Jon Secada).
Grand Funk Railroad is reportedly Homer Simpson's favorite band.
Rolling Stone Magazine once called Grand Funk the worst band of all time.
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS both point to Grand Funk Railroad as an important early influence in their music.
Since 1969, Grand Funk Railroad has released 19 albums and 16 compilations, resulting in sales of over 25 million albums worldwide.