Fans of Seventies rock are sure to remember Grand Funk Railroad. The group, who has been together since 1969, is still touring and selling out shows across the world reaching both new and long-time fans for 47 years. They will be making a Southern California appearance later this month when they perform at the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield. The show is September 28th at 8 pm and is free with fair admission.
Drummer Don Brewer speaks to us exclusively about the upcoming performance. He says fans should expect to hear the hits mixed with a few newer tunes.
“Well, we focus on giving everybody the hits, you know?” he tells us. “They wanna hear the Grand Funk hits, so we give ’em the staples: ‘Foot Stompin’ Music,’ ‘Rock And Roll Soul,’ ‘I’m You’re Captain/Closer To Home,’ ‘Inside Looking Out,’ ‘We’re An American Band,’ ‘Locomotion,’ ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful,’ ‘Walk Like A Man,’ all of the hits, as well as a few other things. We like to get everybody involved. We like to get everybody on their feet and havin’ a good time and smilin. That’s what the show’s all about.”
Brewer also explains that touring these days is less hectic than in the Seventies.
“From 1969 to 1976 we used to do two tours a year along with two albums a year,” he explains. “We used to do an album and then we’d go on the road for forty shows and it would be about forty shows in forty days. That kind of a thing. Now we do, over the course of a year, we’ll do about forty shows. So it’s all spread out. It’s a lot easier to do it this way. We do a lot of fly dates. We’re not just constantly getting on a bus and going on the road. It’s very nice this way.”
Formed in 1969 in Flint, Michigan, Grand Funk was born out of the ashes of Terry Knight & The Pack with Brewer, bassist Mel Schacher and former guitarist and singer Mark Farner. For the past 17 years, the group has included Brewer, Schacher, former 38 Special vocalist Max Carl — who Brewer calls “one of the last blue-eyed soul singers on the planet” — former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick and keyboardist Tim Cashion who’s played with Bob Seger and Robert Palmer.
Together, Brewer and Schacher have created a dynamic and multi-talented five piece band that will not only carry on the tradition of Grand Funk hits, but also has the potential to create a new chapter in the legacy of Grand Funk Railroad. With the group reforming in 2000, this new chapter in the band’s biography is being written daily. Both seasoned Grand Funk lovers and contemporary rock fans–discovering the group for the first time on CDs and VH-1– will be able to see and hear firsthand that Grand Funk Railroad’s train is back on track.
“We like to get everybody on their feet and havin’ a good time and smilin. That’s what the show’s all about.”
Grand Funk has laid the groundwork for such bands as Foreigner, Journey, Van Halen and Bon Jovi with its signature hard driving sound, soulful vocals, muscular instrumentation and forceful pop melodies. The fact that Grand Funk’s legacy still reigns over the classic rock landscape forty years later is a testament to the group’s influence and staying power.
Mega-hits “We’re An American Band,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home,” “Locomotion,” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful” still receive continuous airplay on classic rock radio. “We’re An American Band” has received notoriety in recent years being used in movie soundtracks and in television/radio advertising. The huge hit was featured in a recent General Motors national TV ad campaign and in Disney’s animated feature film The Country Bears. In 2004, “We’re An American Band” was featured in the Cuba Gooding Jr. film Radio, and in 2005 it was featured in the swashbuckler Sahara starring Matthew McConaughey.
Internationally acclaimed Grand Funk has toured the world, selling out in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and South America. A 1971 performance at New York’s Shea Stadium sold out faster than the Beatles. The group’s widespread appeal is also evident in its prestigious recording achievements. Over their career, Grand Funk has had 19 charted singles, eight Top 40 hits and two Number One singles (“We’re An American Band” and “Locomotion,” both selling more than one million each). The group has now accumulated 13 gold and ten platinum records with record sales in excess of 25 million copies sold worldwide. The most recent gold CD award was presented to the band May 10, 2002 for their greatest hits package Grand Funk Railroad The Collectors Series.
Hear the full interview below.