Grand Funk Railroad
Grand Funk Railroad, sometimes shortened as Grand Funk, is an American rock band popular during the 1970s, when they toured extensively and played to packed arenas worldwide. David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine once said, “You cannot talk about rock in the 1970s without talking about Grand Funk Railroad!” Known for their crowd-pleasing arena rock style, the band 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 ran through the band’s home town of Flint, Michigan.
Originally a trio, the band was formed in 1969 by Mark Farner (guitar, vocals) and Don Brewer (drums, vocals) from Terry Knight and the Pack, and Mel Schacher (bass) from Question Mark & the Mysterians; Knight soon became the band’s manager, as well as naming 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 I, the band was signed by Capitol Records. After a raucous, well-received set on the first day of the festival, the group 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 (or The Red Album), was awarded gold status. Despite critical pans and a lack of airplay, the group’s first six albums (five studio releases and one live album) were quite successful.