Former member of
Grand Funk Railroad
at Wild Hog MC Rally April 24, 2004
The songwriter. The guitarist. The unmistakable voice that powered Grand Funk Railroad to 12 platinum and 15 gold albums.
A true rock 'n roll legend, Mark Farner found fame and success at 20 years of age as the leader of one of America's biggest bands, Grand Funk Railroad. The band recorded 17 albums with total sales of more than 25 million records, and toured the world, which isn't bad for a guy who only had three formal guitar lessons.
Putting various bands together, Mark played the usual dates a teenage band would play - high school dances, VFW halls, wedding receptions and the like. Upon leaving high school, Mark turned professional, working with Terry Knight and the Pack, The Bossmen (with Dick Wagner), back to Terry Knight and the Pack, then just the
Pack (this time with no Terry Knight, but with drummer Don Brewer).
In 1969, Mel Schacher, who had been a member of Question Mark and the Mysterians, was invited to join Mark and Don, and Grand Funk Railroad - one of the first American power trios - was born.
Then came the Atlanta International Pop Festival in July 1969. The only unsigned act on the show, Grand Funk Railroad played before 180,000 people in 110-degree heat and the acclaim was instantaneous. Following their Atlanta appearance, the band was signed by Capitol Records and their first album On Time, was recorded and released within four months.
The saga of Grand Funk Railroad is well documented. The albums included such titles as Grand Funk Railroad, Survival, Live Album, Closer To Home, E Pluribus Funk, Phoenix, Good Singin' Good Playin', Caught In The Act and All The Girls In The World Beware, among others. The hit singles included "I'm Your Captain (Closer To
Home)," "Foot-Stompin' Music," "Loco-motion," "Mean Mistreater," "Bad Time" and "Some Kind Of Wonderful," among others. In 1971 they set the attendance record at New York's Shea Stadium for a concert, surpassing the record set by The Beatles in 1966, and a record that still stands today, some 17 years later.
In early 1977, Grand Funk Railroad called it quits, and after taking a year or so off, Mark Farner signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records and issued two critically acclaimed albums: Mark Farner and No Frills.
In 1981, a reunited Grand Funk Railroad recorded a new album, Grand Funk Lives for Full Moon/Warner Bros. Records, and a second album, What's Funk, shipped in 1982.
Mark released 4 contemporary Christian albums from 1983 through 1994, earning a Dove nomination and reaching the #2 chart position with the John Beland composition "Isn't it Amazing". His continuous touring schedule kept him in contact with both his longtime Grand Funk fans, and the new fans that first noticed Mark during his solo years.
In 1995, Mark toured with Ringo Starr's All-Star Band, then toured with The Northwest Airlines All-Stars in 1996 before reuniting with Don Brewer and Mel Schacher to record their Bosnia album for Capitol-EMI.
Grand Funk Railroad toured in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and was named to Pollstar's Top 100 Tours of 1998. VH-1's "Behind The Music" on Grand Funk Railroad has been airing since early 1999, as well as the Grand Funk Railroad Anthology album released on Capitol Records.
Formed in 1968, Grand Funk Railroad was the first
American heavy rock "power trio" to achieve massive fame, while
alienating another large segment of the rock audience and critics at the same
time. The group was a spin-off of the Michigan area in the mid-60s, and
originally comprised guitarist Mark Farner (b. 29 September 1948, Flint,
Michigan, USA), bass player Mel Schacher (b. 3 April 1951, Owosso, Michigan,
USA) and drummer Don Brewer (b. 3 September 1948, Flint, Michigan, USA).
Farner and Brewer had both been members of the Pack, while Brewer had also
belonged to the Jazz Masters. Following a single release on the small Lucky
Eleven label, "I (Who Have Nothin)', which reached number 46 in the US
chart, the Pack were joined by Schacher, formerly of
In 1970, for example, Knight reportedly paid $100,000 for a huge billboard
in New York City's Times Square to promote the group's
Now produced by Todd
Rundgren, they finally broke into the singles market, reaching number 1
with the album title track "We're An American Band", (remember
Sweet, Sweet Connie? She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas) a celebration of the
group's times on the road. In 1974 a major revision of Little
Eva's "The Loco-Motion' also reached the top (the first time in US
chart history that a cover version of a song that had previously reached
number 1 also attained that position). In 1975, with their popularity
considerably diminished, the group reverted to its original name of Grand Funk
Railroad. The following year they signed with MCA Records and recorded