MARK FARNER
F
ormer member of
 Grand Funk Railroad


at Wild Hog MC Rally April 24, 2004


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MARK FARNER
 
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.

The following is from vh1.com's artist biography on Grand Funk Railroad......

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 ? And The Mysterians . At this point Knight stopped performing to become the band's manager, renaming it Grand Funk Railroad (the name was taken from the Michigan landmark the Grand Trunk Railroad). The new trio signed with Capitol Records in 1969 and immediately began making its name by performing at several large pop festivals. Their first singles reached the charts but Grand Funk soon proved its real strength in the album market. On Time reached number 27 in 1969, followed by the number 11 Grand Funk in 1970. By the summer of that year they had become a major concert attraction, and their albums routinely reached the Top 10 for the next four years. Of those, 1973"s We're An American Band was the biggest seller, reaching number 2. The group's huge success is often attributed to the public relations expertise of manager Knight.

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 Closer To Home , which subsequently became their first Top 10 album, reaching number 6 and spawning the FM radio-staple title track. That promotional campaign backfired with the press, however, which dismissed the band's efforts despite spiralling success with the public. In June 1971, for example, Grand Funk became only the second group (after the Beatles) to sell out New York's Shea Stadium. Their recordings sold in greater quantity even though many radio stations ignored their releases. 1970's Live Album reached number 5 and included another concert and radio favourite in Farner's "Mean Mistreater". The next year saw the release of Survival and E Pluribus Funk , the latter most notable for its round album cover. In 1972 the group fired Knight, resulting in a series of lawsuits involving millions of dollars (they hired John Eastman, father of Linda McCartney, as their new manager). In 1973 the group shortened its name officially to Grand Funk, and added a fourth member, keyboard player Craig Frost (b. 20 April 1948, Flint, Michigan, USA).

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 Good Singin', Good Playin" , produced by Frank Zappa. When it failed to reach the Top 50, Farner left for a solo career. The others stayed together, adding guitarist Billy Elworthy and changing their name to Flint, a group who failed to find commercial success with their solitary album. Grand Funk, this time consisting of Farner, Brewer and bass player Dennis Bellinger, re-formed for two years in 1981-83 and recorded Grand Funk Lives and What's Funk? for the Full Moon label. Failing to recapture former glories, they split again. Farner returned to his solo career, before joining Adrenalin . Brewer and Frost joined Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band. The band reunited for a benefit for Bosnian orphans in 1997. Farner continues to perform the Grand Funk catalogue all over the world as a solo artist.