MARK FARNER- Grand Funk Still Drawing Sellouts”
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LEWISTON, IDAHO 8-22-09
“GRAND FUNK STILL DRAWING SELLOUTS”
BY LISA ROBINSON
THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
BAKERSFIELD, CA. 6-27-71
Grand Funk Railroad has been denounced many times by rock critics as being non-musical monsters. Without critics’ help, or even a hit single, the group has consistently drawn sellout crowds whenever it performs.
Mark Farner, the lead guitarist, Don Brewer on drums, and Mel Schacher on bass, have broken attendance records for concerts in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. When they played at Madison Square Garden last year, long lines waited outside all night to buy tickets and, when the box office opened, the tickets were sold out within four hours.
This summer, Grand Funk will play Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets. Since the Beatles appeared there in 1965, no single group has attempted to fill the 53,000-seat stadium. “We’re not playing Shea Stadium to pull down the flag of the Beatles,” their manager Terry Knight asserted. “We are not playing Shea Stadium to make money. We just wanted to play Shea Stadium. This group can call the biggest convention of their generation together at the snap of a finger,”- Knight said modestly and continued, “if Grand Funk announced on the radio today they would give a free concert in Central Park, the entire city of New York would grind to a halt. They have that power. And that frightens the establishment. Listen, Mark Farner could get up on a stage and say to Shea Stadium’s 53,000 people, ‘Brothers and sisters, now is the time, now go out there and take that city,’ and there isn’t an army in the world that could stop those people.”
Knight makes these statements in spite of the rock critics.
“When Mark Farner walks on stage, it doesn’t make any difference if the press criticizes him for being an incompetent guitarist,” Knight said. “Grand Funk is powerful not because of what they play and the way they play, but what they represent.”
There are those who feel that when Terry Knight discovered Mark, Don and Mel in Flint, Mich., they had no idea of what to play or what to do and that the whole concept and development of Grand Funk Railroad was his vision.
Knight, who had been the leader of a rock group called Terry Knight and the Pack dismissed the claim. “My role with Grand Funk is an interpreter,” said Knight. “It’s very simple, don’t call me a genius. Maybe there’s genius in a way, the way the expertise is given, the expertise in which the interpretation is given, but I’m interpreter. I haven’t man-made the group. I’ve interpreted their message to the media. Not to the kids, I haven’t had to sell that group to the kids.”
“I’ve read reviews that have called Grand Funk Terry Knight’s man-made musical monsters,’ ” Knight continued, that’s false. Terry Knight did not make this group. Terry Knight interpreted what this group said as an interpreter.”
Terry Knight and members of Grand Funk Railroad are millionaires.
Mark Farner wants to do something to help people with the money he’s made, he said at a recent press conference. He wants to buy thousands of rusting oil drums, paint them red, white and blue and have people use them for trash instead of littering the ground.
“Mark’s got himself to the point where he is a spokesman for the generation,” Knight explained. “He’s not a fat-cat man, he really wants to represent his generation. He’s paid dues for two years to get to this point, to represent them.
“People must stop relating to Grand Funk Railroad as a musical group , as a recording act,” Knight said. “When Mark Farner stands onstage, he is a symbol of freedom. He takes that guitar and he holds it up and he says, ‘See this brothers and sisters, this is how I broke the mold. I found one thing and I stayed at it, this is the power that put me here, that drew us all together, it’s what this represents’.
He holds it up for them, he says I can’t play, but this is what brought us together.”
MARK FARNER BAND DISCOGRAPHY:
1977 Mark Farner
1978 No Frills
1988 Just Another Injustice
1989 Wake Up
1991 Some Kind of Wonderful
2003 Live (w/NRG)
2006 For the People
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LEWISTON, IDAHO 8-22-09