Nearly everybody who has followed music during the 70’s has heard about Grand Funk Railroad
—the hard rockin’ American band from Michigan—but even some fans might not know these five facts about the band:
‘Grand Funk Railroad’ is a Play on Words for a Rail Line
Terry White—the band’s first manager—named the band as a play on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a well-known rail line that runs through Michigan.
Critics and Radio Programmers Dismissed the Band
Truly the people’s band, millions loved Grand Funk Railroad during the 70’s, yet critics frequently panned the band, writing them off as crude and unsophisticated. Despite Grand Funk’s massive success, Rolling Stone never issued a cover page of the band and disparaged them in its reviews. Front man Mark Farner even recounted times where his band received poor concert reviews for epic, lively shows. Terry Knight’s promotional campaign style is most likely to blame. Farner himself said Knight wanted to “create a mystique” for Grand Funk, so the band wasn’t allowed to speak to the press. Farner also said Knight did all the interviews instead of the band and tried to mess with critics. Still, using his marketing skills, Knight contributed to Grand Funk’s success. Even with bad press, Grand funk rose to the top thanks to its energetic performances.
Grand Funk Railroad has sold over 25 Million Albums
Grand Funk truly shined on the stage, building fame through amazing performances rather than positive reviews and radio airways. Their reputation resulted in a lack of airplay; many radio programmers seemed to hold a low opinion about the band as well. Because of this lack of airplay and abuse from critics, Grand Funk’s only way to get recognition was to put on wild concerts; it came naturally to them. The band sold out stadiums and arenas throughout the country, soon becoming a band praised by regular folks and despised by the critics.
Grand Funk sold out faster than the Beatles
During the summer of 1971, Grand Funk played one of its biggest shows ever at New York’s Shea Stadium. In a mere 72 hours, GFR sold out stadium both nights, breaking the Beatles record at that venue and still holding it today. The show itself was a historically significant one; the band gave it their all, electrifying the crowd with their strong vocals, thundering drum beats, and groovy bass lines.
The American Band Doesn’t Hold a Spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Despite the millions of albums sold, the legendary concerts, and being the band for blue-collar America, Grand Funk Railroad has yet to be inducted into the hall of fame. Although the American Band already immortalized itself in Rock and Roll History, an induction into the hall of fame would prove appropriate and consummate the Grand Funk’s legendary status.
Enjoy all your favorite Grand Funk Railroad hits when they perform at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center on Saturday, October 11 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $30 for General Admission seating, and discounted tickets are available for tiered card holders. Click here for more information.
“Artist Facts for Grand Funk.” Song Facts. Song Facts. Web. August 26, 2014.
James, Gary. “Gary James Interview with Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.” Classic Bands. Gary James. 2005. Web. August 26, 2014.
Kern, William. “Grand Funk Railroad wins over rock fans, not Rolling Stone.” Lubbock Online. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. September 23, 2011. Web. August 26, 2014.