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Music / Grand Funk Railroad

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Original lineup of Grand Funk Railroad. Left to right: Don Brewer, Mel Schacher, and Mark Farner.

"You kids don't know Grand Funk? The wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drumwork of Don Brewer? Oh, man!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons, "Homerpalooza"

One of the most popular American rock bands of The '70s, Grand Funk Railroad was formed in 1969 by Mark Farner (co-lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards), Don Brewer (co-lead vocals, drums) and Mel Schacher (bass guitar), with Craig Frost (organ) joining the band by the time they had their biggest hits. Hailing from Michigan, they took their name from the Grand Trunk railroad that operated in the state.

Earning massive popularity at the expense of critical derision with their hard-edged Blues Rock style, the group shifted millions of records, scored two number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 ("We're An American Band" and "The Loco-Motion") and even broke the attendance record at Shea Stadium set by The Beatles. However, disputes within the band, Executive Meddling and burn-out resulting from their touring schedule took their toll on Grand Funk, who decided to call it a day in 1976.

Reunion attempts were initially unsuccessful, resulting in Mark Farner quitting the band in favour of his solo career as a Christian Rock artist. He was replaced by former .38 Special vocalist Max Carl and KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, with whom the group continues to tour.

Notably, they're Homer Simpson's favourite band.


  • On Time (1969)
  • Grand Funk (1969)
  • Closer to Home (1970)
  • Live Album (1970) - live album
  • Survival (1971)
  • E Pluribus Funk (1971)
  • Phoenix (1972)
  • We're an American Band (1973)
  • Shinin' On (1974)
  • All the Girls in the World Beware!!! (1974)
  • Caught in the Act (1975) - live album
  • Born to Die (1976)
  • Good Singin', Good Playin' (1976)
  • Grand Funk Lives (1981)
  • What's Funk? (1983)
  • Bosnia (1997) - live album
  • Live: The 1971 Tour (2002) - live album

Grand Trope Railroad:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: They enjoyed the jokes at their expense on The Simpsons, noting that Homer is a perfect representative of their fanbase.
  • Cover Version: Their second #1 hit was a cover of "The Loco-Motion" (written by Carole King), which had previously occupied the top position in a 1962 version by Little Eva. GFR's other covers include "Inside Looking Out" (The Animals) and "Gimme Shelter" (The Rolling Stones).
  • Epic Rocking:
    • "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home", clocking in at just over 10 minutes.
    • Their cover of "Inside Looking Out" is 10 minutes, but live versions could go as long as 16 minutes. The 9:31 single version is the longest 7" ever to make the UK Top 40.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Bad Time" is a mid-tempo, driving rocker about Mark Farner splitting up with his wife.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Not actually a funk band. However, they did have a few tracks that could loosely be described as falling into the funk rock genre (e.g. their cover of "Inside Looking Out" by The Animals and also made a cover of "It's A Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown).
  • Ode to Intoxication: Their cover of "Inside Looking Out" changes the lyrics to include lots of marijuana references.
  • Punny Name: Named after their state's Grand Trunk Railroad.
  • Record Producer: Good Singin', Good Playin' was produced by Frank Zappa, one of his few production gigs outside of his musical entourage. In fact, Zappa approached the band, who technically had broken up, to offer his services and they agreed to get back together just to work with him.
  • Rock Star Song: "We're An American Band".
  • Rock Trio: Directly patterned after Cream, they were one of the earliest examples, although they added a fourth member (Craig Frost) as a permanent keyboardist in 1972.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mark Farner rarely wore a shirt on stage and if he did, he'd usually rip it off during the show.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Are "I'm Your Captain" and "Closer to Home" separate songs that are performed together? Or is "Closer to Home" just the final movement of "I'm Your Captain"? Or is "I'm Your Captain" the first movement of a song called "Closer to Home"? They've changed their minds on this several times over the years.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Mark Farner (soprano) and Don Brewer (gravel).
  • The Band Minus the Face: Since 2000, when Mark Farner was fired from the band.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Mark Farner and Don Brewer.