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Michigan Boogie

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"The problem in this business s that you don 't o wnyour o. wn product. If you record, it's the record company that owns, if you play at a club, it's the nightclub owners who charge people to listen to you . . ." Ornette Coleman "I own Grand Funk Railroad." Terry Knight It wasn't the cleverly ambitious but greedy manager, Terry Knight, who made the music. It wasn't deceptive shylocks or slave traders who drove people nuts, jumping barricades in the rain, outdrawing even the sacred Beatles, and becoming the number one rock and roll band in the world. It was Mark Farner, Mei Schacter and Don Brewer from Flint, Michigan who charged the people with high-energy jams. It was their on-stage excitement that proved how full of shit the pop-propagaters of lowenergy music were. Like lemmings most rock critics, except for Creem's courageous crusader Dave Marsh, dove into the L.A. sea of maudlin mushiness, trite tenderness, and the introspective isolationsim of the folksy pseudo-sophisticated sentimentality that Taylor-the Baby-James gushed forth with first. The elitist regional chauvinist puds of the music business in their guilded California splendor were always afraid of the power, loudness, and raunchy, liberating body music of Michigan. It wasn't pretty or hip; and besides. Mark, Don and Mei never played the Brithis Blues with any of the Blind Faith, or hummed, harmonized and homogenized with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and they weren't even friends of Leon Russell, the aging shindog who seems sure to become the next Frank Sinatra. No, Grand Funk Railroad's only friends were millions of hard-core rock anf roll fiends of every hue of the rainbow, who would rather boogie up a storm than wallow in the ntellectual droppings of snobish, self-acclaimed pop trend-setters who could see no valué, legitimacy or class in the heavy-metal music produced by the three sweaty sons of Midwestern factory workers. Grand Funk's meteoric 3-year rise to international success was master-minded by Terry Knight, former AM disc-jocky and mediocre leader of The Pack. Fancying himslef as the Colonel Torn Parker of the 70's, the frustrated ex-performer made all the business decisions for the group, many times not even consulting them. The group had absolutely no say over packaging, bookings, or sundry items, the latter being stage-mother Knight's crassly commercial venture into GFR Toiletries and jewelry. Another grossly conceived project by the bogus Barnum of the bandstand involved joining forces with Justin, Twiggy's svengali, to make movies which would be remakes of Polluted Beach Party flicks with the lanky limey lass as Annett and Mark Farner as Frankie Abalon. Once again no consideration given to the feelings of the band. Through Knight's megalomanical visión he was Mr. Grand Funk with Mark, Mei and Don in supportive roles under his direction. Totally in charge of the finances and business, Knight was the President and managing director of Grand Funk Railroad Enterprises, Ltd., with an estimated control of anywhere from 50%-70% of the stock. Terry's sometimes tasteless and garish promotion often hurt the group, leaving a bad taste of hype that caused many people who had never experienced GFR to be totally turned off in front. He always referred to the band as "the boys." His arrogance only allowed a superficial glimpse of the individual talents, thought and personal ities of Mark Farner, Mei Schacher and Don Brewer, preventing feelngs of ntimacy, friendship and real character to become developed as the Beatles did so well. Knight gnored the regional idyosyncracies of Grand Funk that made us feel close to the Liverpudlians. The Funk, because of totalitarian Terry's style of promotion and hype, became no more personal than the grand international gladiators playing the arenas of the vvorld. Realizing that there was financial wierdness, and wanting to develop their potentialities and particípate more in the rainbow culture. Mark, Don and Mei hired a lawyer to represent their interests. The condescending Knight even approved (after the fact) their choice of John L. Eastman, brother of Linda and manager of Paul McCartney. Representing the honkier Beatle n his difficult split with Apple, Eastman s not known for his tact. John Lennon has been publicly contemptuous of this attorney's sneaky tactics. At a surprise press conference in New York on Tuesday, March 24, Terry announced that he was suing lawyer Eastman for $5 million for inducing Grand Fund to break their contract with Terry. At this point the exploiter of Michigan musicians was seeking to enjoin his bread-winners from further "breach of contract." The Grand Funk wants the bloodsucker off their backs so they can begin directing their own affairs. Their recording contract with Terry Knight Ent., the major stock - holder in Grand Funk Railroad Enterprises, expires on June 4, but themalevolent management contract goes till December 31, and then Knight gets a 3 year option. Trying to out flank Terry Knight, Eastman apparently went to the Chase Manhattan Bank, who handles the official Funk account, telling them that Terry was doused and he, lawyer John L. Eastman, would then have the account. The bank rejected the McCartney-brother-in-laws claim and stuck with their buddy Knight. At a second press conference, called for Tuesday afternoon, March 28, at the New York City office of Capítol records, a nervous and tired Knight announced a $55 million dollar suit against "his boys" and their council. (More news of this piggish suit next issue.) Meanwhile, last week Mark recorded a 60 second radio spot urging Ann Arborites to "go down to the polls and vote on Monday, April 3rd." Mark goes on in the spot to urge people to come to the Easter Be-In this Sunday and the rock and roll Election Boogie coming up this Sunday night at the Union ballroom. The spot was recorded at Mark's Hartland, Michigan farm, and can be heard up until election day on WNRZ, WABX, WAAM, WCBN, CJOM, CKLW, WKNR, WCAR, and several other stations. Once again WRIF, terrified of the rising activity of the people's musicians, refused to put this non-commercial public service on the air.