Don Brewer, drummer for Grand Funk Railroad, played in rocker Bob Seger's backing band. Grand Funk Railroad, as they were initially known -- had a series of hit singles and platinum albums in the '70s, but they were also one of the most critically attacked groups in the history of rock. Grand Funk Railroad came together in 1968 in Flint, Mich. when ex-Terry Knight and the Pack singer/guitarist Mark Farner -- a football prodigy who was sidelined permanently from knee injuries -- and fellow ex-Pack member Brewer (who once led the Jazz Masters) hooked up with ex Mysterians bassist Mel Schacher. The trio brought Knight on board as their manager, naming the band Grand Funk Railroad after the Grand Trunk Railroad.
Grand Funk, which initially emphasized blues-rock, performed for free at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival in Hampton, Ga., which led to their signing with Capitol Records. At first, radio was very chilly to the band, but constant touring and heavy promotion helped Grand Funk produce five platinum and three gold-certified albums between 1969 and 1972. In 1970, the band had one of its biggest early hits with the #22 single "Closer to Home."
But, in 1972, Grand Funk fired Knight, a move which initiated a protracted legal battle. The band eventually hired John Eastman, Paul McCartney's brother-in-law, to handle business matters. At the end of the year, the group added keyboardist Craig Frost for Phoenix. The following year, they officially dropped "Railroad" from their name and issued the Todd Rundgren-produced We're an American Band, which spawned a #1 hit single in the title track.
In 1974, Grand Funk released the more pop-based Shinin' On, which included another chart-topper in their cover of Little Eva's "The Locomotion." Grand Funk's version marked only the second time in history that a remake of a #1 song hit the top. All the Girls in the World -- Beware!! (1974), which spawned the #3 "Some Kind of Wonderful," was the last hit album for Grand Funk.
Grand Funk announced their dissolution in 1976, but reconsidered and came back later that year with the Frank Zappa-produced Good Singin', Good Playin'. The following year, Brewer and Schacher formed a new band, Flint, effectively ending Grand Funk. Flint's eponymous debut album wasn't a big success, nor were Farner's solo efforts.
In 1981, Brewer and Farner resurrected Grand Funk for an album that cracked the Billboard albums chart. Two years later, they split again and Brewer decided to join rocker Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band.