Grand Funk Railroad: Where Is the ’70s Rock Band Now?

As its name implies, classic rock isn’t so much defined by its sound as its place in music history. Much of this music carries a certain timelessness that deserves to be remembered. But unfortunately, not all classic rock acts claim their rightful places within the genre.

Given its accomplishments, Grand Funk Railroad might be among the most overlooked. Here’s what the band is doing now.

Grand Funk Railroad formed in Flint, Michigan, in 1969

Grand Funk Railroad leaves the airport on their first Japan tour in July 1971
Classic rock band Grand Funk Railroad on their first Japan tour in 1971 | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Grand Funk Railroad first came together in 1969 with original members Don Brewer, Mark Farner, and Mel Schacher. That very year, the band released its first two studio albums, On Time and Grand Funk. Over the next decade, Grand Funk Railroad released another nine albums, with 1970’s Closer to Home arguably its biggest album.

Bringing arena rock to the masses, Grand Funk Railroad scored hits like “Closer to Home,” “We’re An American Band,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Shinin’ On,” and “Bad Time.” The band also found success with covers of other artists’ popular songs, such as The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion,” and Soul Brothers Six’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

Grand Funk Railroad has disbanded and re-formed several times

At the height of its popularity in 1971, Grand Funk Railroad famously sold out New York’s famous 55,000-capacity Shea Stadium faster than even the Beatles. But it didn’t take long for the band to face many of the same issues as their contemporaries. Just five years later, Grand Funk Railroad broke up, a decision Farner blames on Brewer.

“It was Don Brewer who broke up the band,” Farner told Rock Cellar Magazine. “He was late to a rehearsal. Finally, he walked in and said ‘I’ve got to find something more stable to do with my life.’ That was it. He was calling it quits. I asked him ‘Are you saying the band is over?’ He said ‘yep’.  So I immediately got on the phone and started calling people up.  I had to have a gig and I had to play music.”

Grand Funk Railroad would re-form a few more times over the years. But it never quite recaptured the magic of its initial run. The band’s final and most recent album was 1983’s What’s Funk? And Grand Funk Railroad continues to tour in 2022.

Where are the original Grand Funk Railroad members now?

Remarkably, two-thirds of the original trio is still part of the band. Both Brewer and Schacher are still with Grand Funk Railroad to this day. The other band members are keyboardist Tim Cashion, lead vocalist Max Carl, and guitarist Bruce Kulick. Farner, on the other hand, hasn’t been a part of Grand Funk Railroad since the ’90s. 

Following the band’s initial break-up, he briefly rejoined the band in 1981 and 1996. But both times that stint only lasted a couple of years. Since 1977, Farner has kept up a solo music career, with his latest release in 2006. He was also inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2015.

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