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When Grand Funk Reunited and Performed a Detroit Concert with Peter Frampton, Paul Shaffer and the Symphony Orchestra

Rock To The Rescue
Photo by Scott Gries, Getty Images

Billed as a benefit concert for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the three original members of Grand Funk Railroad played a concert in Detroit which featured special guests and was recorded live.

Mark Farner had a couple of solo albums to his credit and a couple of reunions with original Grand Funk Railroad members Don Brewer and Mel Schacher when the band was “on” again in 1997. They enlisted some friends for a benefit concert for a good cause: relief for refugees suffering in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Two shows were recorded live in Detroit featuring special guests Peter Frampton, Alto Reed- saxophone player for Bob Seger‘s Silver Bullet Band and Paul Shaffer conducting not The World’s Most Dangerous Band but the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Here are the highlights:

  • As the strains of 2001:A Space Odyssey” fade, the MC announces “Here’s the group you’ve been waiting to see…GRAND. FUNK. RAILROAD!”
  • The band tears through 3 songs and then Peter Frampton straps on an axe next to Mark Farner for the bluesy “Time Machine.”
  • “Heartbreaker” stretches out to 7 ½ minutes before Don Brewer counts them in to “Aimless Lady” highlighted by Silver Bullet saxman Alto Reed.
  • 1997 becomes 1977 as T.N.U.C. has a lengthy drum solo from Don Brewer.
  • A cover of The Animals’ “Inside Out” and “Shinin’ On” leads the band into their 2 biggest and most familiar songs “The Locomotion” accompanied by Peter Frampton and Alto Reed and then “American Band” closes out disc 1.
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra echoes “American Band” and opens the second disc of the Bosnia set with an overture of Grand Funk Hits. Guest conductor Paul Scheaffer of Late Night with David Letterman fame swings the baton. The orchestra disappears as the band rips through a couple of songs but the strings are back in full effect on “Bad Time,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home” and the encore “Loneliness.”

Band breakups are always messy, but reunions are magical, especially when they happen at home and feature special guests. Mark, Don and Mel were only back together for 3 short years but we will always have this live greatest hits souvenir.

Mark Farner continues to play solo shows and Don Brewer and Mel Schacher carry the Grand Funk banner with longtime bandmates Max Carl and Bruce Kuhlick.

Next Up: Grand Funk Railroad to Rock Kalamazoo Ribfest 2017

Bonus Video: Don Brewer of Grand Funk Talks About the Band in 2017

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