Steve Janowsky, the Review Fix Rocktologist- Episode Two: Mark Farner Interview

Mark Farner, guitarist, singer and songwriter for Grand Funk Railroad, has had a prolific and stellar musical career. The Flint, Michigan native was part of one of America’s first power trios (1968-1977, 1980-1983 and 1996-1999) along with Mel Schacher (bass) and Don Brewer (drums and vocals). With classic rock anthems like “We’re an American Band,” “I’m Your Captain” (Closer to Home), “Inside Looking Out,” ‘Heartbreaker,” “Bad Time,” “Mean Mistreater”and “Foot Stompin’ Music,” Grand Funk Railroad sold 25 million records while scoring 12 platinum and 15 gold albums.

Farner’s one of a kind vocals and expert guitar work defined Grand Funk Railroad’s (later called Grand Funk with the addition of keyboardist Craig Frost) sound and helped make them one of the most electrifying live acts in rock and roll history. What other rock group could play the Atlanta Pop Festival in front of 160,000 people as an unsigned band, be snapped up by Capitol records, and record their first album within four months? The band also set an attendance record at Shea Stadium in 1971, surpassing the legendary Beatles appearance in 1965.

From 1983 to 1994, Farner recorded Contemporary Christian albums garnering critical acclaim and continued to wow Grand Funk Railroad fans and newcomers to his music. He also toured with Ringo’s All-Star Band on numerous occasions starting in 1995 and later reunited with Schacher and Brewer for a series of benefit concerts for war-torn Bosnia that were recorded on the double CD “Bosnia.” From 1999 on Farner has toured with his band Nr’G releasing “Red, White and Blue” and “Live Nr’G.”

Reviewfix.com recently spoke with Farner about Grand Funk Railroad, Ringo Starr, John Entwistle, recording, touring and what the future holds for this brilliant musician.


Mark Farner Interview
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Steve Janowsky is a former co-host of the Rocktologists theme based classic rock show radio show on WKRB 90.3 fm, which was voted the best classic rock podcast in the country by Dave White of About.com. Some of the interview guests on the show were Simon Kirke ( Free and Bad Company), Carl Palmer (ELP), Vince Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Randy Jackson (Zebra) and Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush. Janowsky is also an English and Journalism instructor at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY and is an avid guitar player and songwriter.

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Steve Janowsky is a former co-host of the Rocktologists theme based classic rock show radio show on WKRB 90.3 fm, which was voted the best classic rock podcast in the country by Dave White of About.com. Some of the interview guests on the show were Simon Kirke ( Free and Bad Company), Carl Palmer (ELP), Vince Martell (Vanilla Fudge), Randy Jackson (Zebra) and Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush. Janowsky is also an English and Journalism instructor at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY and is an avid guitar player and songwriter.

4 Comments

  1. I saw Mark on the tour w/ Ringo Starr he talks about in your interview. Absolutely one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. Farner had the audience in his hand during “Some Kind of Wonderful”. Hard to believe two of the guys from that tour (Entwistle, Preston) are gone. Thanx foir bringing back the memory.

  2. fun interview, but when Steve mentioned newer songs he’s singing like “Airborne Ranger..” ?? that song came out 20 years ago. There was no mention of Marks’ 2006 “For The People” and that could have been a big part of the discussion. I wonder why Mark wouldn’t have brought it up. Also, songs that Mark wrote in GFR were discussed, and one that kept getting mentioned was “Inside Looking Out”, but it’s pretty common knowledge that that was originally an Animals song, not written by Mark. Lastly I would have loved some discussion on why Mark is not doing many, if any at all, club dates anymore. I know that it was something to do with the smoking policies, but that is a non issue now.

  3. I have seen Mark with Grand Funk in the 90’s and with N’RG of late…………..The most inspirational, emotional, and fun concerts of all time for me.
    The current version of Grand Funk is not real………….I actually left the concert.

    Can someone Please tell Don and Mel to call Mark and do a show or two for the people!
    I guarantee there would be a crowd.

  4. Mark was my first inspiration to pick up a guitar and learn to sing. I was in a Military school on an Airbase outside Madrid, mostly Americans. I got the lead in West Side Story mainly because of my vocal range, bass to soprano which once in a while the chorus teacher would tell me, let the girls sing the soprano Ric, I’m trying to hear them! Haha! But it got me a job at 17 with GI’s and a Spanish guitarist,we split lead and rythm. We played mostly the NCO club and Officers. Since we weren’t Spanish nationals they wouldn’t let us play off base without a license and everyone in the band to read music. I was the only one, so that was that, They also protected their Country by having a 100% import tax on anything they also carried; Mark’s material kept the crowds dancing till I became disabled after cancer and 6 injections a week for a year. But Mark’s music always made the dance floor fill up from biker bars, to opening for the Gatlin Brothers, who loved us and told the promoter we should’ve been right before them. We ended with Some Kinda Wonderful and Closer to Home the album version, which everyone loved. So I know first hand how many fans Mark has, all over the world, and Country. I’ve seen him play with the back stabber 3 times during their reunion. And I’ve seen Mark with the Godrockers, and NRG and NRG is better then the original band. All the shackles are removed from Mark and yes “For the People” is by leaps and bounds the best ever Mark Farner album. The band adds a lot to what is already perfection. And what Don and Mel are doing is just plain sad. A drummer and I and our wives paid a whopping 2 bucks to see them, and we walked out after a sickly falsetto version of Closer to home, it’s just plain sad. We all looked at each other and started walking. I want my 2 bucks back and 5 minutes alone with one of Brewer’s faces! Disabled and Osteoporosis and all, I would enjoy busting a few bones on him. Pure A hole all the way! I know Mark is too much of a class act to say it, but I’m not, I’m not! I”M NOT! BREWER YOU SUCK! Maybe if you work real hard you’ll suck less! You calling yourself Grand Funk is about as much of a crime as me calling myself the Pope!
    Keep the Funk alive Mark, you are and always will be the backbone of the band. And truthfully I love your sound now, and the band is better period!

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