The Mark Farner Interview

By Shawn Perry

Grand Funk Railroad has been part of my musical vocabulary for as long as I've followed rock music. I was blown away with this ravenous power trio when I picked up their Live Album in 1970 at the local K-Mart. But it was Mark Farner — the band's longhaired, bare-chested frontman — who captivated me and everyone else the most with his boundless energy, working-class lead guitar work, high falootin' vocals, and soulful, emotionally charged songs. While it can be suggested that drummer Don Brewer and bassist Mel Schacher were and remain the thunder of Grand Funk Railroad, there can be no denying that Farner was and will always be the group's bolt of lightning.

Since a confusing and ugly split from Grand Funk Railroad at the end of 1999 (along with surrendering the name and being replaced by three other members), Farner has stayed the course, clinging to his strong spiritual and patriotic beliefs as he maintains a steady regimen of playing and recording his music. During the arrangement of the following interview, I received a copy of Farner's latest solo album, For The People, and I am still astounded by his musical capabilities. Even as he closes in on 60, Mark Farner shouts, skips and strums like a man half his age.

At times, he may come across as disappointed, maybe even bitter, by the turn of events over these past few years between him and his former band mates, but his tone and temperament were completely upbeat and positive during our conversation. He is a man of remarkable principle whose faith has gotten him through anything-but-ordinary times. There's no B.S., no phony showbiz indifference, no regrets and no apologies from the guy. You get what you bargain for when it comes to Mark Farner. Fortunately for me and his legion of fans, it's worth every note.

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