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Terry Knight Speaks

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Our pal Barry Stoller has a cool interview with Grand Funk Railroad and Bloodrock impresario and producer Terry Knight on the Perfect Sound Forever site:

    PSF: Andrew Loog Oldham – an obvious inspiration – said in 1965 ‘the Rolling Stones are more than just a group – they are a way of life.’ An obvious blueprint for GFR’s marketing…

    TK: I met Andrew back in the 1960’s – he was first on tour with the Beatles’ manager. The Stones played Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago [where Terry Knight & the Pack opened those shows]. Great guy. I hear he’s living in Colombia now, very well enhanced.

    PSF: Do you remember meeting Phil Spector [in 1963]?

    TK: Yes, the president of A&M, Jerry Moss, sent me to Los Angeles to record a demo and knocking at my hotel door there was this little tiny mite and Rosy Grier – what a couple! – and I was strumming a guitar. I asked Phil if he played. He picked up that guitar and proceeded to play Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D minor – very well, too. Tremendous talent. Grier sat there doing needlepoint.

    PSF: John Sinclair also had an in-your-face media style…

    TK: Not really the same, our styles were at odds. I never let the foundation of his philosophy influence me, his adversarial support for marijuana – I stayed away from that arena. I didn’t take one side or another with marijuana. I do remember the “Fuck Hudson’s” ad, though – but that was the MC5, not Sinclair.

    PSF: Ever heard of Malcolm McLaren?

    TK: I wasn’t a big fan of the Sex Pistols. I knew they were huge but they slipped by my radar at that point in my career. [Knight effectively retired from the music business in early 1974.]

    PSF: Do you recall meeting McCartney [in 1968]?

    TK: Yes, I recall meeting McCartney very well. We first met in Detroit and shared a brief hello. Later, he called me to England, Apple bought me a plane ticket, he invited me to sing. We had lunch in London with Linda and Twiggy, Roger Moore and Peter Sellers – and then I went to the studio where Yoko and Ringo and everyone else was assembled. It was the session where it was over [Ringo walked out during White Album sessions]. I went back to New York empty-handed and wrote the song “Saint Paul” on the flight.

    PSF: Are you aware that the song is credited with starting the “Paul-is-dead” rumor?

    TK: [Smile.] Oh, yes, I’ve heard that before.

    PSF: I want to praise your production touches, such as the backwards guitar on Bloodrock’s “Fatback” and the wind/chimes on “Sable & Pearl” – they seem to pick up from the Beatles, only with a 1970s dread…

    TK: I recorded backwards guitar before the Beatles – back with the production for a band named the Jayhawkers. It’s the producer’s job to set up the sound on tape, record and mix that sound with the right equalization. It’s the producer’s duty to enhance that sound with whatever effects work to bring the performance about. I’m pleased and proud of the end results on the Bloodrock albums.

    PSF: Your interview with Discoveries [February 2000] quotes you as saying that you came up with the name Bloodrock and that the “concept name” gave you an LP cover in mind…

    TK: That first album [with the rock and the bloody smashed window], the cover was my design. I did not get the cover credit, though. George Osaka of the art department designed the second cover [with blood dripping over the band photo].

    PSF: What were your favorite sessions?

    TK: Well, that first Bloodrock LP – I stand behind that completely. Those are immemorial tracks. I loved the compositions on Bloodrock’s second album, too. Good sessions. Then, there’s [GFR’s] “Closer To Home,” that was a producer’s composition. I edited that to add the lengthy ending recorded with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra; GFR didn’t even hear it until they were sitting around in Flint. “People, Let’s Stop the War” – that, too; I edited that one line over and over to compose the chorus. And, “Paranoid” – the crying.

    PSF: The first time I heard “I Can Feel Him in the Morning,” a friend played the spoken word intro and when the music came on, he pulled the needle off the record, saying that we just heard the best part…

    TK: [Laugh.] Well, thanks. That was [engineer] Kenneth Hamann’s idea – we went outside the studio and found some kids on the sidewalk. We recorded them right there. The last line, “If you’re good you’ll live forever and if you’re bad you’ll die when you die” repeated over and over – Ken did that. That was the first time a GFR song painted a picture, that one. The innocence of the song suggested to me a grieving mother who lost a son in the Civil War – and we just took it from there. The backing singers on that, by the way, were hookers we found on the corner – they got $100 each for that session.

    PSF: Survival was one of the first records to feature a mellow heavy metal sound. Coming off the success of GFR’s earlier productions, that was a bit of a commercial risk.

    TK: The group wanted a studio album, they were conscious to show some musicianship with that one.

    PSF: How long did those albums take to record and mix?

    TK: With Bloodrock, it was two days for an album. Each song was well-written out in advance and they played them all for me in rehearsal. They were pretty intricate performances, the placement of all the instruments was a challenging venture. I took liberties to rearrange some of them and they would come back in a week to play them for me the new way. I don’t remember them ever challenging any of my suggestions. Mixing took about three weeks for each album. Grand Funk Railroad – they took about three days to record.

    PSF: How would you compare the two bands?

    TK: It was very different material with each band. They were both at the cutting edge of their style, though. GFR had a basic, uneducated, visceral style. Bloodrock’s performances were studious and mathematical; their songs were like algebraic computations…..

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • larry patterson

    Whatever happened to Pia, Terry Knights wife Larry
    I know when we were doing the MOMS APPLE PIE thing,…PIA was on the cover of Wild Cherrys album
    Larry for MGR. MOMS APPLE PIE

  • matthew

    I also would like to find Pia. I met her and
    Terry when I was ten (in 1971) and we kept in touch for a few years. I’ll never forget the cards and packages of records they sent me at boarding school. I never got to thank Terry but would love to send a note to Pia. If anyone knows where she might be reached thank you in advance for letting me know.

  • Bob

    I remember their music well. I also remember listening to Terry Knight at night on CKLW. That station came across the great lakes and could be heard all over.

    I also remember going to see the Pack at John Carroll University. Terry had already gone on to his review, which never quite made it. I never understood why he did not stay with the Pack. They were great. Who knows how far they could have gone.

  • Jeri Holloway

    I am glad the man who killed Terry was convicted. It never ran in our local paper.

    I met Terry in Chicago in 1965, we were staying at the same hotel and in town for a Rolling Stones concert. We stayed in touch over the years and met up again in Hollywood, shortly after I moved out there from Louisiana, and he was in town on business. Sadly after the 70’s we lost touch with each other.

    He was a talented performer and an excellent manager.

  • randy chamberlain

    i cant say enough on how much i thought of terry i had known him for many years when he was playing a club on corunna rd in flint mi, he took me under his wing did a lot of things with me most people only dreammed of doing , we stayed friends for many years i introduced him to his , daughter danielle,s mother lisa scaffede at my house on lake fenton in 1982 him and lisa were inseperable after that terry lisa and my wife at the time val ran around lots , and terry was always the clown always upbeat despite financial troubles beginning to develop i lost touch with terry i 1986 i always planned to retire and spend some time together , but just 1 year before i was to retire i was in falling watters w. v. when i heard on cnn that terry was dead , i was in shook i felt that someone who was instrumental in me becomming the individual i am today , was lost was a very wierd feeling terry was a good friend i will miss the times we had and the ones we wont. randychamberlain

  • thanks so much for your thoughtful words Randy

  • Joe in Toronto, Canada

    Terry Knight was one of the most vindictive people this world has ever seen.

    What he tried to do, and did, to GFR cannot be forgotten.

    What former “manager” of a band would even THINK about repossessing the bands equipment just as they are about to play a show?

    Oh ya, he was a great man-NOT!

  • fabio

    truly I know the story from the very beginning…GFR were great hard rockers, stunning musicians but without Terry they would have been nothing…Terry was a genius and helped them a lot…unfortunately he loved business and money more than his three brothers…may he rest in peace, he was killed just for defend his daughter and that act makes him a great man, above all human miseries.

  • Jackie Glasco / Patru

    Terry and I worked together in Flint at WTAC radio station – me, Secretary to owner & GM Gene Milner, Terry, the most popular DJ as far out as the signal carried. He was 20, I 23 at the time. I knew him as Terry Knapp. We were buddies. He DJ’d drive time and would call me when I got home. Had long talks (while the music played) about a lot of things, life in general, about his dreams and what he wanted to accomplish. I remember especially him saying he hoped success wouldn’t change him.

    I was divorced and moved to Detroit to manage Silhouette American fitness center at Finkle and Grand River. Worked long hours so I didn’t even know Terry had moved there until he popped in to the club one evening out of the blue. Can’t remember how he found me. He took me to a party that night that lasted ’til the wee hours. They left town the next day and then we lost touch.

    Was talking with a friend tonight about my working at WTAC and brought Terry’s name up. Then decided I’d google to see if I could find him. Began reading all about his many successes, and then to discover he’d been murdered… I sat here stunned and saddened. He did good, didn’t he? From what I’ve read he did a lot of good for a lot of people. That was Terry. I knew him as a really nice guy, and I’ll keep that memory.

    I’m proud to have been your friend. R.I.P. Terry

  • I knew Terry after his GFR days when he was driving race cars. His car was prepared by the same guy (Bob Sharp) who prepared Paul Newman’s (Newman btw was a very good driver). I must confess I had no idea until later who he was. One of his sponsors was a yacht club in the Caribbean and sometime later I read about a drug “issue” that mentioned Terry and the club. He was a likeable guy and I, too, was saddened by his terrible fate even though I knew him rather briefly.