Terry Knight is best remembered for two things. First, he was the producer for Grand Funk Railroad during the early part of their career. He produced six gold albums by the band and helped to make them one of the leading concert attractions in the United States. For his efforts he was fired during 1972. His second claim to fame was his murder. On November 1, 2004, he was defending his daughter in an argument against her boyfriend and was stabbed to death. His assailant received a sentence of life in prison.
Lesser known today was his leadership of the psychedelic rock band, Terry Knight And The Pack. The band, with future Grand Funk members guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer, plus second guitarist Curt Johnson, bassist Herm Jackson, and keyboardist Bob Caldwell, released a few singles and two albums for the Cameo-Parkway subsidiary label, Lucky Eleven. Real Gone Music has now resurrected those albums, Terry Knight And The Pack and Reflections as a two for one CD release.
Their self-titled debut was typical of many new bands of the era as it contained eight original numbers by Knight and several cover songs. The finished product was raw but had a basic charm and it received moderate national success. It’s appeal enabled the band to be a local opening act for The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones.
The best of the material was the self-composed “Numbers.” It was a powerful slice of northern Michigan garage rock. The closest they ever came to a hit single was a cover of Ben E. King’s soul ballad, “I (Who Have Nothing).” Knight got the phrasing just right and this dramatic rock and roll treatment of the old nugget proved that he could really sing when given the right material. They even managed to pull off the folk rock song “Lovin’ Kind.” On the other hand, covers of The Stones “Lady Jane,” Sonny Bono’s “Where Do You Go,” and several of his own compositions were merely filler.
Their second and last album was released during April of 1967 and was a commercial failure. The band tried to adapt to the changing music scene at the time as the music had an overall harder edge.
Knight wrote nine of the tracks and while his Dylan clone “Dimestore Debutante” remains interesting, it was the three cover songs that provided the high points of the release. Joe Tex’s “One Monkey Won’t Stop the Show” and P.F. Sloan’s “This Precious Time” were both very good but it was the languid and bluesy cover of The Rolling Stone classic “Satisfaction” that steals the show.
Terry Knight And The Pack probably did not have the talent to become a national fixture. It would be his bandmates, Brewer and Farner, who would grab the commercial brass ring. The legacy of Terry Knight And The Pack is that of a gritty and good regional band and in the final analysis that’s not bad. The reissue is a nice slice of late 1960s Michigan rock.