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Photo Credit: Neil Preston
Legendary all-American frontman and guitarist, Mark Farner, was the engine that pulled the original Grand Funk Railroad repeatedly to the top of the charts, and today he’s a platinum recording artist 30 times over. At age 70, Farner commands the stage with the same intensity and outpouring of love as he did during the summer of ’69 and his fans are still flocking to see “the Captain.” The rock patriot’s synergy and open heart still come through in epic hits that defined a generation including— “I’m Your Captain” (Closer to Home)” “We’re An American Band” “Heartbreaker” “Bad Time To Be In Love” and recut covers of “The Loco-Motion” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.” Being viewed as a “Rockstar” is only one facet of the legacy of this Michigan-born son. Mark is as real as they get: he’s a husband, a father, and grandfather, and in his fourth decade of marriage to wife Lesia. He’s a true family man.
“I think our fans originally connected to our songs because we were sincere” Farner said. “My lyrics were about Mother Earth, stopping the war, and all about love. They still have a point of reference with me in their heart.”
After the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival put Grand Funk Railroad on the fast track, the band topped the Billboard Chart twice with both the anthem “We’re an American Band” (1973) and 1974’s “The Loco-Motion.” The Flint, Michigan trio reached the top 10 again with “Some Kind of Wonderful” (No. 3) and “Bad Time” (No. 4) before GFR disbanded for the first time in 1976. Farner briefly rejoined Grand Funk during the 1980s and 1990s and he has collaborated with many other artists over the years. However, his focus has been to forge an enduring solo career based upon bringing his message of love to his fans in all corners of the world.
“Love is unconditional,” he explains. “Just like when you hold a baby, the love transfers. I feel that love from the audience when I’m on stage.”
The son of a World War II veteran, four-time bronze star recipient and career fireman, Farner also knows the importance of brotherhood and commitment. On his mother’s side, he champions his Cherokee heritage and the fact that his mother was the first woman welder in the United States to weld on a tank during World War 2. It just so happened to be the same type of Sherman tanks his father drove. Farner’s work on and off the stage is focused on honoring service personnel and veterans and offering support to American farmers, individuals with disabilities, and downtrodden populations.
Farner, the rock patriot that he is, works tirelessly to honor our nation’s service personnel and Veterans wherever they are stationed. He wants everyone to remember the huge sacrifices our men and women in the armed services freely give; all to protect our amazing country and freedoms.
Some 50 years later something magical still happens when Farner takes the stage. His voice is still strong and on key, his guitar playing still slick and lighting quick, and his trademark prancing still commands the stage and mesmerizes his audiences around the world.
“I love playing live where I can connect with people of all backgrounds,” he said. “ It’s all about the fans…and all about love.”