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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Terry Knight and the Pack ► A Musical Appreciation

First LP
Second LP
When I was a teenager one of my absolute favourite bands was Terry Knight and the Pack. I was an unsophisticated 14-year old when they released their only 2 LPs and they really spoke to my teenage angst. It didn't hurt that Terry Knight and the Pack were a local band. (Who knew from Flint, Michigan?) I didn't know (at the time) of Terry Knight's history as a Detroit DJ, first on WJBK, then moving to The Big 8, CKLW in Windsor. All I knew is the music really embedded itself deeply into my psyche.

At the time I didn't have the language, or understanding of why they appealed to me so greatly. However, in hindsight based on my collected knowledge of musical genres, I can see how Terry Knight wove in bits of Psychedelia, Vaudeville, Country, Blues, Folk, and Jazz and then infused it all with a Rock and Roll sensibility that at once made it sound familiar, yet different. All I knew at the time is that I would listen to these two LPs -- from start to finish -- and then do it all over again and again and again.



Terry Knight and the Pack were short-lived, recording just two LPs in its 2-year history. Again, as unsophisticated as I was at the time about music, I knew nothing about the individual members of the band. Terry Knight's name was known because he led the band, but the rest of the players could have really been called The Pack, for all I cared.

When Terry Knight and the Pack broke up, Knight became a producer for Cameo-Parkway, the company that released TK&TP's LPs. When the Beatles formed Apple he went to London to try and become a producer and/or recording artists. Knight was apparently present at the recording session for the 'White Album' at which Ringo Starr quit the band (before being cajoled back).

Knight bounced back to 'Merka and became a staff producer for Capitol Records, getting into some trouble with his song "Saint Paul," which included snatches of Beatles' songs near the end. The Beatles' publisher filed a cease and desist order and the single was pulled. Eventually it came back on the market in a truncated form, but with a credit to Maclen Music. Later, when the Paul is Dead rumour swept the world, parts of this song were used as clues in the hoax.

It wasn't until Terry Knight's next project came on the scene did I learned that at least 2 members of The Pack were named Mark Farner and Don Brewer. Knight put them together with Mel Schacher from another local Detroit group, and label-mates, ? and the Mysterians to form Grand Funk Railroad. Terry Knight became their producer and manager. Grand Funk Railroad went on to fill stadiums, firing Terry Knight with just three months left on his contract. Lawsuits flew.

Soon after that Knight was fired from Capitol and he started up his own indie label called Brown Bag Records, which released music by by Mom's Apple Pie, John Hambrick, Wild Cherry and Faith. Nothing really hit and Knight retired from the music biz in 1973, becoming addicted to cocaine. He cleaned himself up in the '80s and settled in Yuma, Arizona, putting his hard-driving Rock and Roll past behind him.

On November 1, 2004 Terry Knight was murdered by his daughter's boyfriend when he stepped in to defend her during a fight. He was stabbed 17 times. A year later Donald A. Fair, who claimed he was hopped up on methamphetamine at the time, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Terry Knight, born Richard Terrance Knapp 61 years earlier, was buried in a family plot in Lapeer, Michigan.

The first two Terry Knight and the Pack LPs were released on CD as a two-fer. Thanks to Spotify, you can listen to it here:

Long live Terry Knight and the Pack!!!