The Grass Roots

  • Rock band from Los Angeles California, formed in 1965. The classic lineup was Creed Bratton (vocals, guitar), Rick Coonce (drums), Warren Entner (vocal, guitar, keyboards), and Rob Grill (vocals, bass).
  • The early development of the band started with songwriting duo Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, who worked for a record company. They had written several folk rock songs, and recorded Where Were You When I Needed You as a demo, hoping to get interest from radio stations. The demo was released under The Grass Roots name. When it appeared that something could happen with the song, they started looking for a band to become The Grass Roots.
  • In 1965, they found a band that won a Battle of the Bands competition in San Francisco. They re-recorded the song, along with a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Jones (Ballad of a Thin Man). They received some airplay in southern California, and started playing backup for The Mamas and the Papas. They also were the house band for a nightclub in Hollywood.
  • Several members of the band left, moving back to San Francisco. These artists continued to use The Grass Roots as their band name, until the record company ordered them to cease, as the record company planned to relaunch the band with new members. Meanwhile, Where Were You When I Needed You hit the Top 40 chart in mid-1966, though the debut album of the same name did not sell well.
  • Barri and Sloan found a band in Los Angeles called The 13th Floor. They liked what they heard, and the record company gave them the option of going with their own band name, or using the now established Grass Roots name. They took The Grass Roots name, and started to record.
  • The band released 7 studio albums between 1967 and 1975, as well as 2 greatest hits albums. Six songs cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 – Midnight Confessions (#5), Let’s Live For Today (#8), Sooner or Later (#9), Temptation Eyes (#15), I’d Wait a Million Years (#15), and Two Divided By Love (#16).
  • Throughout this time, several band members left and were replaced. Their songs had evolved from folk rock into a distinctive upbeat soul sound, and many songs featured a brass section – one of the earliest rock bands to incorporate horns into their arrangements.
  • By the mid 70s, The Grass Roots was essentially done. However, in the 80s, nostalgia for the 60s was gaining momentum, and the band re-formed, with Rob Grill the only original member. They played a free independence concert at the National Mall in Washington DC in 1982 that attracted half a million people.
  • They continue to perform tour nationally and internationally even today. Grill toured until his death in 2011. Over the years, 55 different people have been members of the group.
  • The Grass Roots is another group that was a big early influence on my music evolution. My brother had their More Golden Grass greatest hits album, and Temptation Eyes was frequently played at home. I got hooked on their hits, and can still sing along with most of them. My favorite was Sooner or Later – and here it is. The woman in the video is Mary Arnold, a member of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, who was a guest on the TV show that day.

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