Bread

  • Soft rock band from Los Angeles California, formed in 1968. Members of the group were David Gates (vocals, bass guitar, guitars, keyboards, percussion, violin), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion), Robb Royer (bass guitar, guitar, flute, percussion, backing vocals), and Mike Botts (drums). Larry Knechtel (keyboards, bass guitar, guitar, harmonica) replaced Royer in 1971. Gates was the main songwriter, with contributions primarily from Griffin and Royer.
  • Gates originally was from Oklahoma, playing in bar bands in Tulsa, before moving to California to try a career in music. He began producing and writing for other bands. One band had Royer as a member, and Royer introduced his songwriting partner Griffin to Gates. By 1968, the trio decided to form a band, naming themselves Bread after seeing a Barbara Ann Bread truck on the road. In January 1969, they were signed to a recording contract.
  • Their debut single, Dismal Day, did not chart, and their debut album, the self titled Bread, barely made the album chart. Gates, Griffin and Royer used 2 session musicians on the album. As they began to perform concerts, the drummer on the album could not commit to future concerts, so they brought Botts into the band – Gates earlier had produced an album by Botts’ previous band.
  • In 1970, they broke through with the album On The Waters. It included the single Make It With You, which became their only #1 song on the Billboard 100. While the song is attributed to the group, only Gates and Botts actually performed the song, with Gates handling vocals and all instruments except drums. One of the songs on their first album, It Don’t Matter To Me, was chosen for their next single. They recorded a different version, and released it in September 1970. It peaked at #10 on the chart.
  • By now, fans had fallen for Gates’ falsetto vocals and the group’s mellow rock sound and sappy love songs. Their third album, titled Manna, was released in 1971. It included the hit song If, which peaked at #5. The song became a favorite at wedding receptions. It’s one of those songs that is so cheesy, that it is fabulous – “If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you? The words will never show the you I’ve come to know….”
  • After their third album, Royer left the band due to conflicts with Gates, though he continued to co-write with Griffin on songs for future recordings by the band. Knechtel replaced Royer, and in 1972, Bread released the album Baby I’m-a Want You. It was their most successful album of original songs, reaching #3 on the album chart. It contained 3 hit singles – the title track peaked at #3, Everything I Own made it to #5, and the ultra-cheesy Diary landed at #15. Diary is a particular favorite of mine – brilliantly bad, it tells the story of a man who finds his gal’s diary under a tree, and reads about how the girl is in love, which surprises him because she is not receptive to his charm. Turns out she’s writing about another man – “…The words began to stick and tears to flow, her meaning now was clear to see….”
  • One more successful album followed – Guitar Man. The songs Sweet Surrender, Aubrey and the title track were all top 20 hits, with Sweet Surrender and Guitar Man reaching #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • By 1973, relationships in the band were strained. All of the group’s hits were songs by Gates, which Griffin resented. In May that year, after all of their equipment was stolen before a concert, they decided to disband. A Greatest Hits album was released that year, which was certified 5x platinum and reached #2 on the album chart.
  • The group reunited in 1977 for a final album, Lost Without Your Love. The title track made it to #9 on the Hot 100 chart. After a tour to support the album, the band split up until 1996. That year, they began a 25th anniversary tour. Their final performance was in 1997 – after that, the members resumed their solo careers.
  • I still can’t figure out why I love Bread so much. But I’m not ashamed to admit it. Here is Bread performing Make It With You in 1977 on The Midnight Special. 

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