Mark Fredrick Farner (born September 29, 1948) is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known as the lead singer and lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad, and later as a contemporary Christian musician.
Farner began his career in music by playing in Terry Knight and The Pack (1965–1966), The Bossmen (1966–1967), The Pack (aka The Fabulous Pack) (1967–1968), before forming Grand Funk Railroad with Don Brewer (drums) and Mel Schacher (bass guitar) in 1969. Craig Frost (keyboards) joined the band in 1972. Farner has Cherokee ancestry from his maternal side.
Farner was the guitarist and lead singer for Grand Funk Railroad as well as the songwriter for most of their material. His best-known composition is the 1970 epic “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)”. He also wrote the 1975 hit “Bad Time”, the last of the band’s four singles to make the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After Grand Funk initially disbanded in 1976, Farner released his self-titled debut solo album in 1977, and his second, No Frills, in 1978 (both Atlantic Records). In 1981, Farner and Don Brewer launched a new Grand Funk line-up with bassist Dennis Bellinger and recorded two albums, Grand Funk Lives and What’s Funk? Farner went solo again with 1988’s Just Another Injustice on Frontline Records.
His third Frontline release was 1991’s Some Kind of Wonderful, which featured a revamped Jesus version of the Grand Funk classic of the same name. Farner became a born again Christian in the late 1980s and enjoyed success with the John Beland composition “Isn’t it Amazing”, which earned him a Dove Award nomination and reached No. 2 on the Contemporary Christian music charts.
In the 1990s, Farner formed Lismark Communications with former Freedom Reader editor Steve Lisuk. Soon after, Farner began reissuing his solo albums on his own record label, LisMark Records.
From 1994 to 1995, Farner toured with Ringo Starr’s Allstars, which also featured Randy Bachman, John Entwistle, Felix Cavaliere, Billy Preston, and Starr’s son, Zak Starkey.
In the late 1990s, Farner reunited with Grand Funk, but left after three years to resume his solo career. He currently tours with his band, Mark Farner’s American Band, which plays a mixture of Grand Funk songs and Farner’s solo offerings.
Farner had a pacemaker installed October 22, 2012, having struggled with heart troubles for the previous eight years.
Mark Farner was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2015. He had previously been inducted as a member of both Grand Funk Railroad and Terry Knight & The Pack.
Farner was honored with the Lakota Sioux Elders Honor Mark in 1999. During the concert in Hankinson, North Dakota, a special presentation was held honoring Mark’s Native ancestry and his contributions. Members of the Lakota Nation presented him with a hand-made ceremonial quilt. He has also been honored with the Cherokee Medal of Honor by the Cherokee Honor Society.
An authorized biography of Farner, entitled From Grand Funk to Grace, was published in 2001.
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Mark Farner is mentioned by Homer Simpson in The Simpsons episode, “Homerpalooza”, in season 7, episode 24 of the series. As Homer drives his children and their friends to school, Grand Funk is on the car radio. The children do not like it and ask him to change the station when he responds, “you kids don’t know Grand Funk? The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner. The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher. The competent drum work of Don Brewer?”
Mark Farner was mentioned in episode 9 of season 8 of the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm in September 2011. (wikipedia)
And here´s his second solo-album after leaving Grand Funk Railroad:
Grand Funk Railroad’s most potent and primal recordings (such as Closer to Home and their 1970 live album) were cut as a power trio, and even their more polished later work on We’re an American Band and Shinin’ On only added a keyboard player to the mix, so when GFR guitarist and singer Mark Farner went into the studio to cut his second solo album in 1978, the LP’s title summed up the approach: No Frills. Producer Jimmy Iovine set Farner up with a good rhythm section (bassist Dennis Bellinger and drummer Andy Newmark), took them into the studio and rolled tape. What could go wrong? Well, Farner’s songwriting chops weren’t what they once were, and while he could pen a worthy mass of power chords earlier in his career, the mixture of pop, soul, and hard rock that informs most of these tunes lack the clarity and force of his best work.
The lyrics aren’t especially inspired, either, though “If It Took All Day” is at least funny and “He Sent Me You” anticipates the tone of his later Christian recordings. The lack of musical focus also impacts Farner’s guitar work, which doesn’t approach the full-bodied grit of Grand Funk’s glory days (and who told the guy to go crazy with the flanger, anyway?). Bellinger and Newmark play just fine, but it’s clear they don’t have quite the same empathy for this music as Mel Schacher and Don Brewer, and the engineering is too slick and doesn’t have the muscle to give this the loud and proud punch it needs. No Frills may have been a good philosophy for Mark Farner, but he needed a bit more than that to make an album worthy of his hard rock legacy. (by Mark Deming)
Dennis Bellinger (bass, background vocals)
Mark Farner (guitar, vocals, clavinet, piano)
Andy Newmark (drums)
Karen Lawrence (background vocals on 06.)
01. He Sent Me You (Farner) 3.17
02. If It Took All Day (Farner) 3.14
03. When A Man Loves A Woman (Wright/Lewis) 3.46
04. Faith Keeps It Away (Farner) 4.49
05. Crystal Eyes (Farner) 3.56
06. Just One Look (Payne/Carroll) 2.47
07. All The Love You Give Me (Farner) 4.49
08. Cool Water (Farner) 3.16
09. Without You (Farner) 2.07
The official website: