Grass Roots, The

views updated

Grass Roots, The

Grass Roots, The, one of the biggest American Top 40 bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s, formed 1964, in Los Angeles, Calif. MEMBERSHIP: Steve Barri(b. N.Y.C., Feb. 23, 1941); P.P. Sloan, voc. (b. Los Angeles, 1946); Rob Grill, voc., bs. (b. Los Angeles, Nov. 30, 1944); Warren Entner, gtr., voc. (b. Boston, July 7, 1944); Creed Bratton, gtr. (b. Sacramento, Calif., Feb. 8, 1943); Rick Coonce (real name, Erick Michael Coonce), drm. (b. Los Angeles, Aug 1, 1947).

The group was originally a vehicle for songwriters Steve Barri and P.P. Sloan, a West Coast-based writing team that specialized in pop songs. They had scored a huge hit with Barry McGuire’s recording of their “Eve of Destruction” and were looking for a band to back their next creation, the song “Where Were You When I Needed You.” They hired a local group called the Bedouins, renamed them the Grass Roots, and cut two songs, including the #28 “Where Were You When I Needed You.” However, the band then disappeared, leaving the record company “rootless.”

Meanwhile, a local L.A. band, the 13th Floor, was on the verge of signing with Dunhill. This band, including vocalists Rob Grill and Warren Entner, were offered the choice of starting cold or becoming the Grass Roots and picking up with a hit already under their belt. They opted for the latter, cutting a new version of an Italian hit. The song, “Live for Today” rose to #8 in the summer of 1967. The album of the same name only hit #75, setting the general tone for their history on LP. After trying to write their own material for 1967’s Feelings album (with commercially disastrous results), the band recorded again with Barri, releasing “Midnight Confessions” Informed by an orchestrated Motown groove, it set the tone for the rest of the band’s career. The record went to #5 and mined gold for the band. Even the album, Golden Grass, lived up to its name, going gold and hitting #25. “I’d Wait A Million Years’7

was another big hit in this mold, hitting #15 in 1969. After spending 1970 dealing with line-up changes, with Bratton leaving, replaced by Denny Provisor and Terry Furlong, the group came back strong in 1971 with a string of hits that included “Temptation Eyes” (#15, 1971), “Sooner Or Later” (#9, 1971) and “Two Divided By Love” (#16, 1971). This was the group’s last great year of original hits, though they did hit the lower rungs of the Top 40 twice in 1972.

Grill continues to tour as the Grass Roots. Warren Entner went on to become a manager, representing some of the more lucrative hard rock bands including Ratt and Faith No More.


Where Were You When I Needed You? (1966); Let’s Live for Today (1967); Feelings (1968); Lwin’ Things (1969); Leavin’ It All Behind (1969); Move Along (1972); A Lot of Mileage (1973); Grass Roots (1975); Powers of the Night (1982); Temptation Eyes (1985).

—Hank Bordowitz