Legendary all-American frontman and guitarist Mark Farner was the engine that pulled the original Grand Funk Railroad repeatedly to the top of the charts, and today, he's a platinum recording artist 30 times over. At age 75, Farner still commands the stage with the same intensity and outpouring of love as he did during the summer of 1969. Farner joined guest host Richard Syrett (Twitter) to discuss his remarkable life and career in music and why he works tirelessly to honor the nation's service personnel and veterans wherever they are stationed.
Farner recalled the music scene in Michigan and attributed its rich rock and roll history to the influx of people from various states who moved there for higher-paying auto factory jobs. He shared personal experiences from his mother's move to Michigan at 16 and how the state became a melting pot of musical styles, blending Northern and Southern influences without the racial discord prevalent in the South. This cultural mix birthed what he termed "assembly line rock and roll," shaped by kids from blue-collar families, referring affectionately to them as "shop rats."
Regarding his longevity in the music industry and maintaining his energy and soulful voice, Farner attributed it to continual use and practice. He humorously mentioned singing not just in the shower but also in the woods, noting the importance of keeping the vocal cords exercised. Farner expressed profound respect for veterans and their sacrifices, drawn from a family deeply involved in military service. He acknowledged the complexity of war, admitting his personal aversion to it but recognizing the necessity of those who risk their lives to defend freedoms.
Farner related personal stories about iconic figures like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, portraying moments of camaraderie and admiration within the music industry. He shared anecdotes about Joplin's mischievous antics on a helicopter and his starstruck encounter with Hendrix at the Fillmore East showcase.
The latter half of the program featured Open Lines. Ross from Detroit, Michigan, talked about growing up in Detroit in the mid-1970s, recalling the Motor City's influence on rock music. He cited notable bands, including MC5, The Rockets, Grand Funk Railroad, Mitch Ryder, and others, all interconnected within the local music scene. Ross also mentioned the invention of techno music in Detroit, admitting he is not personally fond of it.
Jerry in Nashville, Tennessee, shared a profound personal story as a disabled veteran advocating for medical cannabis. He detailed his struggle in Tennessee, where access to cannabis for veterans is restricted. He explained his health challenges due to opiates and his decision to turn to medical cannabis for relief. Jerry recounted the time he asked for a specific sign from God related to starting a nonprofit and trading stocks online. Astonishingly, moments later, he encountered a woman in need, and she expressed aspirations aligned with the signs he had requested, confirming his belief in divine guidance. Jerry emphasized the healing potential of cannabis for veterans and advocated for legalizing it nationwide.
Emma from Greensboro, North Carolina, shared a personal story about losing her father, recounting a dream she had about her father's death months before it occurred. The dream detailed a scene at a hospital resembling where her father later passed away. Despite initially feeling scared by the dream, Emma's mother reassured her about her father's health. Four months later, he unexpectedly pass away due to undetected stage four cancer.