Gil Bridges (Rare Earth) 2005 May 1, 2011 12:23:12 GMT -6
Post by classic rock revival on May 1, 2011 12:23:12 GMT -6
CLASSIC ROCK REVIVAL
This is an interview I did will Gil Bridges in 2005.
Jim: Rare Earth began as an R&B band called the Sunliners in Detroit in 1961. How successful was the Sunliners and how did the band evolve into Rare Earth?
Gil: The Sunliners existed from 1958 to 1968. We developed our R&B roots through playing "Motown" music in clubs. We became a very popular club group by the mid - 60's. We changed our name to Rare Earth in 1968.
Jim: Who came up with the name Rare Earth and was it basically yours and Peter Rivera's band?
Gil: I'm not sure who in the group suggested the name, Rare Earth. But, out of about fifty suggestions it's the name that stuck. I was in the Sunliners before Peter Rivera and became the leader upon the departure of Fred Saxon, and still lead Rare Earth today.
Jim: Why did Peter leave the band, and are you and he on good terms today?
Gil: Peter in 1974 decided that because he was the lead singer (one of them), he didn't need the band and tried to take the name for himself because that would let him make all the money. Peter put money over the long friendships of all in the band, Peter was all about money. A New York jury trial ensued for over a year and in the end I was awarded the name. He lost by time, and I haven't spoken to peter since 1984.
Jim: Rare Earth wasn't the only white group on Motown Records, but you were the only one that went on to become very successful. What made you decide to go with Motown?
Gil: We decided to sign with Motown when they told us we would have our own lable, named, Rare Earth, a totally seperate division. We knew they were serious about making Rare Earth a household name.
Jim: Is it true that during the recording sessions for your first album, the band essentially ran out of material and did a 21-minute rendition of the Temptation's "Get Ready" to fill out the space and later edited it down to three minutes and scored your first top ten hit?
Gil: We played "Get Ready", for two years in clubs before we recorded it. We stretched it out with solos and everybody loved it. We would only play it at the end of the night in clubs and the people would stay to hear it. We thought it could be a hit if we recorded it and so it was.
Jim: "Ecology," was not really the group's second album, but your third. An album entitled "Generation," was recorded as the soundtrack to the film of the same name. When the film stalled at the box office, the album was shelved, is that correct?
Gil: Yes, "Generation," was shelved because the movie was a bomb.
Jim: With two albums, two top 10 hits "Get Ready", and "(I Know) I'm Losing You", and a top 20 hit "Born To Wander", you guys must have felt like you were on top of the world. What was it like being in a hit band back in those days, and did you ever think Rare Earth would stand the test of time as long as you have?
Gil: Within a years time after "Get Ready," caught on we all moved to California with the Motown Records Corporation and bought big houses. It all happened so fast it was hard to grasp and very exciting. I was now playing with and meeting all the groups that I loved.
I really would never have believed I would still be doing this 35 years later. Being considered a classic rock band is great and a blessing I never expected.
Jim:"One World," followed almost exactly a year after "Ecology", and yielded another hit single in a longtime classic, "I Just Want to Celebrate." The song peaked on the charts at number 7 giving you your third top ten hit, which up to this point had all been remakes of previous hits. But your 4th studio album, "Willie Remembers", featured all original songs. I thought it was a good album and really liked "Good Time Sally", which was only a minor hit. What's your opinion of "Willie Remembers?"
Gil: "Willie Remembers", came about when the band decided we wanted to test our writing and producing skills because we felt Motown was controlling our creativity. When the album was finished we gave it to Motown and they said they could not sell this album because it was to WHITE sounding and wanted us to go in and record an album with Norman Whitfield, which we did that resulted in the "Ma", album. Motown only released about 200,000 copies of "Willie Remembers." I liked "Willie Remembers", and thought Motown should have given it a chance and promoted it.
Jim: Did Motown tightened the creative grip on the band after Willie Remembers? Also, didn't the band record a couple of songs with Stevie Wonder during this period that remain unreleased today?
Gil: Yes, "Willie...," was the only time Motown gave us our reins.
Stevie Wonder was Motown's first pick to produce Rare Earth. It was early in our career and Stevie's first attempt at producing. Peter Rivera could immulate people and Stevie had Peter sounding (singing) just like him. This didn't work out unfortunately because the songs he wrote for us were great. But, they weren't all completed and never released.
Jim: After the "Ma", album problems developed within the band which resulted in Rare Earth not touring for the most part of 1974. But, the band rebounded in 1975 with the "Back To Earth", album. Can you tell us a bit about that period?
Gil: When Peter Rivera quit in 1974 I replaced him with Jerry La Croix from Edgar Winter's group to sing lead. A drummer named Barry Frost (aka "Frosty") from Lee Michaels' group and we added a second guitar player, Paul Warren and keyboardist, Gabriel Kotona. We continued touring with this group for about a year after the release of the "Back To Earth", album.
In 1978 Motown asked Rare Earth if we would record again. We said yes, but we won't tour together. We recorded "Band Together," and "Grand Slam," back to back. There was not much success with either album.
Jim: Tell us about the current version of Rare Earth, the band members, how the current band came together?
Gil: The current Rare Earth consists of:
Gil Bridges - Sax, Flute, Lead Vocals (original member).
Randy Burghdoff - Bass, Vocals ( band member for 22 years).
Floyd Stokes - Drums, Lead Vocals (band member for 12 years).
Mike Bruner - Keyboards (band member for 8 years).
Ivan Greilick - Guitar, Vocals (band member for 2 years).
Jim: Up until a couple of years ago Ray Monette was still with you, can you tell us about his departure from the band?
Gil: Ray Monette left Rare Earth after being in the group for 35 years to play with the Funk Brothers. In 1970 he was doing sessions with the Funk Brothers for Motown. We got Ray to come with Rare Earth because we were riding a hit with "Get Ready," . He decided to make a change in his life. We are still friends and talk all the time. We miss him but have replaced him with Ivan Greilick who we think is fantastic and doing a great job taking Ray's place.
Jim: What does the future hold for Rare Earth? A new studio CD, concert DVD?
Gil: We have recently recorded a CD of our show which can be purchased on the Rare Earth Official Website
and at our shows. We are now in the process of writing new material and recording a new Rare Earth CD. It should be available by the years end.
© classic rock revival. all rights reserved.
Interview by; Jim Davenport
© classic rock revival. all rights reserved.