Bread (band)

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Bread 1971.JPG
The band in 1971 – David Gates, Robb Royer, Jimmy Griffin, Mike Botts
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Soft rock, folk rock
Years active 1968–1973; 1976-1978; 1996-1997
Labels Elektra, Rhino
Associated acts The Remingtons
The Pleasure Fair
Toast/Radio Dixie
Past members David Gates
Jimmy Griffin (deceased)
Robb Royer
Mike Botts (deceased)
Larry Knechtel (deceased)

Bread was an American soft rock band from Los Angeles, California. They placed 13 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1970 and 1977 and were an example of what later was labeled as soft rock.

The band consisted of David Gates (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, viola, percussion), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Robb Royer (bass, guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, recorder, backing vocals), Mike Botts (drums; joined in the summer of 1969) and Larry Knechtel (bass, guitar, keyboards, harmonica; replaced Royer in 1971).

Beginnings and fame[edit]

The band in 1970.

Before forming Bread, Gates had worked with Royer's previous band, The Pleasure Fair, producing and arranging the band's 1967 album, The Pleasure Fair. Royer then introduced Gates to his songwriting partner, Griffin, and the trio joined together in 1968 and signed with Elektra Records in January 1969, after choosing the name "Bread" in late 1968, supposedly after getting stuck in traffic behind a Wonder Bread truck. The group's first single, "Dismal Day", was released in June 1969 but did not chart. Their debut album, Bread, was released in September 1969 and peaked at No. 127 on the Billboard 200. Songwriting on the album was split evenly between Gates and the team of Griffin-Royer. Jim Gordon, a session musician, accompanied the band on drums for the album.

In the summer of 1969, Bread did some concerts with Gordon on drums. But when Gordon's schedule conflicted and he proved unavailable for future outings, they quickly brought in Mike Botts as their permanent drummer. Botts appeared on their second album, On the Waters (peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard 200). This time their efforts quickly established Bread as a major act with the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Make It with You" in 1970. "Make It with You" would be Bread's only No. 1 on the Hot 100.

For their next single, they released a re-recorded version of "It Don't Matter To Me", a Gates song from their first album. This single was a hit as well, reaching No. 10. Bread began touring and recording the 1971 album titled Manna (#21), which included the Top 5 hit single, "If". As with the first album, songwriting credits were split evenly between Gates and Griffin-Royer.

Royer left the group after three albums, although he would continue to write with Griffin, and was replaced by Larry Knechtel, a leading Los Angeles session musician who had played piano on Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" single in 1970. In January 1972 Bread released Baby I'm-a Want You, their most successful album, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The title song was established as a hit in late 1971 before the album was released, also hitting No. 3. Follow-up singles "Everything I Own" and "Diary" also went Top 20. The next album, Guitar Man, was released ten months later and went to No. 18. The album produced three Top 20 singles, "The Guitar Man" (#11), "Sweet Surrender" (#15), and "Aubrey" (#15), with the first two going to No. 1 on Billboard's adult contemporary chart.

Split and reunion[edit]

By 1973, fatigue from constant recording and touring had set in despite the band's success, and personal relationships began to show strain, especially between Gates and Griffin. All eleven of Bread's charting singles between 1970 and 1973 had been written and sung by Gates. Elektra Records had invariably selected Gates' songs for the A-sides of the singles, while Griffin felt that the singles should have been split between the two of them. There was also some dissatisfaction with the songs planned for a sixth album. Bread decided to disband.

Gates and Griffin returned to their solo careers with mixed results. The Best of Bread compilation album from 1973 was a huge success, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and staying on the chart for over two years. The follow-up, The Best Of Bread, Volume Two, was released in 1974 and went to No. 32.

The reunion of the group in 1976 came about after Elektra Records expressed interest in another Bread album. Gates, Griffin, Botts and Knechtel returned to the studio that year and recorded the album Lost Without Your Love, released in January 1977. The title track, again written and sung by Gates, was the band's last Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 9 on the singles chart. This comeback record reached No. 26 on Billboard's album chart and was Bread's seventh consecutive album (including the two best ofs) to be R.I.A.A. certified gold. In March 1977, Elektra released a second single, "Hooked On You". It was less successful on the pop chart (peaking at No. 60) but it reached No. 2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. The four members of Bread (along with session guitarist Dean Parks) toured throughout 1977 to support their comeback album. After a short break, they commenced the tour's second leg that summer without Griffin, whom Gates failed to invite after further rising tensions. They ended the year with no further plans to record as a group.

Following the break-up[edit]

In 1978 Gates enjoyed success as a solo artist with the hit singles "Goodbye Girl" (#15; from the movie The Goodbye Girl) and "Took the Last Train" (#30). He then toured with Botts and Knechtel as "David Gates & Bread". The group's 1978 touring line-up once again included Dean Parks for their June tour of the UK and Europe. But for their fall dates back in the US, Parks had left but the stage lineup had expanded to include Warren Ham (ex-Bloodrock; woodwinds, keyboards, backing vocals), Bill Ham (guitars) and David Miner (bass). This led to a legal dispute with Griffin over use of the band's name, of which Griffin was co-owner. In the dispute, Griffin again complained that Gates' songs were given preference as singles over his. The resulting litigation was not settled until 1984.

After leaving Bread in 1971, Royer stuck mostly to songwriting (still teaming up with Griffin on occasion). As with Griffin, his success was mostly in writing for artists in the country music field in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994 Royer, Griffin and Knechtel re-united under the name "Toast". Knechtel had continued to be an in-demand session player, backing up such artists as Elvis Costello. In 1994, after being out of the spotlight for thirteen years, Gates released a new solo album, Love is Always Seventeen.

Final reunion[edit]

In 1996, having settled their differences, Gates, Griffin, Botts and Knechtel reunited Bread for a successful "25th Anniversary" tour of the United States, South Africa, Europe and Asia. This time out the group was accompanied by Randy Flowers (guitars), Scott Chambers (bass) and a string section to help them capture the sound of the records. This tour was extended into 1997, which would be the last year the original members of Bread would ever perform together. Gates and the others then resumed their individual careers. Bread was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 2005 both Griffin and Botts died from cancer at the age of 61. In August 2009, Knechtel died of a heart attack at the age of 69, leaving Gates and Royer as the only surviving original members of Bread. Royer continues to be involved in music, initially working out of his Nashfilms studio in Tennessee before relocating to the Virgin Islands during 2013, while Gates contents himself with retirement at his home in California. In 2010 Royer released a Jimmy Griffin album consisting of songs written by both himself and Griffin.

During March 2014, Helter Skelter Publishing (UK) issued the first biography of the band, a limited edition hardback titled Bread: A Sweet Surrender (originally called Manna from Heaven: The Musical Rise & Fall of Bread).[1][2] It was written with the assistance of many surviving family members and musical colleagues of the band, along with exclusive interviews with founding member Robb Royer. A paperback/softcover edition is scheduled to appear at a later date.


Studio albums[edit]

RIAA Sales
Billboard 200
1969 Bread Elektra
1970 On the Waters Elektra
1971 Manna Elektra
1972 Baby I'm-a Want You Elektra
1972 Guitar Man Elektra
1977 Lost Without Your Love Elektra

Compilation albums[edit]

RIAA Sales
1973 The Best of Bread Elektra
5x Platinum
1974 The Best of Bread, Volume 2 Elektra
1977 The Sound of Bread Elektra
1985 Anthology of Bread Elektra
1989 The Very Best Of Bread Pickwick
1996 David Gates & Bread Essentials Elektra
1996 Retrospective Elektra
2002 Make It With You And Other Hits Flashback
2006 The Definitive Collection Elektra/Rhino
2007 The Works Warner Music Group UK



Date Title US Billboard Hot 100
UK Singles Chart
June 13, 1970
"Make It with You"
Certified Gold
September 26, 1970
"It Don't Matter to Me"
New 1970 version, different from 1969 album
January 2, 1971
"Let Your Love Go"
March 27, 1971
Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in its original form and in the UK in 1975 when covered by Telly Savalas.
July 17, 1971
"Mother Freedom"
October 23, 1971
"Baby I'm-a Want You"
Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. It was also Certified Gold.
January 29, 1972
"Everything I Own"
#1 in the UK when recorded by Ken Boothe in 1974, #93 when recorded by Crystal Gayle in 1983, and No. 1 when recorded by Boy George.
April 22, 1972
July 29, 1972
"The Guitar Man"
Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart in its original form
November 11, 1972
"Sweet Surrender"
Hit No. 1 in the Easy Listening chart.
February 3, 1973
November 27, 1976
"Lost Without Your Love"
April 16, 1977
"Hooked On You"


  • Date indicates the week the song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100
  • All songs above reached their peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 the same year they entered the chart except for "Lost Without Your Love" which peaked at No. 9 in 1977.


  1. ^ "Bread – A Sweet Surrender". Helter Skelter. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  2. ^ "Manna from heaven: the musical rise & fall of bread". WorldCat. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 77. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Bread - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  5. ^ "1970-09-12 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive". Official Charts. 1970-09-12. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  6. ^ "1972-02-05 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive". Official Charts. 1972-02-05. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  7. ^ "1972-05-20 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive". Official Charts. 1972-05-20. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  8. ^ "1972-10-28 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive". Official Charts. 1972-10-28. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  9. ^ "1977-01-29 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive". Official Charts. 1977-01-29. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 

External links[edit]