Terry Knight

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Terry Knight
Birth name Richard Terrance Knapp
Born (1943-04-09)April 9, 1943
Lapeer, Michigan
Died November 1, 2004(2004-11-01) (aged 61)
Temple, Texas
Genres Rock, Pop
Occupations Singer, songwriter, Manager, Promoter, Radio Personality
Years active 1963–1973
Labels Capitol Records
Associated acts Terry Knight and the Pack, Grand Funk Railroad, ? and the Mysterians

Terry Knight (April 9, 1943 – November 1, 2004), born Richard Terrance Knapp, was an American rock and roll music producer, promoter, singer, songwriter and radio personality, who enjoyed some success in radio, modest success as a singer, but phenomenal success as the original manager-producer for Grand Funk Railroad and the producer for Bloodrock.

Early career[edit]

Knight was born on April 9, 1943 in Lapeer, Michigan. After graduating from high school in 1961, he briefly attended Alma College before dropping out. Knight's music career began as a Detroit DJ in 1963 when he replaced Dave Shafer as "Jack the Bellboy" on WJBK, coming to Detroit from Flint, Michigan's legendary Top 40 rocker WTAC. The following year, he moved across the river to CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. Arguably the first American DJ to air the Rolling Stones, he hosted a legendary late night show from high-powered CKLW, bringing the British Invasion to the Northern states. He was awarded the honorary title of "The Sixth Stone" for his early support of the Stones. By the end of 1964, however, Knight had left CKLW and the radio business, intending to pursue his own career in music.

Around 1965, Knight fashioned his own songwriting and performing career in Flint by becoming the front man for Terry Knight and the Pack. With this band, Knight recorded a handful of regional hits for local Lucky Eleven Records, part of the Cameo-Parkway Records group, including his self-penned generation gap anthem "A Change On The Way," as well as scoring two national hits, a tasteful cover of the Yardbirds' "(Mister, You're A) Better Man Than I" and his ultra-lounge reading of Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" (which came close to making the national top 40, peaking at #46). The band also left behind two long-playing garage classics before breaking up in 1967. (Brownsville Station honored Knight and the Pack with a cover of the Knight-penned "Love, Love, Love, Love, Love" on their '73 album Yeah!)

Producer and solo career[edit]

In 1967 Knight moved to New York, and attempted a solo career as a singer and staff producer with the Cameo-Parkway label, with limited success. He produced and wrote a handful of tracks by other artists, including garage band Question Mark & the Mysterians and the easy-listening International Pop Orchestra. He also scored music for the 20th Century Fox noir classic The Incident. Knight traveled to London in 1968, hoping to become a recording artist and or producer for The Beatles' newly formed Apple Records. Knight met Paul McCartney and was present at Beatles recording sessions for the White Album including a session where Ringo Starr temporarily quit the group. Knight was surprised to find the group members arguing with each other. Knight soon left London after he was unable to negotiate a contract with acceptable terms.[1]

"Saint Paul"[edit]

In early 1969 Knight secured a producer's contract with Capitol Records which also allowed him to release his own songs as a solo artist. He wrote and recorded a single, "Saint Paul" which may have contributed to the "Paul is dead" hoax that erupted late in the year.

The cryptic lyrics of the song are generally thought to allude to Knight's failed relationship with McCartney and his apparent belief that The Beatles would soon break up. The lyrics do not refer to death but were interpreted by some fans as containing clues. The ending repeats the phrase "hey Paul" in an arrangement that sounds very similar to The Beatles' song Hey Jude. There are also 2 different stereo mixes in circulation. The longer 5 minute version also contains a high pitched voice singing lines from other Beatles songs, including, "Hello, Goodbye", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "She Loves You." The 4 minute mix of the song does not contain the additional song excerpts.

Initial copies of the single listed Terry Knight's company, Storybook Music, as the publisher of "Saint Paul." After Capitol received a cease and desist letter from The Beatles' music publisher Maclen Music (the U.S. division of Northern Songs) the record was pulled from distribution.

A deal was apparently worked out between Knight and Maclen Music. About a month later in May 1969 "Saint Paul" was re-issued with a publishing credit by Maclen.[2] The second pressing of the record also contains a note on the label which states that "Hey Jude" is used by permission. The re-assignment of publishing rights made Knights' song the only non Lennon–McCartney tune owned by Maclen. "Saint Paul" reached the top 40 in a few cities in the upper Midwest region but failed to make the national Billboard Hot 100 chart. The fact that "Saint Paul" was re-published by Maclen was seen by some Beatle fans as evidence of a conspiracy involving Knight, The Beatles and the "Paul is dead" rumors.

"Saint Paul" was re-recorded in 1969 by New Zealand singer Shane and became one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s in that country. In the early 1990s author Andru Reeve repeatedly tried to interview Knight while writing a book about the "Paul is dead" hoax. However Reeve was unable to get Knight to talk about the song.

Grand Funk Railroad[edit]

Still working as a producer with Capitol, Knight renewed his connection with two former Pack members, guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer. Knight encouraged the two to add a new bass player and become a "power trio" along the lines of Cream. The group quickly added former Mysterians bassist Mel Schacher and changed their name to "Grand Funk Railroad." While becoming their manager-producer, Knight helped steer the trio to international fame, beginning with his getting them onto the bill---for free---at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival. This live performance convinced Capitol to sign the trio. For the next two years, Grand Funk Railroad became the most popular rock attraction in the United States despite mixed critical reviews that Knight cannily exploited as part of their appeal; he also discovered and produced the Fort Worth, Texas group Bloodrock, who hit the Top 40 in early 1971 with the unlikely death anthem "D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival)."

Between Grand Funk and Bloodrock, Knight racked up an unprecedented eight gold albums while simultaneously waging a war of words with Rolling Stone over the magazine's frequent pannings of the two acts. But by early 1972, both Grand Funk and Bloodrock had severed their professional relations with Knight. In Grand Funk's case, it involved court actions that kept the band tied up for almost two full years; they'd demanded full royalty accounting and accused Knight of double-dipping as manager-producer while the trio hadn't been getting all the monies they'd earned. For his part, Knight would claim the band had had only three months left on their contract with him when they first took him to court and could have been free with half the legal aggravation; the trio ultimately won their separation from Knight but at heavy cost, before adding keyboard player Craig Frost and continuing a successful recording and touring career through 1976.

Life After Grand Funk[edit]

Knight was also dropped from Capitol soon after the Grand Funk court actions were resolved and began his own label, Brown Bag Records, releasing albums and singles by Mom's Apple Pie,[3] John Hambrick, Wild Cherry and Faith. None of them found commercial success and, in late 1973, Knight retired permanently from show business. He associated with super model Twiggy and raced cars with film star Paul Newman in the mid-1970s before becoming addicted to cocaine, which consumed him. By the 1980s he had straightened himself out, settling in Yuma AZ with his wife and daughter Danielle. He melded into the community working in advertising sales for a weekly newspaper.

Death[edit]

On November 1, 2004 Terry Knight was murdered at the age of 61. Knight was stabbed multiple times in a fight with his daughter's boyfriend in their shared apartment in Temple, Texas. Knight was trying to defend his daughter. On November 26, 2005, his killer, Donald A. Fair, was sentenced to life in prison. Knight was cremated and buried in a family plot in Lapeer, Michigan. He is survived by his daughter Danielle. Four years after his death, Terry Knight and The Pack were voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Terry Knight Refuses Apple but Still Comes out on Top", Detroit Free Press (May 2, 1969), p. 5C.
  2. ^ [1] "Who Buried Paul McCartney" TV program produced by Netherlands Film and Television Accedemy
  3. ^ Perrone, Pierre. (November 10, 2004) The Independent. Obituary: Terry Knight - Controversial manager of Grand Funk Railroad.
  4. ^ http://www.michiganrockandrolllegends.com

External links[edit]