The original members of the group were Gary Loizzo on vocals, Charles Colbert, Jr. on bass guitar, Al Ciner on guitar, and Lee Graziano on drums. All members were from the greater Chicago area. As Gary & The Knight Lites, they were somewhat successful in Chicago and released one single. Soon afterwards, the group underwent several changes. They moved to the Acta record label (a subsidiary of Dot Records, itself owned by Paramount Pictures, whose record holdings later evolved into the Famous Music Group) and renamed themselves The American Breed. Two new members were also added by 1968: Kevin Murphy on keyboards and Andre Fischer on drums.
The band enjoyed its greatest success in 1967 and 1968. They released five singles that reached the charts, including "Step Out Of Your Mind", "Green Light" and "Bend Me, Shape Me". The latter track was their biggest seller, and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The track also peaked at #24 in the UK Singles Chart. The group went through several more name and personnel changes, but with Ciner and Murphy remaining as core members through the changes. First was shortening the name to 'The Breed', then renaming the band 'Smoke', before evolving to a R&B funk sound as 'Ask Rufus'. They added singer Paulette McWilliams, who was later replaced by Chaka Khan, and finally became Rufus, (former American Breed drummer Andre Fischer returned as Rufus's drummer during this period), and the band later scored their first Top 10 hit under the Rufus name with "Tell Me Something Good" in 1974. (Rufus signed with ABC Records, which later absorbed the Famous Music Group, and was itself sold to MCA Records in 1979). Fischer later married Natalie Cole.
The original four members of the band (Ciner, Loizzo, Colbert, and Graziano) briefly reunited in 1986 and recorded the album Once Again, featuring a new version of "Bend Me, Shape Me."
A compilation album, Bend Me, Shape Me: The Best of the American Breed, was released in 1994. "Bend Me, Shape Me" continues to receive occasional airplay on oldies radio stations.
In celebration of the 2005 baseball championship of the Chicago White Sox, the American Breed issued a CD single entitled "Rock with the Sox." The single was produced by Gary Loizzo.