The American Breed

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The American Breed
American Breed 1968.JPG
The American Breed in 1968. L to R: Gary Loizzo, Al Ciner, Charles Colbert, Jr., Lee Graziano
Background information
Origin Cicero, Illinois
Genres Rock

The American Breed was an American rock band that was formed in 1966 and disbanded in 1969, later evolving into Rufus.


The group was formed in Cicero, Illinois as Gary & The Knight Lites. The group's greatest success was the single, "Bend Me, Shape Me," which reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. The song, written by Scott English and Larry Weiss, was a remake of a recording by The Outsiders that had been released the year before. The group also appeared on the 16 December 1967 episode of the television show American Bandstand, along with Pink Floyd.

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,[1] 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".[2] The latter track was their biggest seller, and sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[3] The track also peaked at #24 in the UK Singles Chart.[4] 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."[5]

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.[6]

The American Breed appeared also on the soundtrack to the films No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) and The Brain (1969).

Best known lineup[edit]

  • Gary Loizzo - vocals, guitar (born August 16, 1945, Chicago)
  • Al Ciner - guitar (born May 14, 1947, Chicago)
  • Kevin Murphy - keyboards (born 1947, Chicago)
  • Charles Colbert - bass (born August 30, 1939, Chicago)
  • Lee Graziano - drums (born November 9, 1943, Chicago)[3]


Year Album Billboard 200 Record Label
1967 The American Breed - Acta Records
1968 Bend Me, Shape Me 99
Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green -
Lonely Side of the City -
1986 Once Again - ABM Records


Year Title US UK Record Label B-side Album
1967 "Step Out of Your Mind" 24 Acta Records "Short Skirts" The American Breed
"Don't Forget About Me" 107 "Same Old Thing"
"Bend Me, Shape Me" 5 24 "Mindrocker" Bend Me, Shape Me
1968 "Green Light" 39 "Don't It Make You Cry"
"Ready, Willing and Able" 84 "Take Me if You Want Me" Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green
"Anyway That You Want Me" 88 "Master of My Fate"
1969 "Hunky Funky" 107 "Enter Her Majesty"


  1. ^ Unknown, doowopcollector. "Gary & the Knight Lites_Will You Go Steady". White Doo-Wop Collector. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Bend Me, Shape Me also reached number 9 in the German charts; Ehnert, Günter (ed.): Hit Bilanz. Deutsche Chart Singles 1956-1980. Hamburg: Taurus Press, 1990, p. 15
  3. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 215. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 22. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ American Breed- Once Again Retrieved 5-26-2014.
  6. ^ Tom Lounges (2005). "White Sox Glory Put To Song…". Midwest Beat Magazine. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 

External links[edit]