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Profile: Bread (the band)


Profile: Bread (the band)



Claims to fame:

  • One of the most popular soft-rock outfits of the era
  • Bridged the gap between the British Invasion-influenced pop of the late Sixties and the sensitive singer-songwriter movement of the early Seventies
  • Leader David Gates' folk-rock-influenced ballads were disarmingly mellow yet lyrically heartbreaking
  • Helped to define the new California soft-rock sound that grew out of the area's folk and pop


1967 (Los Angeles, CA)


Soft rock, Pop, Adult contemporary, Folk rock, Rock and roll, Hard rock

Principal members:

David Gates (born December 11, 1940 in Tulsa, OK): lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, percussion
Jimmy Griffin (born James Arthur Griffin, August 10, 1943 in Cincinnati, OH; died January 11, 2005, Franklin, TN): lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
Larry Knechtel (born Lawrence William Knechtel, August 4, 1940 in Bell, CA; died August 20, 2009, Yakima, WA): guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica
Mike Botts (born Michael G. Botts, December 8, 1944 in Oakland, CA; died December 9, 2005, Burbank, CA): drums

Early years:

David Gates, the nominal leader of Bread, had already been playing live in various bands for four years by the time he moved to Los Angeles at 21. There, he immediately plugged himself into the burgeoning local scene, writing hits ("Popsicles and Icicles" by the Murmaids and "Saturday's Child" for the Monkees), and producing as well (Glenn Yarbrough's "Baby, The Rain Must Fall"). He also got to know the famous sessionmen known as The Wrecking Crew and released several solo singles, none of which found much success. By 1967 he was producing a psych-pop group called the Pleasure Faire.


Faire member Robb Royer suggested to Gates that they form their own group, along with mutual friend and L.A. scene vet Jimmy Griffin, and after being inspired by a bread truck passing by, the group Bread was born. At first, the group was heavily steeped in psych-pop, and all three members (session drummers were used for the first LP) wrote songs in many different styles. But it was a song from their second album, a Gates ballad called "Make It With You," that perfectly fit the parameters of the new mellow AM sound, and it rocketed to #1. The next ten singles, all ballads written and sung by Gates, hit the Top 40.

Later years:

Unfortunately, the other songwriting members of Bread wanted a crack at a single too, and it lead to internal dissension; making matters worse was the fact that Gates made two solo albums during the Bread years. Eventually, the group disbanded after Gates refused to yield on changing the hit formula. The other three members returned to session work, while Gates scored a hit on his own with the title song to the Neil Simon movie The Goodbye Girl. Bread managed to reunite twice: once in 1977 for a hit single and album, and more recently in 1996 for a full tour. Griffin, Botts, and Knechtel have all since passed away.

#1 Bread hits:

"Make It With You" (1970)

Adult Contemporary:
"Baby I'm-A Want You" (1971)
"If" (1971)
"Sweet Surrender" (1972)
"The Guitar Man" (1972)

Top 10 Bread hits:

"It Don't Matter To Me" (1970)
"Baby I'm-A Want You" (1971)
"If" (1971)
"Everything I Own" (1972)
"Lost Without Your Love" (1977)

Adult Contemporary:
"It Don't Matter To Me" (1970)
"Make It With You" (1970)
"Diary" (1972)
"Everything I Own" (1972)
"Aubrey" (1973)
"Hooked On You" (1977)
"Lost Without Your Love" (1977)

Top 10 Bread albums:

Baby I'm-A Want You (1972)
The Best Of Bread (1973)

Covered by:

Cake, Dusty Springfield, The Whispers, Kenny Rogers, The Living End, Boy George, Aretha Franklin, Billy Eckstein, Gerald LeVert, Teddy Pendergrass, Cilla Black, Peggy Lee, The Meters, Main Ingredient, Hootie and the Blowfish, Jack Jones, Andy Williams, Ken Boothe, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Earth Wind & Fire, Sugar Minott, Ray Parker Jr., Georgie Fame, Jude, Dolly Parton, Let Loose, Jane Monheit, Starflyer 59, Telly Savalas

Other Bread facts and trivia:

  • Robb Royer (bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion, flute) also played with the group through 1971; he was replaced by Wrecking Crew legend Larry Knechtel, who plays the lead on "Guitar Man"
  • Gates' high school band in Tulsa once backed Chuck Berry on a gig there
  • Gates also produced early singles by Captain Beefheart in 1966
  • Royer and Griffin also wrote the Carpenters' 1970 hit "For All We Know"
  • Botts later toured as a member of Linda Ronstadt and Dan Fogelberg's bands

Appears in the movies:

"Vanishing Point" (1971) (David Gates only)

Bread awards and honors:

  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2006)

Other important Bread songs:

"Dismal Day," "London Bridge," "Anyway You Want Me," "Look What You've Done," "The Last Time," "Let Your Love Go," "Truckin'," "Mother Freedom," "Down On My Knees," "Too Much Love," "Fancy Dancer," "She's The Only One," "Been Too Long On The Road," "Just Like Yesterday," "Daughter," "Dream Lady," "Yours For Life," "Friends And Lovers," "He's A Good Lad," "Could I," "Look At Me," "Why Do You Keep Me Waiting," "Call On Me," "Live In Your Love," "She Was My Lady," "Take Comfort," "Games Of Magic," "She Knows"
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