For years, Historic Everett Theatre manager Curt Shriner has wanted to book Mark Farner.
The stars have finally aligned.
Farner, the frontman for Grand Funk Railroad during its early-1970s heyday, is performing on June 9 at the theater on Colby Avenue.
“He was the driving force behind Grand Funk Railroad,” Shriner said. “He’s the engine that made it go.”
Farner, 69, will play Grand Funk’s biggest hits — such as “We’re an American Band” and “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” — and songs he’s written with his American band. Joining him on stage will be his brother, bassist Eric Farner, as well as drummer Hubert Crawford and keyboardist Jimmy Olson.
“We’re going to give them a lot of love,” Farner said. “That’s a promise.”
Grand Funk Railroad, founded in 1969, featured Farner on guitar, Don Brewer on drums and Mel Schacher on bass. The Flint, Michigan, band sold millions of records at the height of its popularity.
Farner quit Grand Funk in 1976, then returned for a time during the 1980s and ’90s before falling out with his bandmates over legal issues. He embarked on a solo career in rock and contemporary Christian music.
Farner got into music at age 15, when a knee injury cut his football career short. His mother, knowing that he had an inkling for the spotlight, bought him a guitar.
“Five years later, I’m standing in front of 180,000 people in Atlanta, Georgia, playing the songs that I wrote,” Farner said.
Though never a critical favorite, Grand Funk Railroad was highly successful as a touring band.
Farner still enjoys fielding questions about his former band’s most famous songs.
He wrote “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” in 1970 after waking from a dream. The 10-minute track is about a ship captain lost at sea who longs for home but fears a mutiny by his crew.
The lyrics “I’m getting closer to home” are repeated for the last four minutes of the track, possibly indicating the captain’s death. Orchestra strings gradually rise and drown out Farner’s voice.
Farner is hush on the deeper meaning of the song, which became an anthem for some Vietnam War veterans, instead preferring to let fans interpret the song however they see fit.
“Whatever that song means to them, that’s what it means,” Farner said.
Like the captain in the song, Farner has faced hardships of his own. His youngest son, Jesse, was left a quadriplegic by a 2010 accident. Farner himself had serious heart problems and now has a pacemaker.
None of it has deterred his passion for music. He performs out of love for Grand Funk Railroad’s fans.
“We give it up to love before we go on stage,” Farner said. “Nothing but good vibes.”
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, email@example.com.
If you go
Mark Farner’s American Band is performing with Medicine Hat at 7 p.m. June 9 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. Tickets from $50.
More about Farner at www.markfarner.com
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