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Bread

band gates hit royer

Bread, one of the defining bands in 1970s soft, middle-of-the-road rock, formed 1969, L.A. MEMBERSHIP: David Gates, voc, gtr., kybd. (b. Tulsa, Okla., Dec. 11, 1940); James Griffin, voc, gtr; (b. Nashville, Term.); Rob Royer, kybd.; Mike Botts, drm. (b. Sacramento, Calif.).

David Gates’ father, who directed the band and orchestra for the local high school, warned his son against playing music for a living, but Gates went after it anyway. He hooked up with his girlfriend’s brother, Leon Russell. Their band backed the likes of Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins when they came to town. They also made money by booking halls and playing dances.

Russell moved to Calif., and Gates followed. He started picking up session work, and even some production, including the first single for Captain Beefheart. One of those jobs for a duo called Pleasure Faire intrigued him. They decided to join forces. Pleasure Faire’s members were fairly well known in the L.A. music community. James Griffin (b. Nashville, Term.) and Rob Royer had cowritten “For All We Know” for the film Lover’s and Other Strangers, which would win an Oscar later that year. Royer had also recorded an album for Reprise. They changed the name of the band to Bread.

Their first record didn’t even break the Top 100. Deciding to give it one more shot before calling it a day, they added drummer Mike Botts (b. Sacramento, Calif.) and recorded On the Water . The album generated the #1 hit “Make It with You.” It became the first of a dozen hit singles and seven gold albums for the band. While they recorded some more up-tempo pop like “Let Your Love Go” (later used to advertise furniture) and “Mother Freedom,” they only managed to hit #28 and #37 respectively. It was the band’s soft hits that made their name. “If” (#4, 1971), one of the biggest wedding songs of the 1970s, would be covered by some 200 artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis to the Baja Marimba Band and Telly Savalas. Other hits included “It Don’t Matter to Me” (#10, 1970) and “Baby I’m-a Want You” (#3 and gold, 1971).

Royer left the band in 1971 to write screenplays. Replacing him with Larry Knechtel, Bread continued their hit streak: “Everything I Own” (#5, 1972), “Diary” (#15, 1972), “The Guitar Man” (#11, 1972), “Sweet Surrender” (#15, 1972), and “Aubrey” (#15, 1973). However, Griffin and Gates ceased to get along and the group broke up.

Gates had a minor solo hit, “Never Let Her Go” (#29, 1975), but the band reformed in 1976, recording the #9 hit “Lost without Your Love.” The reunion didn’t last. Botts joined Linda Ronstadt’s band. Gates had a couple of more hits, the theme song from the Neil Simon film The Goodbye Girl (#15, 1978) and “Took the Last Train” (#30, 1978). He continued to record and produce, recording Love Is Always 17 in 1994 and working on country artist Billy Dean’s 1998 LP. In 1997, Bread went out on a year-long 25th anniversary tour.

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