Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Of Your Thoughts On Rob Grill


LOTS of Rob Grill comments coming in regarding the passing of Rob Grill ... 
and pretty much the topic of discussion everywhere you turn this week. (We've covered The Grass Roots dozens and dozens of times in Forgotten Hits over the years ... and ALWAYS to VERY positive response from our readers.  They truly are, in every sense of the word, Fan Favorites ... and they released a collection of songs over their career that MOST artists would die for.  So why is it that for me personally, when I think of The Grass Roots, I just can't get past the image of legendary Sportscaster Chet Coppock losing his virginity to "Let's Live For Today" ... but hey, that's just my OWN personal hang-up!!! lol)

Anyway, here is what some of you have been saying ...

We've received some sad news today ... our good friend Rob Grill of The Grass Roots has passed away. It's so hard to believe that a life force as powerful as Rob is gone from us.
It's no secret that Rob was a great entertainer, a very funny guy and a fan favorite ... but he was also a good friend to those of us in the "business". We always looked forward to performing with Rob and the band, and enjoyed spending time with him backstage, at dinner and after the shows. Rob was always good for a laugh, a wink and a smile and a great story or two, and he really knew how to whip a crowd into a frenzy onstage.
He took his music seriously - he loved the Grass Roots music and what it meant to his generation as much as anyone - but not so seriously that he didn't take time to really enjoy life. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Nancy Grill and family. You have so many wonderful memories of Rob and his fabulous career to hold onto, as do we all.  
To paraphrase Rob, "Rob - you always did know how to throw a party!", and it was always a party when Rob Grill and The Grass Roots were on the bill.
We love you, buddy ... you'll be missed greatly by your friends and fans alike.
Paul, Doug, Danny, Ron, Darren and Tommy
Paul Revere and The Raiders

I met Rob for the first time in Hawaii in 1969. Three Dog Night and The Grass Roots were performing there. Rob was a friend of mine when we were in our twenties and early thirties and we had some fun times at The Troubadour singing harmony.
RIP, my old friend! You are already missed!
Chuck Negron

Saw your tribute to Rob, it's very nice, you did a great job. So sad. Appreciate you printing the sentiments of other artists as well. Looking on the Internet I see that there's no mention yet at or on  but there is a very nice letter on the Paul Revere and the Raiders web site's home page  with one of the best pictures I've ever seen of Rob.
Thanks for the great work you do.
I saw postings on both of the websites you mentioned ... maybe they just wanted to give the family a little "breathing room" first before putting the word out.  I know I've read Nancy Grill's official statement in at least a dozen different sources.  Very sad indeed.  So much great music.  (kk)

Hi Kent:
I was really saddened by the loss of Rob, who I had gotten to know through work with the Cryan' Shames.  He really has had his health challenges throughout the years, but still kept his sense of humor throughout it all. I last saw him a few years ago on one of our band cruises not to soon after one of his hip surgeries.  Joking as ever, he kept asking Paul Revere (who had just had rotator cuff surgery) if he could borrow a pain pill.  His music will be loved forever - I remember a DJ when I was in college who decided to dedicate "Temptation Eyes" over and over again to me on the radio because he wanted to get my attention.  He didn't and was promptly fired.  However it still is one of my favorite songs along with "Sooner or Later" from my college days.  Another cute story is when in Oak Lawn a band had cancelled at a bar and the Grassroots filled in at the very last minute.  Only 12 of us were present, so it was like a private party.
Sue Patterson
I seem to remember The Grass Roots being one of those bands you could "win" for a performance at your high school if you collected enough gum wrappers (or some such nonsense!!!)  What a different time it was.  Love 'em 'tho ... and I always have!  (kk)

Yep!  There it is!!!
(OK ... tell the truth ... how many of you girls out there made those crazy gum-wrapper chains back in high school ... raise your hands!!!)  kk 

One of my favorite bands of the '60's and '70's was The Grass Roots.  While we all know that Rob has had his share of problems these last few years, it is still sad to think that such a great talent has left us.  Most people probably think of The Grass Roots as a band that had two or three hits -- and radio has kind of helped to diminish them to that -- but a look at your recent "Hit List" shows just how many really great hits they had.  Radio should play more of these songs, as we all know them and love them.  And not just now in the wake of Rob's passing -- but all the time -- because they deserve to be heard.

Thinking about this great band this morning, I was reminded just how important they've been to us for all these years. In the mid 1980s they made an appearance here on an evening when I had to be out of town on business. No worries - my wife took our kids, then 4 and 6, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. You can't start kids too early on appreciating this music. We're working on the grandkids now.
Frannie may remember this spot I'm attaching. I clipped it from a KLIF aircheck from '69.
David Lewis

Great clip ... and the one you sent me from WMAK (with the custom "Sooner Or Later" intro) is one of my all-time favorites.  I swear, I ONLY hear the song that way now ... VERY clever marketing idea!  (kk)

One of the things I was most impressed with regarding The Grass Roots was how they actually had TWO lead singers back in the early hit year, a very unusual line-up because of the way they traded their vocals back and forth on many of those early hits.  While Rob Grill kept the band name alive for the next several decades, Warren Entner certainly held his own in the vocals department.
It's true ... look at some of those early TV clips and these guys play off each other regularly ... and PERFECTLY compliment each other's vocal style.  (kk)

I tried to find an official online statement from Creed Bratton, original Grass Roots lead guitarist (and now, for the past seven years, a regular, hysterical fixture on TV's "The Office") ... but was surprised not to see one.  Reading through some of his web pages, Creed seems to be a bit partial toward Warren Entner more so than Rob Grill.  Anybody know anything about that?  Did they have a falling out at some point?  I know Creed left the band around 1970 / 1971.  Hardly just a '60's band, the hits kept right on comin' ... and the group never really changed their style or sound.  Post-1970 Top 20 Hits include "Temptation Eyes" (#15, 1971), "Sooner Or Later" (#9, 1971) and "Two Divided By Love" (#16, 1971).  Rob Grill used to talk about "the one that got away" in concert ... seems that The Grass Roots were given first crack at "Don't Pull Your Love" but Rob didn't hear any hit potential in the song.  It went on to become a #1 Hit in the hands of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds!  He would then perform it live in concert and it sounded EXCELLENT!  In fact, it sounds JUST like a Grass Roots song!  (And let's not forget The Grass Roots' recording of "It's A Cryin' Shame", a song we recently featured by Gayle McCormick!  BOTH of these versions sound like hit records to me!  (kk)

Singer for 60s band The Grass Roots dies in US
Posted on July 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm
(AP) — An official in Florida says the lead singer of 1960s rock band The Grass Roots has died near Orlando.
Rob Grill sang on such hits as "Midnight Confessions," ''Temptation Eyes," and "Let's Live for Today." He was 67.
Medical examiner director Michael Hensley said Tuesday that Grill died Monday at a hospice facility in Lake County, Florida, a suburb of Orlando.
A woman who answered the phone at Cornerstone Hospice confirmed Grill was a patient but declined to offer further information, citing privacy concerns.
Rob Grill was one of the most underestimated and least heralded of all the great rock lead singers.  As you know, the first couple Grass Roots singles ("Mr. Jones" and "Where Were You When I Needed You" were studio concoctions.  After that, though, a real Grass Roots band was formed featuring Rob's distinctive lead vocals.  (For the group's greatest hits albums, Rob's voice was mixed in to replace the original lead vocals on "Where Were You When I Needed You" and it's that Rob Grill remix which turns up on most oldies stations today.) 
Starting with 1967's "Let's Live For Today," the Grill-led Grass Roots quickly established itself as a steady source of catchy, evocative, rockin' hit singles.   More than 20 poured through 1975 and nearly every one of them was a hit.  ""Things I Should Have Said," "Midnight Confessions," "Bella Linda," "The River Is Wide," "Lovin' Things," "I'd Wait A Million Years," "Heaven Knows," "Walkin' Through The Country," "Baby Hold On,"  "Sooner or Later," "Two Divided By Love" -- those were all GREAT, unforgettable records -- among the best and most memorable released in the late '60s and early '70s.  Thirteen Grass Roots singles went gold while two of their albums went platinum,  Radio today primarily overplays their biggest hit, "Midnight Confessions," but for my money the very best track they ever cut was 1970's "Temptation Eyes" (featuring Rob, of course).   It prepared me for meeting a girl WITH temptation eyes only one year later.  Thanks for the heads up, guys. 
Rob Grill wrote 13 of the songs the Grass Roots recorded, returned to lead the revival version of the band and in 2008 released what became his final album, "Live Gold."  Rob suffered a stroke earlier this year which caused him to fall and hit his head.  His last several weeks were spent in a coma.   
R.I.P., Rob.  I know you had a very rough time over the past few years as your health declined, but you left behind a highly impressive and unforgettable musical legacy. 
Of note: Grass Roots guitarist Creed Bratton later turned to acting, portraying a version of himself on TV's "The Office." 
Gary Theroux 

One of my favorite groups of the 60's besides the Byrds and Beatles were the Grass Roots. I'll never forget in the summer of 2003 they were playing at a show outside in Estes Park and I introduced them. My last words were ... "Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Grassroots" and then I promptly took a header off the stage to the delight of the band and the audience!
Wild Bill

Steve Marinucci did a nice remembrance piece on Rob Grill in his National Examiner column ... several people on the list sent us this link!  (kk)

I'm sure you're aware now of the passing of Rob Grill.  I just thought it might be of interest to note that, even in death, one cannot escape insult, intentional or otherwise.  On the New York Times website this morning, a photo of the Grass Roots accompanying Grill's obituary incorrectly identified Grill.  They had Grill and Warren Entner "switched" and they were running a "cut head shot" of Entner on their obituary page, identified as Grill.  I dropped a line to the writer of the obit, Margalit Fox, to let her know of the error.  I imagine it wasn't her error but I didn't know how to contact anyone else.   The whole thing might seem trivial to some but I consider it a damned shame.   Bon Voyage, Mr. Grill.
... Ed44 
And then ...
... and shame on me ... the person incorrectly identified as Rob Grill in the NY Times obit photo is Rick Coonce, NOT Warren Entner.  Mea culpa.
... Ed44
And Rick Coonce left us earlier this year, too.  We all know where to find Creed Bratton ... anybody have any idea what Warren Entner is doing these days?  (kk)

I heard on the TOC of Rob Grill's passing and of course have just now read what was posted on your website. You listed their 18 top 40 hits. The following four records by the Grassroots made our local survey here in OKC but I really didn't go check to see if they charted nationally. 
They are:
1.Mr. Jones (A ballad of a thin man) 1965
2. Only When You're Lonely 1966
3.Wake Up Wake Up 1967
4.Melody For You 1968
I just listed the "A" of the record or the side played here in OKC.
Joel Whitburn's latest edition shows "Mr. Jones" bubbling under at #121, "Only When You're Lonely" peaking at #96, "Wake Up, Wake Up" reaching #68 and "A Melody For You" bubbling under at #123.  (kk)

Rob Grill was an important singer with the Grass Roots in the 60's, but the whole band sang lead parts often.  Rob was the one that soldiered onward all these years and should be remembered for all of that time when, like me, MANY MANY of us saw him and his Grass Roots in bars or concerts across the country and enjoyed all the classic hits they had. 
Still, the 60's were the (arguably) best years for the band and here's a couple of Chicago memories.  First, late 68 with WLS' Chuck Buell playing "Midnight Confessions" as it was top 5 and then, from the early summer of 68, Dick Biondi at WCFL playing a concert ad for Howlin' Wolf AND the Grass Roots!  Just a couple of months from starting a continuous string of hits, at this point, the Roots were pretty much a two or three hit wonder.  Things would change quickly after this summer 68 concert.  Note that the promo features their latest Chicago (WCFL) chart rider, "Wake Up, Wake Up" which was pretty old even then!  Topping it off, Dick plays our local faves we cannot seem to stop talking about! 
Clark Besch

Here's one you probably won't find on YouTube.  The Grass Roots' GREAT fall of 75 semi-hit, semi-banned "Mamacita" LIVE on American Bandstand 75.  Here's Rob Grill belting out a great song that (most likely due to not being a 1972 release) failed to hit big despite its' greatness.  This is NOT a lip-sych to the record, but a  slightly pared down live (or synched to a music track?) version -- unusual for Bandstand fer sure, complete with Dick Clark intro and outro. 

And here's another Grass Roots blast from the past.  Their Hollywood Palace performance was little more than a lipsynch done in their 60's west coast outfits.  That, along with Jimmy Durante's introduction.  It's nice to hear "the schnozz" again.  Again, what most people who have seen Rob Grill and the Grass Roots don't realize is that the group was MORE than just Rob, for talent. 
Rob WAS usually listed as lead vocalist and often was, but they did a lot of trading off vocals on their songs.  On "Let's Live for Today" Rob played off of Warren Entner on their trade off vocals ("I need all your lovin'" Gimme some-a lovin'" etc.) and this occurred often over their hits. 
To their credit also, if you pull out the "Let's Live for Today" album, they will show you writing credits (often PF Sloan / Steve Barri), which will include Rob, Warren and Creed Bratton (of "The Office" fame today).  The album ALSO lists the lead singers for EACH song title!  How often do you see that?  Not only that, but the album ALSO lists the MUSICIANS which meant listing the Wrecking Crew guys!  The cool back cover photos?  Some were by Warren too!  This group had it all!!
How many groups wish their 60's greatest hits album could be called "Golden Grass'"???  Well, theirs WAS!  It lived up to the name.  So many of us loved that yellow covered album and yet, how many MORE of us have their "16 Greatest Hits" album from the 70's? 
Rob will be missed, but his Grass Roots songs will thrive forever! 
Clark Besch

The video clip that goes along with this is a great one, too.  In fact, Frannie posted it on her Facebook Page the other day when she first heard that Rob had passed on!  (kk)

Whoa!!!... back-to-back "Let's Live For Today"'s!!! Damn it, Chet, put your clothes back on!!!  (kk)

I had several people this week call, text or email saying something to the effect of: "Hey, did you hear Rob Grill of The Grass Roots" died to which I naturally replied, "That's why you've got to check Forgotten Hits EVERY single day!!!"  I also met several people at the Chicago Gold Show earlier this week who said they LOVE The Sunday Comments Page ... but had absolutely NO idea that we post all week long!!!  They thought that when I send out the "friendly reminders" on Sundays that was the ONLY posting of the week ... and, because quite often the Sunday post starts a new page (week) on the website, they've never scrolled back to see all the OTHER really cool stuff they've missed!!!  Frustrating in a way, because we spend a LOT of time pulling all of this together ... but even more so because you "Sunday Readers" are missing SO much more of what Forgotten Hits has to offer.
So just a quick reminder to ALL of you out there ... check the website EVERY day!!!  Now we may not POST every single day ... but it'll get you in the habit of coming back regularly ... and, at the very least, you'll get a chance to enjoy our new "Today's Forgotten Hit" feature!  (kk)