Grand Funk Railroad Arrive Right ‘On Time’

Released on August 25, 1969 as their debut album, ‘On Time’ by Grand Funk Railroad lived up to its title and started the band’s US chart journey.

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Grand Funk Railroad On Time
Cover: Courtesy of Universal Music

They’re an American band, and this was their first album. Grand Funk Railroad played their first gig in March 1969 and On Time came out five months later on August 25. The LP was recorded in the immediate aftermath of the first Atlanta Pop Festival, which had taken place on the 4th of July weekend. The band had gone over a storm with the 50,000 audience, prompting Capitol Records to sign them.

Listen to On Time right now.

Early origins

GFR had their origins in a group called Terry Knight and the Pack that included Mark Farner and Don Brewer, who were joined by bass player Mel Schacher. (Schacher had previously been in ? & the Mysterians, of “96 Tears” fame.) Farner sang, played guitar and harmonica, and was very much the on-stage leader of the band, while Brewer was the drummer and second vocalist. In the mold created by Cream, their powerhouse blues rock was undeniable in the live setting.

Indeed, it was GFR’s relentless gigging that drove the sales of the album. Wherever the band played, their album sold. According to one reviewer, “Grand Funk played at the Fillmore East when their first album had only been out for three weeks. But, regardless of this, the audience was screaming out their favorite songs for the group to play.”

Creating a template

One of those songs was “Heartbreaker,” the band’s third single, which was released in early 1970 and also made the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100. With Farner’s bluesy guitar and his and Brewer’s harmony vocals, it set a template for so many rock and metal bands that would break through as the 1970s progressed.

Heartbreaker (Remastered 2002)

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Other standout tracks include “Into The Sun,” which starts off in a mellow mood and transforms itself into hard-rock heaven over six and half minutes. Along with “Are You Ready,” it remained a staple part of Grand Funk’s live set for many years. (You can hear why on the band’s Live album from a year later.)

Chart-wise, their debut single, the bluesy “Time Machine,” came out at the same time as the album. A month later, the single made the Billboard charts, making a slow steady climb up to No.48. A few weeks later, on October 11, On Time made the Billboard album chart, and it too made steady progress, eventually peaking at No. 27 in late November.

On Time is not without its flaws, but like so many debut albums, it was pointing the way forward. GFR would become one of the biggest bands in America over the first half of the 1970s, and this is where it all started.

Buy On Time here.



  1. Mark`

    August 26, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Then Brewer kicked out Mark and tuned it into a GFRR cover band.

    • Laura

      July 12, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Get your facts straight. Brewer did not kick out Mark. Mark left on his own. He had a choice, he chose to do his own thing.

      • Rythumjet

        July 13, 2015 at 3:00 am

        Mark was voted out as a 1/3 owner of a Corporation that Don Brewer started. Mel was also 1/3. Both Don and Mel voted together to stop Mark from expressing his Christian faith. Mark refused and they voted him out. Simple as that. I guess you could say Mark did his own thing but that would be your spin on it. They silenced him.

  2. #1 funk fan

    October 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Love gfr!!!! Cant get enough even now 45 yrs later. Mark farner your the greatest

  3. Giancarlo Giannotti

    November 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Una banda de la PM!!!!
    ESTàn dentro de mi top ten de todos los tiempos…
    A terrific group!!!!
    They are included in my list of the all time top ten rock bands…

  4. Bigbird

    November 9, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    my favorite of all time!! Why aren’t they in R&R Hall of fame?!

  5. tugboater

    December 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Mark, Don and Mel is GFR and my favorite band of all time. But if it’s not Mark, Don and Mel together then it’s not GFR and should not be advertised as such.

    • John

      January 11, 2019 at 10:16 pm

      Correct I agree I seen them at the big E and was expecting mark, don, Mel but I got someone else.

  6. kieran burke

    September 1, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    candy apple red hotter than july turning every head she blew my mind.What grand funk song are these lyrics from?

  7. Jed

    October 11, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I truly wish that Mark, Don & Mel could come to terms and do a final tour together as the Original band. I’ve seen Grand Funk in both the original and current lineups. While the current lineup does a good job and sounds good, it’s just not the same without Mark!

  8. James Brush

    September 5, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    I attended the Grand Funk Railroad concert in 1974 in Shahboynginda Wisconsin.. When I was arrested. for public intoxication, I called my mother…to say please mother help me.

  9. Antonio Flores Villalobos

    August 26, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    It was G F R that got me into rock. I was in my border town of Mexicali, across from Calexico, CA. My HS buddies and I kept on playing that GF Live Album, on 8 tracks, specially Inside Looking Out and Heartbreaker. We did not know what they were singing about, but the music was candy to our ears … Gracias GFR … Saw you in NYC while doing the Bosnia benefit and in Albany, without Mark.

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