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Terry Knight
Birth name Richard Terrance Knapp
Born April 9, 1943 Lapeer, Michigan
Died November 1, 2004 (Age 61), Temple, Texas
Genres Rock, Pop
Occupations Singer, songwriter, Manager, Promoter, Radio Personality
Years active 1963-1973
Labels Capitol Records
Associated acts Terry Knight and the Pack

Terry Knight (April 9, 1943 - November 1, 2004), born Richard Terrance Knapp, was an American rock and roll music producer, promoter, singer, songwriter and radio personality, who enjoyed some success in radio, modest success as a singer, but phenomenal success as the original manager-producer for Grand Funk Railroad.

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Early Life

Knight was born on April 9, 1943 in Lapeer, Michigan

Early Career

Knight's career began as a Detroit DJ in 1963 when he replaced Dave Shafer as "Jack the Bellboy" on WJBK, coming to Detroit from Flint, Michigan's legendary Top 40 rocker WTAC. The following year, he moved across the river to CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. Arguably the first American DJ to air the Rolling Stones, he hosted a legendary late night show from high-powered CKLW, bringing the British Invasion to the Northern states. He was awarded the honorary title of "The Sixth Stone" for his early support of the Stones. By the end of 1964, however, Knight had left CKLW and the radio business, intending to pursue his own career in music.

Around 1965, Knight fashioned his own songwriting and performing career in Flint, Michigan, by becoming the front man for Terry Knight and the Pack. With this band, Knight recorded a handful of regional hits for local Lucky Eleven Records, part of the Cameo-Parkway Records group, including his self-penned generation gap anthem "A Change On The Way," as well as scoring two national hits, a tasteful cover of the Yardbirds' "(Mister, You're A) Better Man Than I" and his ultra-lounge reading of Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" (which came close to making the national top 40, peaking at #46). The band also left behind two long-playing garage classics before breaking up in 1967. (Brownsville Station honored Knight and the Pack with a cover of the Knight-penned "Love, Love, Love, Love, Love" on their '73 album Yeah!)

? And The Mysterians and Grand Funk Railroad

In 1967, Knight moved to New York, and attempted a solo career as a singer and staff producer with the terminal Cameo-Parkway label, with limited success. He produced and wrote a handful of tracks by other artists, including garage legends Question Mark & the Mysterians and the easy-listening International Pop Orchestra. He also scored music for the 20th Century Fox noir classic The Incident. In '69, Knight secured a contract with Capitol Records where he released a 45, "Saint Paul," which contributed to the "Paul is dead" hoax. Although his version failed to make Billboard's Hot 100, the song provided New Zealand singer Shane the best-selling single of the 1960s in his native land.

From there, Capitol retained Knight, who parlayed the connection into a re-connection with two former Pack members---guitarist/singer Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer---who'd formed what would become Grand Funk Railroad with former Mysterians bassist Mel Schacher. Becoming their manager-producer, Knight helped steer the trio to international fame, beginning with his getting them onto the bill---for free---at the 1969 Atlanta Pop Festival, a performance that convinced Capitol to sign the trio. For the next two years, Grand Funk Railroad became the most popular rock attraction in the United States despite mixed critical reviews that Knight cannily exploited as part of their appeal; he also discovered and produced the Fort Worth, Texas group Bloodrock, who hit the Top 40 in early 1971 with the unlikely death anthem "D.O.A." [Dead On Arrival].

Between Grand Funk and Bloodrock, Knight racked up an unprecedented eight gold albums while simultaneously waging a war of words with Rolling Stone over the magazine's frequent pannings of the two acts. But by 1972, both Grand Funk and Bloodrock severed their professional relations with Knight. In Grand Funk's case, it involved court actions that kept the band tied up for almost two full years; they'd demanded full royalty accounting and accused Knight of double-dipping as manager-producer while the trio hadn't been getting all the monies they'd earned. For his part, Knight would claim the band had had only three months left on their contract with him when they first took him to court and could have been free with half the legal aggravation; the trio ultimately won their separation from Knight but at heavy cost, before adding keyboardsman Craig Frost and continuing a successful recording and touring career through 1976.

Life After Grand Funk

Knight was also dropped from Capitol soon after the Grand Funk court actions were resolved and began his own label, Brown Bag Records, releasing albums and singles by Mom's Apple Pie,[1] John Hambrick, Wild Cherry and Faith. None of them found commercial success and, in late 1973, Knight retired permanently from show business. He associated with super model Twiggy and raced cars with film star Paul Newman in the mid-70s before becoming addicted to Cocaine; which consumed him. By the 1980s' he had straightened himself out, settling in Yuma AZ with his wife and daughter Danielle. He melded into the community working in advertising sales for a weekly newspaper.

Death

On November 1, 2004 Terry Knight was murdered at the age of 61. Knight was stabbed multiple times in a fight with his daughter's boyfriend---against whom Knight was trying to protect her---in their shared apartment in Temple, Texas. On November 26, 2005, his killer, Donald A. Fair, was sentenced to life in prison. Knight was cremated and buried in a family plot in Lapeer, Michigan. Terry is survived by his daughter Danielle.

References

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