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Rare Earth Biography

Gil Bridges (saxophone) and drummer Pete Rivera/Hoorelbeke (drums) formed their first R&B band, the Sunliners, in Detroit in 1961. John Parrish (bass) joined in 1962; Rod Richards (guitar) and Kenny James (keyboards) followed in 1966. Other members included Ralph Terrana (keyboards), Russ Terrana (guitar) and Fred Saxon (saxophone). After years of playing in local clubs and releasing unspectacular records on MGM Records, Hercules and Golden World, they were signed to Verve Records and released Dreams And Answers. They signed to Motown Records in 1969, where they had the honour of having a newly formed progressive rock label named after them (following their hopeful suggestion to Motown executives). Rare Earth Records enjoyed an immediate success with a rock-flavoured version of the Temptations’ hit ‘Get Ready’, which reached the US Top 10. The single was edited down from a 20-minute recording that occupied one side of their debut Motown album; it showcased the band’s instrumental prowess, but also typified their tendency towards artistic excess. A cover version of another Temptations’ classic, ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’, brought them more success in 1970, as did original material such as ‘Born To Wander’ and ‘I Just Want To Celebrate’. The band had already suffered the first in a bewildering series of personnel changes that dogged their progress over the next decade, as Richards and James were replaced by Ray Monette and Mark Olson, respectively, and Ed Guzman (10 March 1944, d. 29 July 1993) was added on percussion.

This line-up had several minor US hits in the early 70s, until internal upheavals in 1973 led to a complete revamp of the band’s style. The Temptations’ mentor, Norman Whitfield, produced the highly regarded Ma that year. By the release of Back To Earth in 1975, he in turn had been supplanted by Jerry La Croix. Subsequent releases proved commercially unsuccessful, though the band continued to record and tour into the 80s. Former members Rivera/Hoorelbeke and Michael Urso later combined with Motown writer/producer Tom Baird as Hub for two albums, Hub and Cheeta, on Capitol Records. At the turn of the decade the line-up comprised Bridges, Monette, Guzman, Wayne Baraks, Rick Warner, Dean Boucher and Randy Burghdoff. They joined Ian Levine’s Motor City label in 1990 and issued ‘Playing To Win’ and ‘Love Is Here And Now You’ve Gone’. The band continues to be hugely successful in Germany. During the mid-90s Hoorelbeke/Rivera was playing with the Classic Rock All Stars, a band that comprised Spencer Davis, Mike Pinera (ex-Blues Image and Iron Butterfly) and Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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