‘Get Ready’ for Rare Earth concert in MonroeWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Margaret Norton saw Rare Earth play at a Detroit club in the late 1960s, she told then-boyfriend Berry Gordy about the band.
“Barney Ales at Motown took us under his wing and signed us to the company, but we had friends that signed with Motown before us that were white and none of them went anywhere; they were shelved,” said saxophonist and co-founding group member Gil Bridges. “It was because Motown was only promoting R&B; they didn’t really have any white markets as far as promotion goes.
“So, they recorded music that was very white and then they just couldn’t promote it. So, we thought we might have the same problem although we sounded — people thought we were black — but we got our roots from playing Motown music in clubs for five years.”
Rare Earth signed with Motown in 1969, but Bridges said it took a little more convincing.
“[Motown] ordered a whole new white division, and when they agreed to call it Rare Earth Records, that did it; I was like, ‘Wow. That’s really something,” Bridges said during a phone call from his West Bloomfield, Mich., home. “We’re going to get all the promotion for this new division because it’s our name and it’s also going to show Motown’s confidence in us.”
That belief in the band paid off.
“We were more of a jam band. A lot of our songs were long because everybody could really play,” Bridges said. “And that’s why ‘Get Ready’ was 21 minutes long.
“At first, [Motown was] reluctant to put — they were a three-minute song company, they promoted singles, basically — and album-oriented radio came in, and they started playing longer songs. Then, Iron Butterfly got ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ played, so we thought why can’t we do the same thing? And it worked.”
Rare Earth scored a string of hits, including “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” “I Just Want to Celebrate” and “We’re Gonna Have a Good Time.”
The group’s latest disc, “A Brand New World,” was released in 2008.
“Over the past 40 years, three of the members have died, a couple retired and then came out of retirement, so this isn’t the exact same band that Rare Earth was back in 1969 through ’75, but we kept the same type of music and tried to maintain the sound that Rare Earth had, and it’s all new material,” Bridges said. “This CD is all written by us, the band.”
Bridges, guitarist Ray Monette, bass player Randy Burghdoff, pianist Mike Bruner and drummer Floyd Stokes Jr. will bring Rare Earth to Monroe County Community College for a 7:30 p.m. show Nov. 14 in the La-Z-Boy Center Meyer Theater. Tickets are $27 and $17.