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The Locomotion

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When Raspberries played Carnegie Hall in September 1973, there were quite a few famous musicians in the audience including Todd Rundgren. Todd was producing a new album for Grand Funk Railroad. As part of Raspberries' live show at the time, they did a medley of "oldies," including "The Locomotion" and "Be My Baby."

Grand Funk drummer and vocalist Don Brewer said: "The idea of 'Locomotion' came when we were working on the Shinin' On album in the studio with Todd (Rundgren). We had basically finished the album—'Shinin On' was going to be the first single, and we were thinking about what we were going to do for another song. Mark (Farner) came in one day and off the top of his head was singing, 'Everybody's doing a brand new dance now,' just for fun, and we all went, 'Yeah, Grand Funk doing "the Locomotion."' It was a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, and we said, 'Let's try it, let's do it,' so we sent off to New York, got the lyrics, and Todd had the idea of doing the song kind of like The Beach Boys' 'Barbara Ann' where it sounded like a big party was going on, except Todd could really crank up everything with the hand claps and all of that stuff. It just had this huge sound to it—it sounded like a big party."

Ri-i-i-i-ight. Missing is the part that Todd just heard Eric and the band do a killer cover of the song at Carnegie Hall.

Anyway, here's a live version of Raspberries playing tune (awash in mellotrons) just two months after their famous Carnegie Hall gig:


And Mark Farner and Co. from Grand Funk's Shinin' On:

In 2006, Steve-O asked Eric about it on this website Message Board: "Eric, I have heard the Raspberries version of 'Locomotion'/'Be My Baby' countless times. I also have heard the almost legendary tale how Todd Rundgen was at the Carnegie Hall concert, heard the Berries version and sold Grand Funk on covering the song and the rest is music history. My question is did the Raspberries ever considering covering the tune as a possible single or were you all more concentrated on your own material?"

Eric's response was: "The 'Berries recorded four albums in two years so, unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of extra material sitting around. The budgets of those albums were very small (I think the first album was $25,000) so we didn't have a lot of extra time to try things out and experiment. We pretty much went in, recorded the songs for each album, mixed and went home to write the next one. I don't believe there were any songs left over and we never did a cover tune."

The Grand Funk version climbed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Would it have been a chart-topper for the 'Berries had Jimmy Ienner been as inspired as Todd to have his band record a version?

We'll never know.


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Here is the first 12 seconds of Grand Funk "The Loco - Motion" (From "Capitol Collectors Series" reissued in 1991) which has the "TUNE UP"!!!  Also on that CD was the opening of "I'm Your Captain"/"Closer To Home" which also has the "TUNE UP" at the beginning of the song & has a guitar mistake & producer Terry Knight said "This Is A Take". 


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