- Song Highlights
- Associated Acts
The band consisted of David Gates (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, viola, percussion), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Robb Royer (bass, guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, recorder, backing vocals), Mike Botts (drums; joined in the summer of 1969) and Larry Knechtel (bass, guitar, keyboards, harmonica; replaced Royer in 1971).
David Gates, the nominal leader of Bread, had already been playing live in various bands for four years by the time he moved to Los Angeles at 21. There, he immediately plugged himself into the burgeoning local scene, writing hits (“Popsicles and Icicles” by the Murmaids and “Saturday’s Child” for the Monkees), and producing as well (Glenn Yarbrough’s “Baby, The Rain Must Fall“). He also got to know the famous session men known as The Wrecking Crew and released several solo singles, none of which found much success. By 1967 he was producing a psych-pop group called the Pleasure Faire.
Royer then introduced Gates to his songwriting partner, Griffin, and the trio joined together in 1968 and signed with Elektra Records, choosing the name “Bread” in 1969. The group’s first single, “Dismal Day”, was released in June 1969 but did not chart. Their debut album, Bread, was released in September 1969 and peaked at No. 127 on the Billboard 200. Songwriting on the album was split evenly between Gates and the team of Griffin-Royer. Jim Gordon, a session musician, accompanied the band on drums for the album.
In the summer of 1969, Bread did some concerts with Gordon on drums. But when Gordon’s schedule conflicted and he proved unavailable for future outings, they quickly brought in Mike Botts as their permanent drummer. Botts appeared on their second album, On the Waters (peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard 200). This time their efforts quickly established Bread as a major act with the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Make It with You” in 1970. “Make It with You” would be Bread’s only No. 1 on the Hot 100.
For their next single, they released a re-recorded version of “It Don’t Matter To Me”, a Gates song from their first album. This single was a hit as well, reaching No. 10. Bread began touring and recording the 1971 album titled Manna (#21), which included the Top 5 hit single, “If”. As with the first album, songwriting credits were split evenly between Gates and Griffin-Royer.
Royer left the group after three albums, although he would continue to write with Griffin, and was replaced by Larry Knechtel, a leading Los Angeles session musician who had played piano on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” single in 1970. In January 1972 Bread released Baby I’m-a Want You, their most successful album, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The title song was established as a hit in late 1971 before the album was released, also hitting No. 3. Follow-up singles “Everything I Own” and “Diary” also went Top 20. The next album, Guitar Man, was released ten months later and went to No. 18. The album produced three Top 20 singles, “The Guitar Man” (#11), “Sweet Surrender” (#15), and “Aubrey” (#15), with the first two going to No. 1 on Billboard’s adult contemporary chart.
Split and reunion
By 1973, fatigue from constant recording and touring had set in despite the band’s success, and personal relationships began to show strain, especially between Gates and Griffin. All eleven of Bread’s charting singles between 1970 and 1973 had been written and sung by Gates. Elektra Records had invariably selected Gates’ songs for the A-sides of the singles, while Griffin felt that the singles should have been split between the two of them. There was also some dissatisfaction with the songs planned for a sixth album. Bread decided to disband.
Gates and Griffin returned to their solo careers with mixed results. The Best of Bread compilation album from 1973 was a huge success, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and staying on the chart for over two years. The follow-up, The Best Of Bread, Volume Two, was released in 1974 and went to No. 32.
The reunion of the group in 1976 came about after Elektra Records expressed interest in another Bread album. Gates, Griffin, Botts and Knechtel returned to the studio that year and recorded the album Lost Without Your Love, released in January 1977. The title track, again written and sung by Gates, was the band’s last Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 9 on the singles chart. This comeback record reached No. 26 on Billboard’s album chart and was Bread’s seventh consecutive album (including the two best ofs) to be R.I.A.A. certified gold. In March 1977, Elektra released a second single, “Hooked On You”. It was less successful on the pop chart (peaking at No. 60) but it reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. The four members of Bread (along with session guitarist Dean Parks) toured throughout 1977 to support their comeback album. After a short break, they commenced the tour’s second leg that summer without Griffin, whom Gates failed to invite after further rising tensions. They ended the year with no further plans to record as a group.
Following the break-up
In 1978 Gates enjoyed success as a solo artist with the hit singles “Goodbye Girl” (#15; from the movie The Goodbye Girl) and “Took the Last Train” (#30). He then toured with Botts and Knechtel as “David Gates & Bread”. The group’s 1978 touring line-up once again included Dean Parks for their June tour of the UK and Europe. But for their fall dates back in the US, Parks had left but the stage lineup had expanded to include Warren Ham (ex-Bloodrock; woodwinds, keyboards, backing vocals), Bill Ham (guitars) and David Miner (bass). This led to a legal dispute with Griffin over use of the band’s name, of which Griffin was co-owner. In the dispute, Griffin again complained that Gates’ songs were given preference as singles over his. The resulting litigation was not settled until 1984.
After leaving Bread in 1971, Royer stuck mostly to songwriting (still teaming up with Griffin on occasion). As with Griffin, his success was mostly in writing for artists in the country music field in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1994 Royer, Griffin and Knechtel re-united under the name “Toast”. Knechtel had continued to be an in-demand session player, backing up such artists as Elvis Costello. In 1994, after being out of the spotlight for thirteen years, Gates released a new solo album, Love is Always Seventeen.
In 1996, having settled their differences, Gates, Griffin, Botts and Knechtel reunited Bread for a successful “25th Anniversary” tour of the United States, South Africa, Europe and Asia. This time out the group was accompanied by Randy Flowers (guitars), Scott Chambers (bass) and a string section to help them capture the sound of the records. This tour was extended into 1997, which would be the last year the original members of Bread would ever perform together. Gates and the others then resumed their individual careers. Bread was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2005 both Griffin and Botts died from cancer at the age of 61. In August 2009, Knechtel died of a heart attack at the age of 69, leaving Gates and Royer as the only surviving original members of Bread. Royer continues to be involved in music, initially working out of his Nashfilms studio in Tennessee before relocating to the Virgin Islands during 2013, while Gates contents himself with retirement at his home in California. In 2010 Royer released a Jimmy Griffin album consisting of songs written by both himself and Griffin.
During March 2014, Helter Skelter Publishing (UK) issued the first biography of the band, a limited edition hardback titled Bread: A Sweet Surrender (originally called Manna from Heaven: The Musical Rise & Fall of Bread). It was written with the assistance of many surviving family members and musical colleagues of the band, along with exclusive interviews with founding member Robb Royer. A paperback/softcover edition is scheduled to appear at a later date.
- Soft rock
- Adult contemporary
- Folk rock
- Rock and roll
- Hard rock
- Soft Rock
- AM Pop
- Contemporary Pop/Rock
- Los Angeles, California
- Reunion 1996
- David Gates (born December 11, 1940 in Tulsa, OK): lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, percussion
- Jimmy Griffin (born James Arthur Griffin, August 10, 1943 in Cincinnati, OH; died January 11, 2005, Franklin, TN): lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Larry Knechtel (born Lawrence William Knechtel, August 4, 1940 in Bell, CA; died August 20, 2009, Yakima, WA): guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica
- Mike Botts (born Michael G. Botts, December 8, 1944 in Oakland, CA; died December 9, 2005, Burbank, CA): drums
- Robb Royer
1969 Bread Elektra
1970 On the Waters Elektra
1971 Manna Elektra
1972 Baby I’m-a Want You Elektra
1972 Guitar Man Elektra
1977 Lost Without Your Love Elektra
1973 The Best of Bread Elektra
1974 The Best of Bread, Volume 2 Elektra
1977 The Sound of Bread Elektra
1985 Anthology of Bread Elektra
1989 The Very Best Of Bread Pickwick
1996 David Gates & Bread Essentials Elektra
1996 Retrospective Elektra
2002 Make It With You And Other Hits Flashback
2006 The Definitive Collection Elektra/Rhino
2007 The WorksWarner Music Group UK
- Everything I Own 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- If 1971 Manna
- Family Doctor 1969 Bread
- Make It With You 1970 On the Waters
- Aubrey 1972 Guitar Man
- Lost Without Your Love 1977 Lost Without Your Love
- The Last Time 1969 Bread
- Diary 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- It Don’t Matter to Me 1969 Bread
- Baby I’m a Want You 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- Take Me Now
- Mother Freedom 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- Any Way You Want Me 1969 Bread
- If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words
- Down on My Knees 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- Dismal Day 1969 Bread
- Look What You’ve Done 1970 On the Waters
- She’s the Only One 1977 Lost Without Your Love
- Daughter 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- Been Too Long on the Road 1970 On the Waters
- Let Your Love Go 1971 Manna
- Belonging 1977 Lost Without Your Love
- The Chosen One 1977 Lost Without Your Love
- Too Much Love 1971 Manna
- Just Like Yesterday 1972 Baby I’m-A Want You
- London Bridge 1969 Bread
- Friends and Lovers 1969 Bread
- Truckin’ 1971 Manna
- I Use the Soap
- He’s a Good Lad 1971 Manna
- Look at Me 1969 Bread
The Best of Bread (1973)
Everything I Own
Make It with You
The Guitar Man
Lost Without Your Love
BABY I’M A WANT YOU
- Rhino Entertainment,
- Elektra Records
- The Remingtons
- The Pleasure Fair
- Toast/Radio Dixie