Bread was formed in 1969, when a leading Los Angeles session musician, David Gates, was asked, by now legendary music figure Russ Regan, to produce a project featuring Rob Royer as vocalist for the group "Pleasure Faire". Royer had co-written The Carpenter's "For All We Know" with Jim Griffin, winning a 1970 Oscar for 'Song of the Year'. It was in the context of this project that Gates, Griffin and Royer, the nucleus of Bread, initially met, developed friendships and decided to pool their talents.
The first fruit of that nucleus, augmented by drummer, Jim Gordon, was the album, "Bread" released in January, 1969. After a minor hit called "Dismal Day, a tune called "Make It With You" went all the way to the top of the Billboard singles chart. The group followed up with another ballad, the Top 10 hit, "It Don't Matter To Me". It became obvious that this 'soft rock' approach was going to be the sound that Bread would ultimately become identified with and certainly had a deep connection with as players.
1970 saw Jim Gordon replaced by Los Angeles based studio drummer Mike Botts in time for the album "Manna" which featured a second gold single, "If", which climbed to #4.
Yet another turning point in the band's line up took place in 1972, as Rob Royer left the group to pursue other avenues in the music business. At this crossroads, Larry Knechtel, a literally famous Los Angeles session keyboardist, became the permanent replacement for Royer. "Baby I'm a Want You", from the album of the same name, became another Top 10 hit, reaching #3. Later the same year, Bread released the album, "Guitar Man" and scored three more hits with the title track, "Diary" and "Everything I Own".
As is normal for musicians as talented as these, directions begin to veer, and there evolves a contrast such that is apparently impossible to justify keeping the group together. Upon approaching their sixth album in 1973, creative tensions between David Gates, the group's principal songwriter, and James Griffin, cause the group to call it quits. There was no point in tainting the great body of work up to that point, with an obviously strained effort that would possibly result in mediocrity.
Setting Bread aside, the band members took different directions and David Gates completed a couple of solo efforts, "First Album", in 1973, and "Never Let Her Go", in 1975. The following year, Gates and Griffin were able to put differences aside and Bread re-formed, releasing "Lost Without Your Love" in 1977. Though the single reached the Top 10, Bread once again dissolved over creative issues and Gates and Griffin returned to their solo careers.
In 1978, Gates wrote the title song from the movie adaptation of Neil Simon's play, "The Goodbye Girl", yet another unforgettable melody with successful chart results. But touring had taken its toll on David and he soon headed for the country side of life with family in tow to his northern California ranch.
Gates returned to recording with 1994's "Love Is Always Seventeen", but by that time, Bread's brand of soft rock had faded in popularity with record buyers. Meanwhile, Griffin relocated to Nashville, where he worked as a songwriter and later joined the Country groups the Remingtons and Dreamer. Drummer Mike Botts also remained active in music, serving as a studio and touring musician for Linda Ronstadt and Dan Fogelberg. Larry Knechtel continued to perform both live and in the studio with a long list of music stars, including Neil Diamond, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams Jr., Elvis Costello and The Dixie Chicks. The original line-up re-grouped in 1997 for a brief tour.
Sadly, James Griffin died of complications from cancer on January 11, 2005 at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. Mike Botts passed away in Burbank, California on December 9, 2005, one day after his 61st birthday, having suffered from colon cancer. Larry Knechtel died of a heart attack at the age of 69 on December 24th, 2009.
For more, be sure to read Gary James' interview with David Gates